My YouTube Videos

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sibling Rivalry and Scrub Jays

I witnessed an amazing display of sibling rivalry and peanut caching antics. Throughout last winter two siblings came each day to visit Blue and get free peanuts. One a bit more nervous than the other. He would come within a few feet of me while the other would land on me, and even enter the house at times. 

When Spring came they stopped coming. Busy building their nests I could still see them grabbing branches and zipping about. Each had found a suitable mate. Each pair built a nest on opposite sides of the street high in the trees. 

They would still acknowledged my existence with a friendly buzz over pat on the head and a cackle now and then. With their nests now complete. They came back for peanuts today in a flurry. I came home to scrub jays buzzing over my head as I entered the house and screaming at me through the windows. So I went to my bag and tossed a few peanuts out in the open. 

The siblings were extremely competitive as all corvids. Scrub-jays are non-migratory and mated pairs defend their territory year-round. So now we have siblings defending the same general territory. That spells one thing, fun. 

One out of a pair stands watch so they can see and guard their nest while the other grabs and hides nuts and also tries to force their sibling away. There was plenty for all but that did not seem to matter. Interesting was the watcher would never leave the post where they could not see their nest. Even if  a peanut was right below them. They would however signal their mate whenever a peanut came into their field of vision using a specific call. Both pairs used the same exact vocalizations each time. When a peanut was taken and successfully hidden by their mate, sometimes re-hidden out of the prying eyes of the other Scrub Jay, each watcher would then give a specific trill telling the other that they had successfully hidden the peanut safely and could return for more. 

Hidden both high and low, in flowers buds, palm trees and buried on the ground,  this pattern of communication went on and on for twenty minutes as they cached nuts. They would aggressively dive, fly and even crash into each other to push the other out of the way. Brother sister, it did not matter. It was quite the show and a tad funny as they learn these things from their parents. 

 Being highly intelligent and social , young western scrub-jays learn most of their behavior from their parents. They will remain with them until they are about three or four months old before leaving to find mates. Corvids, which include crows, have a larger brain to body size than any other family of birds, comparable to that of dolphins and even chimpanzees. The region of the brain responsible for intellect is larger in corvids than in any other group of birds. Add to that, corvids have a higher density of brain cells than any other bird. Jays are highly active, enjoy play and exhibit amusing food caching antics. Like all corvids they are fun to watch. I look forward to getting some video. I have been so busy and this all happened very quickly. But it is obvious they will be back. In fact one is still persistently at my door now. Please feel free to submit your own pictures, videos or stories. 

Email me at

Tim & Blue

No comments: