April 23, 2016 - Mexican Jay or Gray-breasted Jay (Aphelocoma wollweberi)

Requested by: @gepwin

These jays are widespread in Mexico and also found in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, in the United States. Their diet includes insects, small lizards, snakes, eggs, and nuts. During the winter, they mostly live off of acorns and pine nuts which they have buried in the ground earlier in the year. Living in groups of up to 25 birds, their territories usually contain several nests. While only paired birds build the nests, other group members feed the chicks and mob predators. Unpaired males also seem to father some of the chicks. Northern Flickers often follow these groups in the winter, paying close attention to their alarm calls.

Birds ‘weigh’ peanuts and choose heavier ones

Can animals evaluate the food hidden inside nuts? This is especially important for some animals who cache the food items for later use without opening and checking each item. We can detect which one is heavier by moving the items up and down several times and focusing on the “feeling of heaviness” we perceive. Humans can also detect the quality of a water melon by knocking on it.

A new study published in Journal of Ornithology suggests that some birds can also use similar tricks in choosing the peanuts from the feeder. Ther study was carried out in Arizona by an international research team from Poland and Korea and revealed that the Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma wollweberi) may be able to “weigh” peanuts and maybe even “listen to” peanuts while handling them in their beaks. Drs. Sang-im Lee, Piotr Jablonski, Maciej and Elzbieta Fuszara, the leading researchers in this study, together with their students and helpers, spent many hours delicately opening shells of hundreds of peanuts, changing the contents and then presenting them

Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma wollweberi) handling peanut pods appear to evaluate the pod content by 'weighing’ the pods and by 'listening to’ them. Credit: M. Fuszara

Western Scrub Jay ~ Buschhäher ~ Aphelocoma californica

What a skinny-looking bird! I witnessed this feathered friend catch insects though, maybe it was just a very hot day. Apologies for the quality of this pic due to mediocre equipment. This photo is from 2012. I just stumbled across it and I was like: Yay! I missed the Florida Scrub Jay last November but I DO have an old shot of the Western Scrub Jay at least, yippieh! :-)

California, USA

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