Western Scrub Jays are Intelligent; Yeh, OK Whatever.

We have been granted a reprieve the wind has died to 16 mph, drastically reduced this afternoon. It remains too windy for BBQ, Mrs. Lebec and I are cautious about grilling with the high winds. It’s nice enough to be outside, that’s where I was this morning. I have been pondering lately the intelligence of birds; after watching them for years it’s obvious something is going on with them. That something is a bit more than instinct or mindless wandering around taking advantage of whatever falls in front of them. I’ve been reading about the Western Scrub Jay among others.

They belong to the Corvid family a cousin of the Crow, sharing a number of characteristics with them. The most noteworthy is intelligence, Scrub Jays are smart birds. Most humans are accustomed to the belief birds are driven by instinct alone. However there is one trait they exhibit that shows a level of fairly high intelligence. Storing food for future use, they pick it, fly off with it and store in some fashion either by stuffing it in a cavity or burying it.

They know which foods decay fastest, and which are slowest. Organic materials, fruits and vegetables spoil faster than nuts and grain. They are able to remember where each stash has been hidden as well as what is in it. They categorize where the food that will decay first is located and consume that first saving the nuts and grains for later during the winter. All of this is committed to memory and retained for six months; but they have another trait that is even more impressive.

After burying their stash they back off perching in a concealed location to watch where it had been buried. He is on the lookout for stash bandits, many birds partake in stealing other birds food. In the event an intruder goes to the hiding place and digs up the deposit the Scrub Jay will attack it. I watched a video of this taking place on a the Nor-Cal bird Facebook page. The contributor video’d a Dove raiding the storage site, immediately the Scrub Jay was on it. Chasing the Dove caused the food to drop to the ground of which the Jay immediately picked it up and re-hid it.

I watch them a lot they are interesting animals however it seems when they stash fruits they would realize it also sprouts into a plant. I curse them for stealing my Cherries while watching them fly off to stuff them in the gap between the trim and siding of my neighbors house. They are repeating that habit up to today and have for many years. Later in June I will see a new Tree taking life 25 feet off the ground growing horizontally. Needless to say there is no water during the summer in California; the Cherry Trees are doomed from the start. My opinion is that it may show intelligence to remember where all of this stuff is and what order to eat it, however isn’t learning a part of intelligence? I believe it is, is it possible for them to be classified as “intelligent” birds if they never learn a seed will sprout into a plant? Effectively that is making their efforts nearly meaningless.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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