26 February 2020 Rockport, Maine, USA 

Scrub-Jays

Friday, February 7th, 2020
Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 07 February 2020.
Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay.

It’s been fun getting to know scrub-jays. The “blue jay” of the West, a familiar backyard species, famous among feeders for their love of peanuts (apparently, since I see them with peanuts in their beaks all the time), and expert cache-keepers.

Today (not for the first time) I watched a scrub-jay take great care to hide a peanut shell in a little flower garden at the edge of my front porch. It was a big peanut shell—a three-nutter—and the bird hammered it into the ground like a nail. Then it placed bark and other debris over the spot.

Once I saw a jay plant a nut in nearly the same spot (very possibly the same bird), then return to dig it up a few minutes later. I’ve also seen jays hide peanuts in thick ivy and in the spaces between deck boards.

Other corvids (smart birds all) exhibit this behavior. And my understanding is their memories are amazingly long and specific.

Not that I’m an expert in brain science. I just like watching scrub-jays.

(It was a drizzly, rainy day—possibly the first rainy day I’ve experience since I moved to Utah. Lots of birds up the mountain. Also elk and mule deer. Plus, a deer crossed the front yard this afternoon not twelve feet from where I was sitting (on the other side of a window.) Fun Friday.)

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 10:45 a.m., I hiked a few hundred feet up the mountain.

1. House Finch*
2. Pine Siskin
3. Black-billed Magpie*
4. Black-capped Chickadee**
5. Dark-eyed Junco*
6. Downy Woodpecker
7. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay*
8. Northern Flicker
9. Song Sparrow** (v)

Elsewhere

10. American Robin
11. Eurasian Collared Dove
12. European Starling (v)

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere

**Voice only elsewhere

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Bird Report is an intermittent record of what's outside my window in Rockport, Maine, USA (44°08'N latitude, 69°06'W longitude), and vicinity. —Brian Willson



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