[Mystery bird] Western Scrub-jay, also known as the California Jay, Aphelocoma californica, photographed at Bodega Bay, California. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 23 December 2007 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope with TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/750s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.
Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.
This mystery bird species performs a remarkable behavior that has intrigued scientists and even has resulted in a paper in one of the world’s top research journals, Science. Can you tell me more about this behavior?
Western scrub-jays, Aphelocoma californica, cache food for future consumption, they steal others Jays’ caches, and they engage in deceptive tactics to minimize the chance their own caches will be stolen. The Science study I am referencing shows that scrub-jays remember which individual bird watched which caching event, and the cache-r then alters his or her re-caching behavior accordingly. Further, the researchers were unable to find any evidence that the cache-ing bird’s cache protection tactics are cued by the individual observer’s behavior. This suggests that the Jays have empathy for others. [PDF]