Animal Note: Scrub Jay Thieves
Air Date: Week of November 30, 2001
Living on Earth's Maggie Villiger reports that in the thieving world of scrub jays, it takes one to know one.
CURWOOD: Just ahead, sex and science, on magazine covers and in coral reefs. First, this page from the Animal Notebook, with Maggie Villiger.
VILLIGER: Thieves are said to be among the most paranoid people around. After all, they suspect others of just the sorts of nefarious deeds they themselves carry out. Now, new research on scrub jays shows that thieving birds are also more distrustful than their law-abiding neighbors. Like most animals, scrub jays must compete for limited resources such as food, and one way to deal with the competition is to quickly collect what's available and stash it away for a rainy day. But there's the risk a neighbor might raid your larder before you return to claim its contents. So most birds move their food stash from one location to another, to avoid it being stolen. Scientists designed an experiment to figure out why. They positioned the jays so other jays could watch while they hid their loot. When they took the watcher birds away, the hiders would re-stash their food in new places. It turns out that the birds most intent on re-hiding their caches were the ones that had themselves pilfered in the past. Robber birds seemed to assume others shared their own criminal tendencies. In the thieving world of jay birds, it takes one to know one. That's this week's Animal Note. I'm Maggie Villiger.
CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Newsletter [Click here]
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
NewsletterLiving on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Creating positive outcomes for future generations.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth