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Blue Jay, and Crow Social Networking

narrow_blue jay_4.JPG Hi all,

I thought we might start this one off with a nice spring photo of a blue jay... This is from way back on May 5th, 2007, and was shot using the Novabird camera. It's fun to go back and look at old images on windy, rainy winter nights like tonight. (Take that, snow!) For some reason, I've never been a fan of the jays... They're really quite beautiful... Just ain't my cup of tea I guess. (Funny how folks take to some birds and not others... I like red-wing blackbirds and crows, but blue jays and robins simply don't gun my motor. To each his own I guess.)

Stop the presses! We just put out some crackers for the crows, and noticed a most unusual behavior... The crows seem to be using a sentry system to streamline and/or safeguard their feeding habits from the ever-increasing threat of seagulls. What follows is a preliminary observation, and perhaps just happenstance, but it certainly bears noting... Here's their routine as best I can tell...

  1. They post a lookout by the feeders and the rest fly off, yet remain in "cawing distance". (Unless they use some sort of relay system, which is truly frightening.)
  2. When food (like the crackers) becomes available, the sentry calls the others, but holds his position.
  3. The "gatherer" crows respond and collect all they can, then fly off with the sentry trailing with nothing, even if that means leaving food behind. Soooo...... What does the sentry get? To me it suggests that in some way, shape, or form, they share as a social unit. Remember that piece we wrote about crow brains, the palliums, and social behavior?

See you by the feeders,


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