Friday, October 17, 2008

More on the marvelous Blue Jay

Central Park Blue Jay - 10/14/08
photo by Murray Head

California Scrub Jay

Betty Jo, a regular correspondent of this website, sent a note in response to John Blakeman's essay on 10/14/08 about oak dispersal by Blue Jays:

Hi Marie,

Out here in California, the Western Scrub Jay definitely plants oaks. I have seen them do it in my yard and they purposely put it in the ground, pounding away with their powerful beaks. The jays in my yard place leaves, clods, and debris over the acorn and I've seen them looking to the left and right as they pound, as if they are marking the spot in their brain.

I do not know anything about the facts of California Oaks dispersion, but in my yard, I give many different kinds of acorns to the jays and I have had trees grow-- a coastal live oak, a valley oak, and another which is from an unidentified non-local oak planted a few streets away--which the jays brought here on their own. The little Botanic Garden where I volunteer has hundreds of tiny coast live oaks planted by the scrub jays. The following is a comment from the Cornell web site: I sure did not know that!

"Western Scrub-Jays in areas where acorns are abundant have deep, stout, slightly hooked bills. Those in areas with lots of pinyon pine have long, shallow, pointed bills. The shape of the bill helps the jays open their preferred foods: a stout bill is good for hammering open acorns and the hook helps rip off the shell; a thinner, more pointed bill can get in between pine cone scales to get at the pine seeds. "

Animals never cease to delight and amaze!

Betty Jo