Posted by: Ross Gardner | January 18, 2014

A Jay and its Acorn

I saw something the other day that I had never seen in our garden before.  It was a Jay burying acorns, something that would be rather more expected in the autumn that in mid-winter, but perhaps the sign of a good year for the oak.  Odd as it may seem, this something I have rarely stood and watched anywhere else.  Some naturalist I am!  In some defence of my being so remiss, the Jay is a wary creature and one that can be tricky to observe closely, considering how common it is and how often one sees them.  It also often remarked upon that these birds play a key role in the spread of oak woods and distribution of their acorns.  Several thousand acorns will be moved and buried by a single bird in a single year, as hard weather food caches.

I watched with something of a renewed fascination for this beautiful bird, or the few moments it spent on the edge of the lawn, where moss has replaced the grass in the shade of a shrub.  Ever-vigilant, for other Jays I expect, or even squirrels, that would think little of taking advantage of such a free meal, it briefly scrutinised the ground at its feet before seemingly accepting it as a suitable  place to hide its precious morsel.  Without dropping its acorn (a Jay can hold nine at a time in its crop) it tore away a sufficient quantity of moss and pushed the nut into the ground.  I then watched it scatter a few birch leaves around the scene of its subterfuge so as to cover its tracks.  It hopped away as if nothing had happened and then was gone, presumably to carry out the same routine in a neighbour’s garden.

Jay (Garrulus glandarius) burying acorns - not a brilliant, hastily snapped picture, but a record nevertheless.  Ross Gardner 2014

Jay (Garrulus glandarius) burying acorns – not a brilliant, hastily snapped picture, but a record nevertheless. Ross Gardner 2014

 

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