New Science Photo of the Day: 8

scrub jay
Our local Woodhouse's Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma woodhouseii) have developed quite a taste for peanuts. If you watch the bird after it grabs a peanut, it will fly to a bush, hop to the ground, scratch the dirt, and then fly to another bush and repeat the process. After doing that several times, it returns for another peanut. Why does it do this?

Question accordion: 

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Scrub Jays are well known for stealing food from other birds, including other Scrub Jays. If there is only one Jay present, it will fly directly to a spot, and hide the peanut. They have excellent memories, and can remember hundreds of locations for hidden food.

If there are other Jays in the area, the bird will try to trick them, pretending to hide the peanut in several different locations. Even after it hides the peanut, it will pretend to hide it in one or more locations before returning for another peanut.