We have been enjoying frequent visits to our garden lately from two Jays, often harrying each other away from their favourite perches and this one was collecting peanuts from next door’s feeder and coming into our Rowan, holding a peanut in its claws and pecking away at it. This is a good time of year to see these birds, as they finish off the acorn crop and come looking for nuts, and more visible as the leaf cover disappears. A member of the Crow family, but not as gregarious, their Latin name describes them well: Garrulus ( it has a piercing and unnerving shriek of a call) Glandarius, after the Latin for Oak, this bird, as it caches hundreds of acorns in a good year, revealing a great memory in reminding them through winter, it luckily for us always missing some, which helps spread our wonderful Oak trees as they germinate. Conditions: A weekend of dull, still weather with intermittent rain. Temperature: Max 7 Min 3c.
Jays, like Robins and some other birds, often cock their heads so they are looking with one eye- monocular vision– in order to better locate their food as they feed. They also practice forward planning, rare among birds, by collecting surplus food and caching it. Coal Tits do this too. Pre 1998, Jays, normally shy birds, rarely came into small gardens to feed but they now do so with increasing regularity- as this one shows, a few feet from our window. Their Latin name describes aspects of their behaviour- Garrulus (noisy, chatty) Glandarius (related to their favoured food of acorns) . It is thought the reduction of acorns in the wild is part of the reason they eat more from garden feeders now. Conditions: sunny and calm. Temperature: Max 20 Min 11 C
As colder times rapidly reduce the availability of insects and invertebrates for food, many birds turn to seeds, nuts and berries to stay alive. Many plants have developed a strong interdependence with birds. Juniper seeds, an endangered wild plant in the UK, actually germinate better after passing through a bird’s gut. Jays gather and hide as many as 5,000 acorns a year per bird, to retrieve later when food s scarce. They can carry 9 in their crop in one sortie! The fact that they do not retrieve them all means Oak trees are able to germinate away from the parent Oak. Conditions: low cloud and drizzle down south. Temperature: Max 10, Min 6C