Bird Intelligence -- The Eurasian Jay

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Careful planning -- the balancing of future and present needs -- requires intelligence, foresight and self-control.

If these qualities sometimes seem scarce among humans, you might be surprised to find them in abundance among certain avian citizens of the Eurozone.

Jays are already famous for their abilities at hiding food -- and sometimes move their stashes if they think they were spotted. Some dismiss this as a robot-like ability hard-wired into their brains.

But now ingenious experiments with Eurasian Jays have revealed that the birds are able to envision the point of view of another individuals.

  Honeyguide Stamp

The Jays were fed peanuts until they were full, then given a chance to hide extra food in trays that they knew would be available later. Training sessions quickly taught the birds that certain trays could be accessed only at specific times. When offered multiple food types, such a raisins, the birds sorted the foods into specific trays based upon their anticipated needs -- the equivalent of finishing lunch, and then stocking up your grocery shopping cart for a series of dinners you are planning next week. Even more amazing, male birds thoughtfully anticipated their mates desires by switching among varied foods that oftered a change from diets that might have grown boring.

These experiments demonstrated the Eurasian Jays' logical ability to plan for situations in which their future needs might change, a remarkable cognitive feat for both bird and biologist!

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