Food Caching

Jays and nuthatches are two birds which will take food and store it away for a “rainy day”. This is known as caching and is a way for the birds to set up an insurance plan for when food sources are harder to come by during the winter months.

Jays have an distensible esophagus which allows them to carry a huge amount of food away from the bird feeder to hide away in the undergrowth and trees. I’ve personally counted one take 23 peanuts in one visit.

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Researchers believe that jays can bury up to 5000 items of food a year and have a 70% retrieval record. In the case of the acorns they collect and bury the ones they fail to retrieve are responsible for the spread of oak trees! I wonder if somewhere in the woods wild peanut plants are growing?

Nuthatches tend to be single item cachers and will wedge items of food into crevices in trees or into the bark for later. Both birds are also known to rob the caches of others by watching where the food is hidden and then moving in to steal it.

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The food caches will be spread out within the birds home range so they don’t put all their eggs in one basket and to also increase the chances of not being robbed. If they think they have been watched whilst caching food they may move it and re-hide it again to protect their stash.

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So the next time your watching a jay stuff its face with peanuts it’s not just being a greedy bird it’s actually planning ahead.

4 comments

  1. marlandphotos · November 12, 2017

    Amazing! I just added peanuts to my bird feeder as an option last week. I am anxious to see if I see this happening with the blue jays! I think your’s is a different jay! I also saw a pair of bluebirds yesterday, so maybe they decided not to go South for the Winter!

    • spugwash · November 12, 2017

      I’m sure they’ll stash as many as they can

  2. bayphotosbydonna · November 12, 2017

    Great post! It is fun to watch birds ‘cache’ as much as they can. And I’m guessing there very well may be peanut plants growing somewhere in the wild! 🙂

    • spugwash · November 12, 2017

      Haha would be cool to find some

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