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Cache and recovery behavior of wild pinyon jays in northern Arizona

Nancy G. Stotz and Russell P. Balda
The Southwestern Naturalist
Vol. 40, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 180-184
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30054418
Page Count: 5
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Cache and recovery behavior of wild pinyon jays in northern Arizona
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Abstract

We observed wild pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) in and around residential areas near Flagstaff, Ariz. (Goconino Go.) to document seasonal and age-related patterns in cache and recovery behaviors. Caching was most prevalent during fall, while recovery was most common in winter. Most caching bouts (72%) involved multiple cache sites (X = 4.24 sites/caching bout). Fewer than 20% of recovery bouts involved multiple sites (X = 1.24 sites/recovery bout); thus, clumps of caches were not depleted systematically during recovery. About 60% of caching bouts included only cache sites in the ground; during the remainder of caching bouts, at least some caches were made above ground, most often in tree bark. Above-ground sites were most commonly used in winter and may be preferred when cold temperatures and snow make ground sites inaccessible. Aggressive interactions between pinyon jays occurred during 16% of caching bouts and 26% of recovery bouts. Over 25% of all recovered items were recached instead of being eaten; recaching may help jays to avoid cache theft and to control temporary food resources. Juvenile pinyon jays made their first caches three weeks after fledging; these early caches were of non-food items. Caching of non-food items lasted up to 14 weeks after fledging. This may allow young jays to develop skills necessary for successful caching as adults.

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