Hand feeding Steller's Jays
- I am happy to report that at precisely 7:15 p.m., Sunday, June 9th, 2013, a Steller's Jay took a peanut from my hand thus completing an experiment that has taken nearly two years and thousands if not tens of thousands of peanuts and a lot of patience on my part.
Conclusions: These are not trusting birds and are very suspicious and cautious in the extreme. Over the past two years I have learned a lot about Steller's Jay behavior and have even learned to imitate a number of their subtle calls of which there are many. It took me longer to actually figure out the meaning of these calls. For instance, the very quiet two note decending whistled tone which can barely be heard means, "I know who you are, I don't dislike you, but you are in my space and I think you should go somewhere else now". I figured this out when I was able to produce a perfect immitation and the bird in training would give me a look and fly away. Eventually they learned that I was probably a little simple and didn't speak "jay" and tolerated my rude conversation thereafter.
So, I can confidently say that during this experiment, I was completely trained by a pair of Steller's Jays to produce an almost limitless supply of peanuts more or less on command. Who was training who here?