Eurasian Jays Recognize Long-Term Mates

Eurasian Jays Recognize Long-Term Mates

Brianna Elliott
Published: 02/05/2013


Lead researcher Ljerka Ostojic with an Eurasian Jay (Photo Credit: Julia LeijolaCC-BY-NC-SA)

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and perhaps guys looking to impress their gal should clue in to the behavior of male jays: Eurasian jays can interpret changes in what their mates desire—when it comes to food, anyway.

The birds, which inhabit woodlands and forests from Western Europe to India, feed each other everything from beetles and worms to acorns and berries during courtship displays. This food-sharing behavior got researchers at Cambridge University’s Department of Psychology in England wondering if jays could interpret the internal dietary desires of their mate.

To find out, they conducted three experiments using seven pairs of mated jays housed in outdoor aviaries. They fed all of the males a diet of soaked dog biscuits, cheese, seeds, nuts, and fruit. During the experiments the females were fed either this “maintenance” diet, wax moth larvae, or mealworm larvae.

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