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Bird of the Month: The Jay

Regulars | By John McEwen | October 2017


The jay (Garrulus glandiarius – the first word refers to its cry, the second to its habit of hoarding the acorn, glandis) has been of more economic benefit to Britain than any other bird.

The jay (Garrulus glandiarius – the first word refers to its cry, the second to its habit of hoarding the acorn, glandis) has been of more economic benefit to Britain than any other bird. Where would we be without the hearts of oak that allowed Britannia to rule the waves, had it not been for the planting of acorns by generations of jays? It’s said that 5,000 mature oaks went into the building of HMS Temeraire.  It has been estimated each jay can store 5,000 acorns annually, a sublingual pouch enabling it to carry three or four at a time. The acorns are usually buried in damp ground, to be retrieved when food is scarce. Jays have remarkable memories. One bird was seen recovering an acorn after burrowing through over a foot of snow. Supplies can last to help feed nestlings the following June.  The last official British count (2009)...

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