“Jay, Jay, Jay!”
The sounds of busy Blue Jay birds can be heard almost anywhere in High Park this season. The times in which their call travels most clearly to our ears, seems to be when we visit the park’s Black Oak Savannah habitats. Is it really that surprising? These intelligent birds are known to be quite fond of acorns and High Park’s Black Oak trees (and other oak trees) can definitely help with that.
When Fall comes, Blue Jays begin to harvest acorns from the treetops. Like squirrels, they’ll pull them right off of the branches instead of waiting from them to fall to the ground, where they might be eaten by something else. Blue Jays will also carry off the acorns to store them underground.
They might travel up to ~2.5 km from the Oak tree to find their chosen spot on the ground. Once they’ve found their spot, they’ll dump the acorns they collected, in a pile, and proceeds to bury them, one by one, in different places. A single Blue Jay can hide anywhere around 3000 – 5000 acorns in a season!
With that being said, if you’re going to hide your food, you better make sure to remember where you hid it! Luckily, Blue Jays have brains that are bigger in the part that deals with memory, when compared to other birds. But of course, no one is perfect and even the intelligent Blue Jay won’t find all of its buried acorns. These acorns will then sprout and grow into new oak trees! This relationship between Blue Jays and Oak trees is so powerful that these birds have actually been credited with helping the northward spread of Oak trees after the last glacial period. Doesn’t make you wonder where the Oak forests and Savannahs would be today without the Blue Jay?
Keep and eye and ear out for these incredible birds on your next visit to High Park!