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Word of the Week: Gular

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Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Gular [GUH-lar] (zoology adjective): Relating to or situated on the throat of an animal, especially a reptile, fish or bird.

When Fall comes around, Blue Jays begin to harvest acorns from the treetops. They’ll pull them right off the branches and carry them away to be stored underground. They might travel up to ~2.5 km from the Oak tree to find their chosen spot on the ground.

Blue Jays are one of many bird species that have a gular pouch. This expandable sac, which opens underneath the bird’s tongue, reaches down into the throat and upper esophagus. Because of this anatomical feature, a Blue Jay can carry up to 5 acorns at one time (three in the gular pouch, one in the mouth, and one at the tip of their bill.)

If a Blue Jay drops any of its acorns during transport or doesn’t find all of the ones they buried, 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.

Keep an eye out for Blue Jays on your next visit to High Park!

FUN FACT: A single Blue Jay can hide anywhere around 3000 – 5000 acorns in a season!