Just how smart are those jays?

Dennis and I were sitting in the dining room, chatting, when the Steller’s Jays showed up for dinner, as they do every day about 4 pm. (They’re early diners.) The usual scenario is this: one jay squawks, I stop what I’m doing, get up, go outside, and dump a bunch of unsalted peanuts-in-the-shell out of the big glass jar onto the patio table. (I am very well-trained.) Soon between four and six jays are grabbing peanuts, then taking them away to hide them. Maybe we were bored that day, I don’t remember. But we both had the same idea at the same time. Jays are corvids; corvids are smart; I wonder if they’d be able to get the peanuts out of the jar by themselves?

So, for that afternoon, we changed the game. Became amateur experimenters – and outrageous anthropomorphizers. (Is that a word?) You’ll notice in the photo captions below that I quickly took to projecting all kinds of human qualities on the birds. Please don’t be offended – it was all in fun!

This photo series shares just the highlights of the afternoon’s avian activities. It actually took the jays many more tries to figure it all out. And most of them just gave up and left. I don’t blame them.

The usual scenario - easy pickins'

The usual scenario – easy pickins’

Something fishy's goin' on here ....

Something fishy’s goin’ on here ….

There seems to be something between me and the peanuts. Hmmm ...

There seems to be something between me and the peanuts. Hmmm …

How very odd.

How very odd.

Holy crow! There are a lot of peanuts in there!

Holy crow! There are a lot of peanuts in there!

I'm not pleased.

I’m not pleased.

In fact, I'm downright irritated!

In fact, I’m downright irritated!

Why isn't she dumping them out??

Why isn’t she dumping them out??

Maybe if I glare at her she'll dump them out. (I didn't - but I did feel guilty!)

Maybe if I glare at her she’ll dump them out. (I didn’t – but I did feel guilty!)

I've heard that sometimes a problem will disappear if you just ignore it long enough.

I’ve heard that sometimes a problem will disappear if you just ignore it long enough.

Well, things change. That's life. Best just get on with it.

Well, things change. That’s life. Best just get on with it.

Maybe I need a closer look.

Maybe I need a closer look.

Ah, maybe if I stand on this!

Ah, maybe if I stand on this!

Yes! I'm almost there!

Yes! I’m almost there!

Success!

Success!

Now to teach my baby.

Now to teach my baby.

Okay, watch me.

Okay, watch me.

It helps if you get up on this thing first. Give it a try.

It helps if you get up on this thing first. Give it a try.

Just hop up to the top. It's easy, once you figure it out.

Just hop up to the top. It’s easy, once you figure it out.

See? Just bend down and grab one. Nothing to it!

See? Just bend down and grab one. Nothing to it!

Reach waaayyy down ...

Reach waaayyy down …

Put one way back in your gullet first. Then you can get two in your mouth.

Put one way back in your gullet first. Then you can get two in your mouth.

Maybe I CAN do it. Mom seems to think so.

Maybe I CAN do it. Mom seems to think so.

Woah! Just me and a whole jar of peanuts!!

Woah! Just me and a whole jar of peanuts!!

I did it, Mom! All by myself!  Look!

I did it, Mom! All by myself! Look!

Ninety minutes later, the jar is half empty, or maybe half full, depending on your point of view.

Ninety minutes later, the jar is half empty, or maybe half full, depending on your point of view.

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