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J David Ligon

Piñon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) distinguished accurately between good and bad seeds of piñon pines (Pinus edulis). This was investigated in captives of three age groups: wild-caught adults, hand-reared yearlings, and hand-reared juveniles. All appeared to use visual, tactile (apparently weight) and auditory (‘bill-clicking’) cues. Discrimination improved with practice. Bad seeds weighted with lead shot caused only temporary confusion. Inexperienced piñon jays demonstrated an immediate preference for piñon seeds over other objects. Distinguishing good seeds from bad was learned. ‘Bill-clicking’ apparently is unlearned, as it appears in young birds in a variety of contexts. The relationship between...
Vocalizations and associated behaviour of six mated pairs of captive pinon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) were recorded under various conditions in an effort to understand functions of the calls. One vocalization, the near, was analysed for components that would allow for individual recognition by pinon jays. Fifteen vocalizations are recognized and most are described quantitatively. Much gradation occurs within and between calls, which may allow for a subtle and complex system of communication in this highly social species. Wild flocks of pinon jays also were observed to corroborate the conclusions reached. Published in Animal Behaviour, volume 25, issue 3, on pages 567 - 584, in 1977.
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