A flock of Pinyon Jays arrive in a flash of blue, and leave again just as suddenly. This once mysterious bird is now the subject of over 20 years of intensive research involving over one thousand color-marked jays by Russell Balda, John Marzluff and their colleagues and helpers. This plain blue bird has turned out to be anything but plain in its biology and behavior. Uniquely dependent on the seeds of the Pinyon Pine for food, they have developed a number of behavioral and morphological adaptations to best utilize this resource, above all caching enough seeds each fall to supply their needs throughout the winter and fuel their unusual habit of nesting in late winter. Fluctuation in pine seed supply, both by season and between years, poses special problems for these birds and has led to their extremely flexible and complex social system in which learning and memory play an unusually large part. They store pine seeds and retrieve them with uncanny accuracy; they form lifelong pair bonds and nest colonially, occasionally involving younger birds to help established pairs rear the young; and they use their large vocabulary to coordinate activities within one of the largest known avian societies. This intriguing story will fascinate both the enthusiastic amateur birder and the professional alike. Packed with information, it presents Pinyon Jay biology in a readable form and places them into the wider context of studies on bird ecology and evolution. Fine illustrations by Tony Angell, with additional pictures by Caroline Bauder, complete this attractive addition to any birder's bookshelf. Illustrated by well-known US artist. Attractive line illustrations and halftone plates. Fascinating cooperative behaviour. Evolutionary and ecological considerations.
Digital reprint of a book originally published in 1992.
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