Agriculture
Treating peanut allergy bit by bit
Watching out for vultures
Making the most of a meal
Amphibians
Poison Dart Frogs
Salamanders and Newts
Bullfrogs
Animals
Missing Moose
Polly Shouldn't Get a Cracker
Koalas, Up Close and Personal
Behavior
Swine flu goes global
The Other Side of the Zoo Fence
Talking with Hands
Birds
Flightless Birds
Storks
Ibises
Chemistry and Materials
Music of the Future
Smelly Traps for Lampreys
Cold, colder and coldest ice
Computers
The Shape of the Internet
New eyes to scan the skies
Troubles with Hubble
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Digging for Ancient DNA
Dino Bite Leaves a Tooth
Big Fish in Ancient Waters
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Slip Slidin' Away—Under the Sea
Springing forward
Killer Space Rock Snuffed Out Ancient Life
Environment
The Oily Gulf
Alien Invasions
Groundwater and the Water Cycle
Finding the Past
Digging Up Stone Age Art
Prehistoric Trips to the Dentist
Settling the Americas
Fish
White Tip Sharks
Halibut
Trout
Food and Nutrition
In Search of the Perfect French Fry
Allergies: From Bee Stings to Peanuts
Sponges' secret weapon
GSAT English Rules
Order of Adjectives
Problems with Prepositions
Who vs. That vs. Which
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT Scholarship
Scotiabank Jamaica Foundation Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Scholarships
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
GSAT Mathematics
A Sweet Advance in Candy Packing
Math and our number sense: PassGSAT.com
Detecting True Art
Human Body
Cell Phone Tattlers
Surviving Olympic Heat
A Fix for Injured Knees
Invertebrates
Beetles
Ants
Dragonflies
Mammals
Bonobos
Weasels
African Hippopotamus
Parents
How children learn
Children and Media
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
Physics
Thinner Air, Less Splatter
Road Bumps
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Plants
Surprise Visitor
City Trees Beat Country Trees
Sweet, Sticky Science
Reptiles
Lizards
Box Turtles
Copperhead Snakes
Space and Astronomy
Planet Hunters Nab Three More
The two faces of Mars
Ready, Set, Supernova
Technology and Engineering
Shape Shifting
Smart Windows
Algae Motors
The Parts of Speech
Pronouns
Adjectives and Adverbs
What is a Noun
Transportation
Middle school science adventures
Robots on the Road, Again
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Weather
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
Warmest Year on Record
Recipe for a Hurricane
Add your Article

A Meal Plan for Birds

If you want to make waffles for breakfast, you have to plan ahead. First, you need to stock up on ingredients at the grocery store. Then, you need to mix the batter and remember where you stashed the waffle iron.

Birds don’t make waffles, but the results of new research suggest that western scrub jays do a bird version of thinking for their morning meals. It could be the best example yet of other animals planning ahead.

Lots of animals behave in ways that suggest they have an eye on the future. Geese, for example, fly south for the winter. After a day home alone, my cat runs to the front room when she hears me fumbling with my keys outside the door. Plenty of dogs do the same thing.

In cases such as these, however, the animals aren’t necessarily planning. They may simply be acting in response to a signal that’s built-in or learned.

Nuts are a major part of the scrub jay’s diet, and the birds normally store extra nuts by burying them. To test for planning behavior in scrub jays, researchers from the University of Cambridge in England put the birds in chambers with two side rooms. In the first part of the experiment, the researchers ground up the birds’ food so that they couldn’t store it.

On some mornings, the scrub jays were kept for 2 hours in one of the side rooms with no breakfast. On other mornings, birds were locked in the other side room, which had ground-up food. This phase of the study taught the birds that food was always available in one room but never in the other.

Then, the scientists gave eight scrub jays an evening surprise. For once, the jays could eat as many whole pine nuts as they wanted. They could also stash extras wherever they wanted.

A western scrub jay.

A western scrub jay.

Clayton Lab

And they did: The birds put most of their nuts in the room where breakfast was never served. It was as if they were putting waffle mix in an empty pantry for the next day.

In a second experiment, the scientists put peanuts in one side room and food pellets in the other. The birds learned which room was which. Then, during an evening session, the scientists gave the birds the opportunity to store both types of food.

The birds stashed more peanuts in the pellet room and more pellets in the peanut room. It would be as if you put maple syrup in a room full of waffles and waffles in a room full of syrup.

These are the first tests in any animal to meet the definition of animal planning, says Sara Shettleworth of the University of Toronto in Canada.—E. Sohn

A Meal Plan for Birds
A Meal Plan for Birds








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™