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Western Blue Jays Hold a Funeral for Dead Bird

are not the only animal that mourn their dead, but this is quite surprising:
when a Western Scrub Jay bird encounters a dead bird, it will call out
to others to stop foraging and, well, for lack of better words, attend
a bird funeral.

The revelation comes from a study by Teresa Iglesias and colleagues
at the University of California, Davis, US. They conducted experiments,
placing a series of objects into residential back yards and observing
how western scrub jays in the area reacted.

The objects included different coloured pieces of wood, dead jays,
as well as mounted, stuffed jays and great horned owls, simulating the
presence of live jays and predators. [...] The jays reacted indifferently
to the wooden objects.

But when they spied a dead bird, they started making alarm calls, warning
others long distances away.

The jays then gathered around the dead body, forming large cacophonous
aggregations. The calls they made, known as "zeeps", "scolds"
and "zeep-scolds", encouraged new jays to attend to the dead.


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September 1st, 2012

Stranger to the World


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