Flumes Volume 2: Issue 1, Summer 2017 - Page 99

distance, swiveling their heads at almost 180 degrees to look back at him. They seemed to almost have an understanding in their eyes, one I was able to consider through the use of the binoculars. I had only caught sight of the falcons twice, but each experience brought a new understanding of the difference in interaction between Tony and the falcons and Tony and the scrub jay.

In an article in Scientific American by Jason Goldman, he reported on the metacognition capabilities of the Western Scrub Jay. It was long thought that humans were the only animals capable of “thinking about thinking”, which is ostensibly what metacognition means. It turns out that there are many animals capable of this, the Western Scrub Jay being one of them. They have

more of a conscious way of thinking than I thought was possible. Their survival is not purely based on minute-to-minute survival in nature, but instead, they have the capability to plan for the future. Goldman writes on a

lab experiment that was done to test this theory:

He let five birds watch two researchers hide food… The first researcher could hide the food in any of four cups lined up in front of him. The second had three covered cups, so he could place the food only in the open one. The trick was that the researchers hid their food at the same time, forcing the birds to choose which one to watch. If the jays were

capable of metacognition, Watanabe surmised, the birds should realize that they could easily find the second researcher's food. The wax worm had to be in the singular open cup. They should instead prefer keeping their eyes on the setup with four open cups because witnessing where that food went would prove more useful in the future. And that

is exactly what happened: the jays spent more time watching the first researcher.

We often hear the term “bird-brain”, but in this instance, we know that is absolutely untrue for the for this species of bird. With the capability to think about the future and the best ways to go about long-term survival, the Western Scrub Jay is capable of a lot more thought and decision-making than many other species in the animal kingdom.

After the death of his mate, the longest disappearance of the scrub jay lasted about a week. Tony was laying on the couch that backs up to a large window that overlooks the backyard. Without a care in the world, he was