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in Wildlife gardening
I have just seen behaviour from a Magpie that I haven't observed before, and I was wondering if anyone else has spotted similar behaviour?
He took a piece of toast from my next door neighbour's feeder, hopped about 2 yards away from it and poked it into the lawn. he then started to pick up blades of grass to cover up the food. I thought I was seeing things but then he repeated it with another piece of toast.
We have loads of magpies around here and I have seen them dunking food into water to wet it before eating it, but I have never seen a magpie caching food like this before.
LL I've seen them dunking bread in water but not hiding food. Did it have a bushy tail?
Jays certainly do it, and they are both from the same family, so perhaps not too surprising, although I have never seen it either.
There have been a lot of studies of Magpies hiding food for later use. They seem to have an accurate long-term memory for where they left it. They also nick other birds' hidden food.
They take the dog buscuits my dogs leave every day, they used to be cautious but they're now quite brazen about it and they've worked out that the best hiding places are where the rain doesn't get to and high enough that my dogs can't get to. The ones they used to put in the lawn my dogs mopped up later when they were peckish. No pun intended.
I've seen Magpies hiding food in the pots in my front garden. I usually put peanuts on the bird table in the back garden and I've found those in the pots, so assume that's where they're taking the food from.
I've had tree seedlings coming up in my pots, when there's none of the species anywhere near I didn't consider magpies at the time but I think they're the ones that brought in the seed.
What are the trees, Jim?
What seedlings are they? If oak, then the chances are it's jays which are the culprits. There are three little oak trees in my garden now - all of which were "planted" by jays. The other small tree - a horsechestnut - was "planted" by a squirrel. The jays have tried their best to grow oak trees in my hedge too - I often watch them burying acorns there, but so far only one has grown into anything recognisable - maybe the jays remembered where they'd hidden the acorns and came back again when they were hungry!