I knew the blue jay was going to bury the peanut held in its beak because of the way he was looking around at the ground, hopping from tree to tree without letting go of his prize. I’ve been seeing bluejays bury peanuts recently — there must be a home nearby which is “handing out peanuts.”
This time I was close enough to watch the details. The bird landed on a raked pile of leaves, pine needles and gardening debris and thrust the peanut into the pile, pushing it in with its beak. But the bird went further than this in its efforts: with his beak he lifted pine needles from off to the side and laid these on top and then poked these to cover up his treasure — and he did this several times. When all was done, the bird flew to a branch which was not far off, and then, without looking back, took off.
In and of itself, I thought this was very interesting bird behavior. But it became more interesting as I recalled a coyote’s activity at the raked pile right next to this one only a couple of days before. In the interim, the piles of raked debris had changed somewhat. The coyote walked to the pile as if he knew exactly what he was doing, stuck his nose into the middle of the pile and then pushed the material on top over to the side with his nose and then with his paw. He soon found what he wanted.
I could not see exactly what it was. It was something small which he had to manipulate at the front of his mouth with his teeth and lips — as if he were peeling something small. He repeated the sequence about a foot away after finding another of the same thing. At the time I thought he might have found a snail, and he may have — but snails are not usually dug up out of the ground — they are found on bushes or in the grasses above ground. Both coyotes and bluejays are using raked piles of debris for their own purposes: for burying and unburying treasures. For all we know, the coyote might have unburied one of the bluejay’s peanuts. I’ve seen coyotes eating peanuts.