Submissive Behavior

scrub jay behavior study

Yesterday I was explaining to a friend of mine a peculiar behavior I witnessed among a small group of Scrub Jays several weeks ago. Part of the reason I started this blog is because I couldn’t find this particular behavior documented anywhere online in regard to the Florida Scrub Jay.

The dominant male of the group was taking a nut and stashing it in the sand. The main female (his partner) followed him around a bit and waited until he walked away from his stash to retrieve his newly stashed nut for herself. He stood a distance away and studied her movements. When it became clear she was after his cached nut, he approached her aggressively.

This is typically when other birds of the group would simply back off and run away. But this female laid on her back in a submissive position as to almost say “hey, I’m not trying to challenge you but I am hungry. Have some mercy!” This is much like the behavior I have seen in dogs when one is submitting to a more dominant animal. Its the “no contest” approach.

She also did a little bit of that wing-fluttering move that juveniles do when they are hungry and she let out a little squeak as well. This behavior has been documented online as one which an adult female will exhibit from time to time.

I have probably spent hundreds of hours observing this species of bird and this is the only time I have seen this type of interaction.

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