Study: Jays hold funerals for their dead

September 16, 2012
Advertisement
According to a US ornithologist, scrub jays take part in a bizarre ritual in which it appears that the hold a funeral for their dead.
Advertisement
Teresa Iglesias and her colleagues at the University of California, Davis, have found that when western scrub jays encounter a dead bird they adopt different behavior patterns and take part in a unique ritual.

On encountering a dead bird, jays call out to one another and stop their normal behavior of flying or foraging. Once the message has been sent out, the jays fly down to the dead body and begin to gather around it.

BBC Nature says it’s less likely the assembly resembles any form of acknowledgement of the passing of a dead bird and more likely it’s a symbolic behavior designed to warn other birds there may be a threat nearby.

Scientists have tested out the ritual of the jays by placing various objects in areas where jays are known to congregate, including the backyards of many American homes. The objects ranged from wood, models of predators, and dead jays. Most of the objects were ignored, except for the dead jays, where the signalling behavior was initiated. The ritual then proceeded to last for up to one day.

The western scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica) is a species of scrub jay native to western North America. The bird is approximately 11.5 inches in length (including its tail), with a 15-inch wingspan. The jay has a blue head, wings, and tail, a gray-brown back, and grayish underparts. The throat is whitish with a blue necklace.

A study and analysis of the jay ritual has been published in the journal Animal Behavior, in a paper titled ‘Western scrub-jay funerals: cacophonous aggregations in response to dead conspecifics’.

CDFuneralNews

CDFuneralNews

ConnectingDirectors.com is the leading online daily publication for funeral professionals with a reader base of over 45,000 of the most elite and forward-thinking professionals in the profession. With ConnectingDirectors.com we have created a global community through an online platform allowing funeral professionals to Stay Current. Stay Informed and Stay Elite.
CDFuneralNews
Advertisement

You may be interested

4 Products Beating the Funeral Merchandise Quality Epidemic
Cremation
446 views
Cremation
446 views

4 Products Beating the Funeral Merchandise Quality Epidemic

Justin Crowe - November 15, 2017

Since entering the funeral industry, I have felt a taboo around talking about the topic of quality in relation to…

ASD’s Suicide Telephone Operator Patch (S.T.O.P) System Recognized With 2017 NFDA Innovation Award
Funeral Industry Press Releases
34 views
Funeral Industry Press Releases
34 views

ASD’s Suicide Telephone Operator Patch (S.T.O.P) System Recognized With 2017 NFDA Innovation Award

CDFuneralNews - November 15, 2017

Boston, MA—On Monday, October 29, ASD – Answering Service for Directors was named the winner of the National Funeral Directors…

Passare Releases Advanced Preneed Integration with Funeral Directors Life
Funeral Industry Press Releases
40 views
Funeral Industry Press Releases
40 views

Passare Releases Advanced Preneed Integration with Funeral Directors Life

CDFuneralNews - November 15, 2017

Passare, Inc. recently released an advanced integration with Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company, offering the funeral industry’s only integration between…

Comments