Captive blue jays, Cyanocitta cristata, hunted for moths in projected images in a modified operant chamber. On each trial the jays could choose between two patches: (1) a non-depleting patch with a low, uniform prey density, and (2) a depleting patch that had a high initial prey density but depleted in a single step later in the session. The number of prey available in the depleting patch was varied across conditions. The jays typically started a bout in the depleting patch and finished in the non-depleting patch, obtaining close to the maximum number of total available prey. Efficiency declined when conditions changed, then recovered. Relative efficiency was greatest in the condition with the fewest prey. The decision to leave the depleting patch appeared to be a function of both the length of the 'run-of-bad-luck' and the number of prey found within the depleting patch.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology