The behaviour of blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) hunting for dispersed, cryptic prey was investigated in an operant simulation in which jays were trained to search projected images for noctuid moths. Each image contained either a single moth or no moth. Each trial was structured so as to simulate travelling between patches, searching within patches, and attacking and handling each moth that was detected. In two experiments in which the travel time between patches was manipulated, increases in travel time produced increased persistence within patches. Although this qualitative effect was predicted by the marginal value theorem, quantitative analyses revealed that the blue jays were using a strategy that was more sophisticated and more efficient than the simple time-in-patch rule implied by the marginal value theorem.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology