Looking the other way Are Western scrub-Jays sensitive to the direction of attention of a conspecific simulated by video playback?

<p>When observed by a conspecific, food-caching Western scrub-jays employ a number of different strategies to protect their caches from theft, for example by caching in visually inaccessible locations or re-caching more of those items that the observer could see being cached (Dally, Emery, & Clayton, 2004, 2005; Emery & Clayton, 2001). These findings suggest higher social cognitive abilities in these animals (Clayton, Dally, & Emery, 2007; Clayton, 2014). The present study aimed to determine whether scrub-jays understand the direction of the attention of an observer. To test this, we used video playback to manipulate the attentiveness of the observer: scrub-jays were presented with videos of an observer either facing forward or facing away from the subject whilst the subject could cache in either a site hidden behind a barrier or in-sight. The stimuli presented on the video screen did not influence the caching and re-caching behaviour: The jays did not protect their caches from a facing forwards observer by caching preferentially in the out of sight location and they also did not re-cache caches that the observer had visual access to. This suggests that the video playback o</p> <p>When observed by a conspecific, food-caching Western scrub-jays employ a number of different strategies to protect their caches from theft, for example by caching in visually inaccessible locations or re-caching more of those items that the observer could see being cached (Dally, Emery, & Clayton, 2004, 2005; Emery & Clayton, 2001). These findings suggest higher social cognitive abilities in these animals (Clayton, Dally, & Emery, 2007; Clayton, 2014). The present study aimed to determine whether scrub-jays understand the direction of attention of an observer. To test this, we used video playback to manipulate the attentiveness of the observer: scrub-jays were presented with videos of an observer either facing forward or facing away from the subject whilst the subject could cache in either a site hidden behind a barrier or in-sight. The stimuli presented on the video screen did not influence the caching and re-caching behaviour: The jays did not protect their caches from a facing forwards observer by caching preferentially in the out of sight location and they also did not re-cache caches that the observer had visual access to. This suggests that the video playback of a conspecific is not sufficient to elicit cache protection strategies in Western scrub-jays.</p> <p>f a conspecific is not sufficient to elicit cache protection strategies in Western scrub-jays.</p> <p> </p>