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Western scrub-jays are known for their highly discriminatory and flexible behaviors in a caching (food storing) context. However, it is unknown whether their cognitive abilities are restricted to a caching context. To explore this question, we tested scrub-jays in a non-caching context using the Aesop’s Fable paradigm, where a partially filled tube of water contains a floating food reward and objects must be inserted to displace the water and bring the food within reach. We found that scrub-jays did not attend to the functional properties of objects or tubes, and were not motivated to participate in these experiments, suggesting that either this paradigm was ecologically irrelevant or perhaps their flexibility is restricted to a caching context.
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Choice order across all 20 trials per individual in each experiment
The order in which the more functional choices (dark gray: water, heavy, light, rewarded color, connected) or less functional choices (light gray: sand, light, heavy, unrewarded color, unconnected) were chosen (columns) and whether the bird successfully obtained the food (marked with an X) for trials 1-20 (rows).