Page:Condor6(4).djvu/11

This page needs to be proofread.


94 THE CONDOR VOL. VI gently poked with a tripod, gladly disgorged squids for our inspection. The red- looted booby also feeds on fish. The common booby, Sula sula, for some reason best known to itself, does not live on Laysan, but we encountered it on Necker, a high, rocky islet, a few hun- dred miles to the eastward, where also the two foregoing species were met with. In its habits the common booby much resembles Sula cyanops, depositing two eggs on a shelf of rock, and rearing only one young. On account of lack of time and proper apparatus we were unable to secure satisfactory photographs. Stanford Universit,, California. California Jays and Cats BY JOSEPH MAILLIARD E always have several cats around our home at San Geronimo for the pur- pose of keeping the house free from rats and mice, which they do most effectively. These cats are daily fed in the back yard and some Califor- nia jays have discovered that they can get good free lunches there also. Through- out most of the year several are in the habit of coming around at frequent inter- vals through the day to feed on what remnants may be left. At nesting time they usually scatter.among the brushy hillsides and are not often in evidence, but this season apparently one pair has remained at the house, and these two birds have become highly educated. Not being content with rem- nants alone they dodge around among the cats for better picking, and even resort to strategy to obtain particular bits of food that the animals are intent upon. How- ever, the cats themselves have also grown wise in their own generation and it is seldom that a jay can make a cat leave its own particular rid-bit. Each has the measure of the other, and while a cat is watching, it is rarely that a jay approaches within reach of its business end, though it will do all it can to make the cat jump at it, or at least turn away. Grimalkin has learned to keep her tail well curled up when feeding, as a favorite trick of the jay is to give a vigorous peck at any ex- tended tail and, when the cat turns to retaliate, to jump for the prize and make off with shrieks of exultation. These birds are not afraid of any of us within reason- able distance, though keeping a weather eye open for too 'close an appronch. None of these actions are remarkable when one considers that it is the result of a course of education that has been going for some time that has produced them, but what does seem peculiar is that this particular pair of jays delight in wantonly teasing the cats in a most persistent manner. To find a cat napping, with its tail par- tially extended is absolute joy to one of these birds, which will approach cautiously from the rear, cock its head on one side and eye that tail until it can no longer resist the temptation. and, finally after hopping about a few times most carefully and noiselessly, Mr. (or Mrs.) Jay will give the poor tail a vicious peck and then fly, screeching with joy, to the nearest bush. Watching one of these demonstrations one evening made me think of writing these notes. A large black cat was asleep on the edge of the roadway back of the house and as I was sitting on the porch about twenty yards away, one of the jays hopped down from a bush and approached the animal, whose tail was drawn in