Posted by: atowhee | July 22, 2010

Jayconomics Revisited

Some time ago I blogged about “jayconomics,” the economic system that jays have in relation to peanuts and their hording of same.  Jays do not foresee a futures market in peanuts.  There is just now, the supply never meets the demand and the jays’ world is full of self-storage units which could altogether, theoretically, contain a nearly infinite number of peanuts.

Each morning the jays expect and then demand their daily peanuts.  Upon placing the peanuts on our garden porch, the reaction is instantaneous: first Steller’s, then the dominant though less numerous Scrub-Jays, descend and make off with the peanuts.  Rarely is a peanut shell opened at that time.  Each is hauled off and cached in secret self storage units scattered about the wooded hillside near our home.

Like any good commodity trader, each jay wants as many peanuts as he or she can get, knowing full well there will never be another chance to grab the goods.  The demand is infinite.  Even if peanuts are made available later in the day, the first jay to spy the unexpected bounty alerts the others and the peanut rush is on.  This seems to be one commodity bubble that cannot burst.  As long as there is dirt in which to dig, leaves in a small mound, there will be ample places for jays to hide an inestimable quantity of peanuts in their shells.

Jayconomics has several immutable laws.  One: take all you can get.  Perhaps Wall Street has been studying jay behavior in secret.  That often means Steller’s Jays take two peanuts in a single trip.  One in the throat, a second clutched by the beak.  Scrub-Jays do not seem to have learned this technique even though they have larger beaks.  Could this be a cultural divide between the two jay species?

Another law of jayconomics: not all peanuts are created alike.  Each jay, each peanut, each jayconomic transaction is unique.  Smaller peanut shells, or those with only a single nut, are often weighed and then rejected.  These lesser peanuts are only taken after all the larger, heavier, more valuable peanut shells with two full-sized kernels inside are gone to their hiding places.

Third law of jayconomics: the peanuts furthest from the doors into our house are taken first.  But even those peanuts left right next to the door jam WILL be taken.  Those high risk transactions are usually made by the younger Steller’s Jays, the jayconomic parallel to the 26 year old Wall Street MBAs.


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