Crows have a very strong instinct to hide extra food for future use. In fact, blue jays, known for their fondness for acorns, are thought to be responsible for the spread of oak forests. According an article by Carter Johnson and Curtis Adkisson, published in Natural History, they observed 50 jays who transported and cached 150,000 acorns in 28 days, about 110 acorns per day for each bird.
But caching is more than flying back and forth hiding food; it is a chess game between corvids. One crow will watch another with food, note where the fellow bird has hidden the morsel and then swoop down and steal it when the first one has flown off. However, if the first one knows that a second is watching, it will pretend to hide the food and then fly off, leaving the spy to scrounge around while it hides the food unobserved someplace else.
Or there is Ruckus’s system which is simply to glare at the intruding human until he retreats. Super Hub recently had such a run-in with Our Feathered Mistress, after he served chick, dog food balls, beef heart and a leftover fortune cookie for dinner:
Deliver food, and she [Ruckus] is more interested in face time than dinner. Perched on my wrist, basking in the attention that is, of course, only her due….and then I say “Don’t you want your COOKIE?” Focus no longer on getting attention, focus is now on FINDING THE COOKIE!! Check the hands, nothing. Check assessable pockets, nothing. GLARE at Minion for making this nonconvenient. Realize that she has yet to check the food dish. Laser focus on food dish. SUCCESS!! POUNCE! COOKIE acquired. Minion no longer needed. Busy now. Cookies to hide. Glance at Minion, “You’re still here?”
So, yes, we have learned when to avert our eyes so that caching can take place. I only drew the line earlier today when Ruckus decided that my bra was the best place to store a piece of bacon. I have no idea why she thinks that hiding food on my person is a good idea, but she has stuck to this theory ever since she was a chick. Super Hub says I should be flattered, but he’s not the one getting dog kibble shoved in his ear.