Jays are not so smart after all.
Jays are pretty good at seeing through the cups-and-balls trick. That’s the one where you have three cups upside down with a treat under one of them. Then you move the cups swiftly around in front of someone to see if they can guess where the cup with the treat has fetched up. Jays can spot the cup with the treat, although if you switch the treat to a lesser one then they get annoyed. But they cannot spot the French drop. That’s when you use sleight of hand to transfer an object from one hand to the other. Researchers think that’s because jays don’t have opposable thumbs, so they don’t understand grasping like we do. Moreover, they can’t spot the fast pass. That’s when you throw an object quickly from one hand to the other, so quickly in fact that your audience doesn’t spot the switch. In this case, researchers think it’s because jays have to switch from one eye to the other to match the change in hand and they lose some of their visual acuity in so doing. There’s nothing magical about animal cognition.
Link to article: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg25233654-000-what-doing-magic-tricks-for-birds-is-revealing-about-animal-minds/
You may also like to browse other ethology posts: https://www.thesentientrobot.com/category/ethology/