Cache Site Memory in Birds

  • Russell P. Balda
  • Kenneth G. Bunch
  • Alan C. Kamil
  • David F. Sherry
  • Diana F. Tomback


Many animals establish scattered caches of food and later recover them. During recovery, they behave like other foraging animals in many ways. They travel between caches, choose which caches to recover, and decide when to stop feeding at a particular cache and move on to search for another. There is, however, one important difference between cache recovery and most other forms of foraging. The caches were originally created by the animal foraging for them. Therefore, the spatial distribution of caches is, at least potentially, fully known to the cache-forager. This chapter examines the evidence that cache locations are remembered. Results from studies of gray jays (Perisoreus canadensis), Clark’s nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana), marsh tits (Parus palustris) and black-capped chickadees (Parus atricapillus) show that the spatial locations of large numbers of widely scattered caches are accurately remembered for several days or weeks, or more. This finding is interesting in itself. In addition, if the memory capabilities found in food-storing birds have any generality, many instances of foraging may be assisted by similar large capacity, long-term memory for spatial locations. As well as for other properties of the distribution of prey.


Spatial Memory Versus Versus Versus Versus Versus Interocular Transfer Food Cache Error Search 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Russell P. Balda
    • 1
  • Kenneth G. Bunch
    • 2
  • Alan C. Kamil
    • 3
  • David F. Sherry
    • 4
  • Diana F. Tomback
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of Colorado at DenverDenverUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Psychology and ZoologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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