A comparative study of cache recovery by three corvid species

Russell P. Balda, Alan C. Kamil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


The cache recovery behaviour of Clark's nutcrackers, Nucifraga columbiana, pinyon jays, Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus, and scrub jays, Aphelocoma coerulescens, was studied following each of two types of caching sessions. During one caching session, the birds could place about eight caches in any of 15 sand-filled holes available in the floor. During the other caching session, cache site selection was less was tested with 90 holes open. All three species cached and then recovered their caches with accuracies greater than expected by chance. Pinyon jays had a strong tendency to place their caches close together, especially when 90 holes were available for caching. The recovery accuracy of nutcrackers and pinyon jays was higher than that of scrub jays. These results indicate important behavioural differences among these birds that may correlate with differences in natural history. They also suggest that there may be differences in spatial memory ability among these species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-495
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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