Cache Recovery and Spatial Memory in Clark's Nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana)

Alan C. Kamil, Russell P. Balda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


Clark's nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana) cache pine seeds and recover them months later. Four experiments tested the ability of nutcrackers to relocate their caches when the cache sites were selected by the experimenters. During Experiment 1, birds had 18 different cache sites available during each of three caching sessions, followed 10 days later by four recovery sessions. Recovery performance was above chance, and there were frequent revisits to previously emptied cache sites. During Experiment 2, hunger level (manipulated by prefeeding) had no effect on recovery accuracy. During Experiment 3, the birds were released into the experimental room with no seeds present. Probing behavior was directed at old cache sites of Experiment 1 and especially of Experiment 2. During Experiment 4, the number of holes available during caching sessions was found to have no effect on the accuracy of 3 of the 4 birds. Spatial memory appears to be a primary mechanism by which nutcrackers locate their caches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-111
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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