Long-term spatial memory in four seed-caching corvid species

Peter A. Bednekoff, Russell P. Balda, Alan C. Kamil, Arla G. Hile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

76 Scopus citations


Clark's nutcrackers, Nucifraga columbiana, pinyon jays, Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus scrub-jays, Aphelocoma coerulescens, and Mexican jays, A. ultramarina, differ in their dependence on cached seeds in their natural environments. The hypothesis that these species differ in their long-term ability to remember the locations of caches was tested in the laboratory. Birds recovered caches 10, 60, 150 and 250 days after making them. All species performed at levels better than chance overall, but scrub-jays and Mexican jays performed with modest accuracy at all time intervals. Nutcrackers and pinyon jays performed very accurately with 10- and 60-day intervals but not after longer intervals. These results corroborate the species differences in spatial memory that have been observed in previous studies. The performance of scrub- and Mexican jays can, however, be interpreted either as the rapid forgetting of most information or as the long-term retention of a small amount of information. Therefore it cannot be concluded that these four species differ in their long-term spatial memory abilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-341
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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    Bednekoff, P. A., Balda, R. P., Kamil, A. C., & Hile, A. G. (1997). Long-term spatial memory in four seed-caching corvid species. Animal Behaviour, 53(2), 335-341. https://doi.org/10.1006/anbe.1996.0395