Mountain chickadees remember the location of tens of thousands of seeds

See the original posting on Boing Boing

Apparently mountain chickadees have crazily awesome memories:

Despite weighing less than half an ounce, mountain chickadees are able to survive harsh winters complete with subzero temperatures, howling winds and heavy snowfall. How do they do it? By spending the fall hiding as many as 80,000 individual seeds, which they then retrieve — by memory — during the winter. Their astounding ability to keep track of that many locations puts their memory among the most impressive in the animal kingdom.

When I read that, I was like: Okay, you have my attention. The rest of that piece in Knowable Magazine is an intriguing Q&A with a researcher who’s been doing experiments trying to probe the dimensions of chickadee memory, and how it confers survivability.

(CC-2.0-licensed photo of a chickadee courtesy the Flickr stream of Geoffrey Gilmour-Taylor. BTW, it’s not a mountain chickadee, it’s a black-capped chickadee. But it’s … mountain-chickadee-adjacent, I guess? Anyway.) Read the rest