Mountain chickadees remember the location of tens of thousands of seeds

Originally published at:


Cool story. But I still can’t find my car keys.


Hmmm. Are they hiding the seeds and then retrieving them? Or are they finding seeds, leaving them where they found them, and then retrieving them?

Because the second case is memory. The first case is having a hiding/retrieving algorithm.


And they’re ridiculously cute, too.


Clearly, you need to get a mountain chickadee to hide them and then find them for you… I wonder if there is an app for that? :thinking:


They’re in the last place you’ll look; start there.


When I pu out a new batch of fancy birdseed, especially in fall, the chickadees will show up and, bucket brigade style, will pick all the peanuts out and fly off and hide them. They don’t slow down until the peanuts are all gone, and they don’t stop to eat them, they just hide them as fast as they can. Then they feed on the rest of the seeds at a more normal and leisurely pace.


Google them.

I once read a magazine column by a journo who could not find her keys and thought “google them”. This was a few years ago, and she immediately realised this was a category error. But these days it is more of a reality, what with tracking tiles and the like.

The only reason these tracking tile things have not reached critical mass and are not yet everywhere is that the secret lab making them has a limited supply of chickadee brains and the chickadee brain-bluetooth interface is still unstable.

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This does not surprise me in the least. Every year I have exponentially expanded my outdoor bird seed purchases due to the same birds coming year after year and bringing along their descendants.
Somewhat related. I moved my indoor birds from a cage they could escape from to an aviary nearly a decade ago. I had to put them back into that cage while I repaired the aviary recently and they remembered how to escape within minutes of encountering a cage they had not seen in years. Normally I’m happy to see them come and go at will, but we were selling the house and, well, I did not want to have to clean up after them again.
Birds are cleaver little dinos.


When will we “enlightened” humans finally admit that animals of all stripes are extremely intelligent creatures.


Note to self: never go against a mountain chickadee in a game of high-stakes Concentration.


I see a niche market for farmers wanting to protect themselves from Monsanto. /s


Here’s what you have to look forward to:

I made a grocery list. Put it in my pants pocket. Went to the store. Felt the list in my hand inside the pocket. Forgot I had the list to refer to, and ended up not getting what I came for.

There is also the one about actively walking into another room and forgetting why you went in there in the first place.

Happy trails!


Who put this poop in my pants?!?!

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Interesting article, thanks!

Chickadees and other birds that store food for the winter have brains that enlarge and ramp up activity for the task of caching and recollecting all this food:

Clark’s nutcrackers are also studied for their caching and memorizing abilities. They store thousands of seeds each winter, so many that they have enough to raise their young in midwinter:


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