Arlington Heights, Illinois

Ron Zick

We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.

Arlington Heights, Illinois

321 E. Rand Road
Arlington Heights, IL 60004

Phone: (847) 259-7286
Fax: (847) 259-8260
Email: Send Message

Store Hours:
Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

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Caching Food for Winter

 

Fall is here, and that means it’s time to prepare for the cold winter months. Did you know that many bird species store food for winter? It’s called “caching.” Birds such as Chickadees, Blue Jays, Nuthatches, Titmice, Woodpeckers, Crows, and Ravens cache food which they can retrieve later. Stored food includes sunflower seeds, pine nuts, peanuts, and acorns.

 

Red-breasted Nuthatch hiding seed:

 

This fall, pay attention to birds’ behavior after they leave the feeder. Chickadees, Titmice, and Nuthatches like to wedge seeds in cracks in the bark of trees. You will see them shell the seeds before storing them. Other locations may include under roof/side shingles, house eaves, undersides of branches, inside dead leaves, and twigs. Blue Jays and Nuthatches will often “hide” their seeds by covering them with leaves, moss, or grass.

 

Studies show that the location of cached food is often not selected based on its protection from the elements. Birds are more concerned about making it difficult for “cache robbers” to find their food. Some birds are better at this than others. Chickadees and Titmice often don’t cover their stored food, but they usually store it up high in trees and in smaller branches, where it’s more difficult for other animals to find it. Jays, Crows, and Ravens will often store food on the ground, but will cover it for protection.

 

See the below video of a Blue Jay covering up seed with leaves:

 

Since their lives depend on it, birds can remember hundreds and even thousands of cache locations and go right to them five or six months later. Remember, birds barely have any sense of smell or taste, so they must rely on their memory to find their food. The jay family of birds is perhaps the most talented. Blue Jays store about 2,000 to 4,000 nuts and retrieve about 30% of them. Other animals or birds may steal the stored food, but rarely to jays of the same species steal from one of their own, eve if they observed where the other jay cached the food. Birds will often remember key landmarks, such as rocks, trees, or shrubs that surround their cache locations. They will often rely on these landmarks to retrieve their cached food. If a landmark changes, birds may have trouble finding their cached food, but some birds are better than others.

 

Please visit the below links for more information about winter caching.

·      http://albert-burchsted.suite101.com/birds-remember-where-food-caches-are-a68698

·      http://www.box.net/shared/fsxstr14av8ssmk715np

·      http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Condor/files/issues/v095n02/p0483-p0484.pdf

·      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoarding_(animal_behavior