"We soon found out that the Clark's nutcracker
is the spatial memory superstar of the avian world, and possibly of the vertebrate world."
Here, we explore one possible source of fitness loss to limber pine (Pinus flexilis, Pinaceae) from seed dispersal by Clark's Nutcracker
(Nucifraga columbiana, Corvidae): competition within multi-genet tree clusters of reproductive age.
Foraging strategies of Clark's nutcrackers
. Living Bird, 16:123-161.
1984) on red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and Clark's nutcrackers
led to the suggestion that selection by red squirrels increased cone defenses in limber pine (Pinus flexilis).
bury the seeds by the thousands and, therefore, must remember where they put them.
When Balda gave individual Clark's nutcrackers
a second chance to cache seeds in the same sandy aviary floor, the birds often choose different hiding places.
There are nearly 250 kinds of birds in this park, including Steller's jays, acorn woodpeckers, mountain bluebirds, and Clark's nutcrackers
. Have you visited this park?
(Nucifraga columbiana) of western North America bury pine seeds in shallow, subterranean caches containing from 1-15 or more seeds, with a mean of three or four seeds per cache (e.g., Tomback, 1978, 1982; Hutchins and Lanner, 1982).
Her research over time has focused on the ecological and evolutionary consequences of seed dispersal by Clark's nutcrackers
to white-bark pine and other pine species.
In laboratory tests, birds called Clark's nutcrackers
have recalled where they buried something 9 months earlier.
At the University of Idaho-Moscow, she uses radio-telemetry to study caching behavior in Clark's nutcrackers
. She describes how, each autumn, a nutcracker decides whether to become a resident of an area or emigrate away depending on the availability of whitebark seeds.
"This finding is consistent with the existence of a cognitive map in Clark's nutcrackers
, but it's not conclusive," says psychologist Alan C.
Every year, certified climbers scale the trunks to the top of plus trees and encase the cones with metal baskets to prevent the seeds from being harvested by Clark's nutcrackers
, red squirrels and other species that feast on the cones.
are adept at prying seeds from the whitebark cones and storing them in a throat pouch with the capacity to hold 80 to 100 of the nutritious nuts.
have a specially developed pouch for transporting whitebark seeds.