One of our most well-known birds in North America—the black-capped chickadee—does something pretty remarkable. Throughout summer and fall, chickadees can store thousands or even tens of thousands of food items. Chickadees hide all that secret grub—a thousand bits of beetle, bug, fruit, seed—behind birch bark, under lichen, between spruce needles.
And that’s not the most amazing thing. During winter, when food is scarce, chickadees survive quite nicely by remembering where they stashed all that food. How? Scientists discovered that the memory part of the brain—the hippocampus—actually grows over 30% in the fall. So, when finding food on a frigid day in January means life or death, chickadees will remember where they cached the food.
That’s some bird brain!
It makes my day as a nonfiction author to dig deep into the research and find these wonderful examples of scientific discovery. To be able to share it with readers is icing on the cake!