How a 5-Ounce Bird Stores 10,000 Maps in its Head

SCIENCE

It’s nutcracker season! As we begin December, the Clark’s nutcracker has stored up to 20,000 treasure maps in its 5-ounce birdbrain. And the maps are accurate, detailed, and instantly retrievable. (Nat Geo Phenomena blog)

How do nutcrackers navigate? Use our resources to find out.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

A Clark’s nutcracker perches with a precious seed atop a whitebark pine tree along the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming. Photograph by Peter Essick, National Geographic

A Clark’s nutcracker perches with a precious seed atop a whitebark pine tree along the Beartooth Highway in Wyoming.
Photograph by Peter Essick, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

 

  • Where do nutcrackers store their caches?
    • Anywhere. According to Krulwich, “Sometimes [the birds] peck little holes in the topsoil or under the leaf litter. Sometimes they leave seeds in nooks high up on trees.”

 

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: How a 5-Ounce Bird Stores 10,000 Maps in its Head

Nat Geo: How Do Birds Navigate?

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Clark’s Nutcracker

Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping: Triangulation

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