Clark’s nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana) are sensitive to distance, but not lighting when caching in the presence of a conspecific
We examined the caching behavior of the Clark’s nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana), a relatively asocial corvid bird, during social and non-social conditions with conspecifics. Past work by Dally et al., 2004 ; Dally et al., 2005a has found that the related but more social scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica) caches food in locations that are far away or that are more dimly illuminated when in the presence of an observer. Here, we used procedures comparable to those of Dally’s group to examine if the less social nutcracker is also sensitive to these same factors when caching in the presence of a conspecific. We found that nutcrackers cached nuts farther away, but showed no preference for caching in a dimly compared to a brightly illuminated area when in the presence of a conspecific observer. When comparing the measures of cache protection used in the past work with scrub jays the results are consistent with the social organization of these birds; that is, the less social nutcracker engaged in fewer cache protection behaviors than the more social scrub jays, However, we explore other possible explanations for our findings given the wider body of literature on corvid cache protection suggesting that nutcrackers and scrub jays may be more comparable.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Tornick, J. K., Rushia, S. N., Gibson, B. M. (2015) Clark’s nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana) are sensitive to distance, but not lighting when caching in the presence of a conspecific. Behavioural Processes 123: 125-133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2015.10.023
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