Animal Cognition

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 691–698 | Cite as

Short-term observational spatial memory in Jackdaws (Corvus monedula) and Ravens (Corvus corax)

Original Paper

Abstract

Observational spatial memory (OSM) refers to the ability of remembering food caches made by other individuals, enabling observers to find and pilfer the others’ caches. Within birds, OSM has only been demonstrated in corvids, with more social species such as Mexican jays (Aphelocoma ultramarine) showing a higher accuracy of finding conspecific’ caches than less social species such as Clark’s nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana). However, socially dynamic corvids such as ravens (Corvus corax) are capable of sophisticated pilfering manoeuvres based on OSM. We here compared the performance of ravens and jackdaws (Corvus monedula) in a short-term OSM task. In contrast to ravens, jackdaws are socially cohesive but hardly cache and compete over food caches. Birds had to recover food pieces after watching a human experimenter hiding them in 2, 4 or 6 out of 10 possible locations. Results showed that for tests with two, four and six caches, ravens performed more accurately than expected by chance whereas jackdaws did not. Moreover, ravens made fewer re-visits to already inspected cache sites than jackdaws. These findings suggest that the development of observational spatial memory skills is linked with the species’ reliance on food caches rather than with a social life style per se.

Keywords

Corvid Observational spatial memory Raven Jackdaw 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IPHC-DEPE, ULP, CNRSStrasbourgFrance
  2. 2.Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle Grünau and Deptartment of Neurobiology and CognitionUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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