About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Downy woodpecker hides winter food

The crisp mornings, bright colored leaves, and excited bird activity all herald winter’s approach. While some bug, fruit, and nectar birds migrate south, other birds that over-winter in Michigan may switch their diet to berries, nuts, crab-apples, and seeds.

I have numerous nuthatches, jays, chickadees and woodpeckers at the window feeder. They are not only eating lunch they are taking doggie bags away from my window restaurant. Extra seeds and nuts will be secreted away for them to retrieve and eat at a later time. They hide hundreds of seeds all over their territory, in a behavior known as scatter-hoarding to help them survive if food sources become scarce.

Each seed is placed in a different location and to remember where each one is, neurobiologists have discovered that the part of the brain that processes spatial information increases in the birds’ that hoard food. They can find each hiding spot accurately even a month later.

Chickadees are the most frequent customers at my feeder but this Downy Woodpecker was a little easier to catch on camera. He would pick up a nut from my No-Mess Nutty Mix at the feeder and then I caught him hiding it in the crack of the trumpet vine.

Related articles:
- Birds Move Trees http://bit.ly/oPqFgG
- Screech Owls cache uneaten prey items in cavities http://bit.ly/pJ7jCP
- Red-Bellied Woodpecker stores its food in the barks of trees http://bit.ly/nqYS7j
- Mine! All Mine: Why Squirrels Hoard http://bit.ly/qFANnl
- Michigan’s Top 20 Winter Backyard Birds http://bit.ly/qq5xu1
- What birds migrate from Michigan? http://bit.ly/ngkPX3

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