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Birds keep track of time

Birds Keep Track of Time

It has been debated whether a bird remembers certain things, such as where food has been stored as well as whether, it is still fresh.

In order to validate this hypothesis, The University of California at Davis has commissioned a study to test this theory.

If a glass of milk is left in a warm place for a day, a person would know to throw it away without having to taste it. This is because humans have an ability called episodic memory–an ability to recall events in the past that involves what, where and when.

From this study it now appears, we are not alone. Neurobiologist Nicola S. Clayton of the University of California at Davis found in experiments that the California scrub jay, can keep track of the spoiling time of stored food.

Just as squirrels and many other species, scrub jays stores food, to be retrieved at a later time. It was found in past studies that these birds find the food by memory and not by smell. In birds however, it could not be determined by way of empirical evidence, that these birds could remember, how long the food has been stored.

Clayton first gave jays larvae of wax moths and had the birds discover that after a certain amount of time the larvae rot. Then she let the birds cache both new larvae and peanuts. When the birds grew hungry, they preferred to retrieve and consume first the larvae while the treats were still fresh. But when enough time had passed for the larvae to rot, the birds went straight for their hidden peanuts–just as we would bypass milk we were sure had spoiled.

It can thus be concluded, birds does indeed possess a certain amount of episodic-memory. This phenomena, in this writers opinion, needs to be further investigated.

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