Blue and Great Tits Deploy Surprisingly Powerful Memories to Find Food, New Study Finds

A great tit wearing a radiofrequency identification tag. (Credit: James O’Neill)

Blue and great tits recall what they have eaten in the past, where they found the food, and when they found it, a new study shows. In the first experiment of its kind to involve wild animals, blue and great tits demonstrated “episodic-like” memory to cope with changes in food availability when foraging. The same study may suggest that humans leaving out seeds and nuts for garden birds could be contributing to the evolution of these memory traits. Episodic memory is a memory system involving the conscious recollection of personally experienced events. Many psychologists believe that episodic memory is uniquely human but a growing body of evidence suggests that many non-human animals possess episodic-like memory.

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