Animal Cognition

Greater challenge, smarter birds

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Science  09 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6218, pp. 142-143
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6218.142-d

Female great tits have superior memories when it comes to food.

PHOTO: © HENNY VAN EGDOM/ BUITEN-BEELD/MINDEN PICTURES/CORBIS

Males of many species, including humans, perform better than females at spatial navigation tasks. Great tits, a common European songbird, reply on spatial navigation for feeding—they pilfer stores of food cached by other bird species. Brodin and Urhan studied whether male and female great tits differed in their ability to find food after watching it get cached. Surprisingly, they found that females remembered the locations of the hidden food better than males. The authors attribute this to male dominance in foraging interactions, which makes finding food harder for females, but also makes them smarter about doing so.

Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 10.1007/s00265-014-1836-2 (2014).

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