Abstract and Keywords
The avian food-caching paradigm has greatly contributed to the understanding of a number of cognitive capacities. A major strength of using the food-caching paradigm to test for cognitive abilities lies in the combination of ethological validity coupled with rigorous experimental control. Most of the comparative work on food-caching birds has been conducted on two families of birds: the Corvidae (the crow family, which includes ravens, jays, magpies, and nutcrackers) and the Paridae (tits and chickadees). This chapter begins with a brief overview of the variations among species in caching in relation to ecological and cognitive demands. It then turns to the role of cognition for caching and cache-recovery decisions in members of the Corvidae, a family known for its relatively large brain-to-body size ratio and its complex cognition. It concludes with a discussion of why an understanding of evolution in general, and of the phylogeny of the studied species in particular, is essential for how we interpret species differences in cognition.
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