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Food Caching By Willow and Crested Tits: A Test of Scatterhoarding Models

Simo Jokinen and Jukka Suhonen
Ecology
Vol. 76, No. 3 (Apr., 1995), pp. 892-898
DOI: 10.2307/1939354
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1939354
Page Count: 7
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Food Caching By Willow and Crested Tits: A Test of Scatterhoarding Models
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Abstract

In coniferous forests of Central Finland, Willow (Parus montanus) and Crested Tits (P. cristatus) store seeds in a scattered distribution within their territory during the autumn. Individuals cache and recover food items while moving together as members of mixed-species flocks. The purpose of this study was to test certain predictions of scatter-hoarding models (Stapanian and Smith 1978, Clarkson etal. 1986), which predict how the animal should hoard food items from a superabundant source to maximize the number of caches recovered. Our field experiments gave support to most of the predictions of the models. Individual tits stored seeds closer to the food source when food had been available for first time (new feeder with seeds not previously available) than to feeders with seed available for 1 mo. Individual birds of both species carried large food items (hulled sunflower seeds) father than small items (spruce seeds) before caching them. Crested Tits distributed their catches uniformly around the feeder while most of the Willow Tits favored certain sectors around the feeder. Subdominant individuals carried seeds the same distances as did dominant birds when the food source was ephemeral, but farther from a continuously available food source.

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