Food Storing

Copyright Mark Hryciw

Food-storing birds, like chickadees and jays, make thousands of scattered food caches that they retrieve by remembering the spatial locations of their caches. We have examined the properties of memory in black-capped chickadees and the role of the avian hippocampus in memory for cache sites.  We discovered that the hippocampus is larger in food-storing than in non-storing birds.   More adult hippocampal neurogenesis also occurs in chickadees than in non-storing birds and we have examined the role of neurogenesis in memory along with patterns of seasonal change in hippocampal neurogenesis. In current research we are investigating how the nutritional content of food affects Canada jay’s caching decisions.  We are also tracking the activity of radio-tagged chickadees in winter, when most  food storing occurs.  The behaviour of food-storing birds has allowed us to investigate many novel aspects of cognition and the avian brain.


Selected Papers

Guitar, N.A. & Sherry, D.F. (2018). Decreased neurogenesis increases spatial reversal errors in chickadees (Poecile atricapillus). Developmental Neurobiology, 78, 1206-1217.

Sherry, D. F. (2017). Food storing and memory. In: ten Cate, C. & Healy, S.D. (Eds) Avian Cognition (pp. 52-74). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK.

Sherry, D.F. & MacDougall-Shackleton, S.A. (2015). Seasonal change in the avian hippocampus. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 37, 158-167.

Hall, Z.J., Delaney, S. & Sherry, D.F. (2014) Inhibition of cell proliferation in black-capped chickadees suggests a role for neurogenesis in spatial learning. Developmental Neurobiology, 74,1002-1010.

Barrett, M.B. & Sherry, D.F. (2012). Consolidation and reconsolidation of memory in the black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus). Behavioral Neuroscience, 126, 809-819.

Feeney, M. C., Roberts, W. A., & Sherry, D. F. (2011). Mechanisms of what-where-when memory in black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus): Do chickadees remember “when”? Journal of Comparative Psychology, 125, 308-316.

Sherry, D.F. (2006). Neuroecology. In: Fiske, S.T., Schacter, D.L., & Zahn-Waxler (eds.). Annual Review of Psychology Vol 57 (pp.167-197) Chippewa Falls WI: Annual Reviews.