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Caching behavior in two corvids, American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) and western scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica) were recorded using motion-activated cameras and direct observations in order to compare behavioral differences between the two species. Investigating bird caching behavior is important in determining the cognitive capacity of each bird species and displaying how these avian species may have adapted to living successfully in urban ecosystems with highly variable food sources. Both species were baited using peanuts. We video recorded how birds selected peanuts to examine potential size or weight preferences specific to either species. After initial observations of caching behavior with untreated peanuts, food dye was applied to peanuts with a mass greater than 2.5g. contained within a group of undyed peanuts with a mass below 1.5g. By varying which group the dye was applied to, it was possible to examine the extent to which corvids were capable of recognizing patterns associated with their food source in order to optimize caching productivity. The ability to rapidly recognize changes and patterns associated with their food sources could allow for rapid adaptation in feeding that provides corvids with a significant selective advantage in urban environments.

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Caching Behavior in Corvids: Cognition and Pattern Recognition