do birds store food for the winter

The answer is yes, but only a few species take part in what is known as “caching”. Caching is the activity of collecting and hiding food to be eaten at a later time by birds. Although this activity is obviously very prevalent during the fall and winter, most birds that do store food, tend to do so for most of the year.

You can find a wide variety of birds that take part in caching, often storing hundreds of seeds each and every day. Chickadees, Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, some Woodpeckers, Jays & Crows will all store their food for a later point in time. The Northern Shrike is also another example of a bird that will store his food like moles and mice on sharp objects like thorns and wire fences.

The location of caches will vary depending on the bird’s habitat. Popular storage areas include seeds and nuts wedged into the bark of trees or beneath house eaves or shingles, and many birds will cache food by burying it or covering it with leaves or mulch.

The amazing part about this all is, after storing hundreds of seeds per day over a variety of locations, these species can remember where each seed was placed, even over a 30 day period. This is mainly due in part to their hippocampus, the part of their brain used for spatial memory. This part of these birds’ brains actually grows larger in size during the fall season to aid them in remembering the location of their cached food.

These caching birds are great for the environment, particularly in helping certain species of trees grow and mature. In forested areas, birds are often responsible for helping tree growth from their stored nuts and seeds. In fact, there are now 11 species of oak trees that depend on Jays for the dispersal of their acorns. — Louise Beckinsale // remove app code

You Are What You Cache: Food Preferences in Birds

The question of what kinds of foods birds store away is raised by the idea of their food storage, and the answer varies greatly depending on the species. You see, birds have food preferences just like humans do (cheeseburger, anyone?).

For example, Jaybirds, cache acorns. A kind of food so popular that thousands of them could be gathered in a single season Conversely, woodpeckers and chickadees favor insect larvae and seeds.

The Clark’s Nutcracker a real caching expert. Each season, they are able to store up to 30,000 pine seeds, and they can recall where they are kept. Quite the eidetic memory, right?.

Cache and Carry: Storage Techniques of Birds

While it might seem like a simple matter to store food—just stash it somewhere hidden, right? Well, not for our feathered companions. They have quite the dexterity when it comes to hiding food.

Some birds, like the nutcrackers and jays, prefer ‘scatter-hoarding. They will store their food in different locations, forming an extensive network of makeshift pantries. Others, like the shrikes, take a slightly more ‘ghoulish’ approach. Shrikes skewer their food to consume later, much like a kebab, on thorns or barbed wire.

The kind of food and the particular species of bird determine where to store it most of the time. Certain birds have a preference for hiding food in the snow, on the ground, or in the cracks of trees.

The care and thought put into this behavior is amazing. It’s not only about surviving; they also need to make food plans.

Bird Caching 101: More than Just Bird Hoarders

“Bird caching” isn’t a term you hear every day. It is, however, as exciting as it sounds.

Caching is the clever way that birds preserve their food for later use. They do this in a variety of locations and methods, including the ground, tree bark, and beneath leaves. You could refer to it as their take on hiding emergency snacks in the glove box or that hidden candy drawer.

Nonetheless, its not solely a matter of chance. Birds arent just tiny hoarders in the animal kingdom. Birds’ ability to adapt, remember, and display shrewd behaviors is demonstrated by their fascinating behavior of storing food during the winter or other times of scarcity. They do this to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of resources available during the most severe weather conditions.

Keep in mind that a bird may be concealing tomorrow’s dinner the next time you see it fluttering around a tree.


Do Blue Jays stockpile food?

Jays are smart. Many jays, including the Blue Jay, store food for sustenance in harsher seasons. Over a few months, an individual bird may cache nuts, insects, even worms, in several thousand spots. And relocate nearly all of them as needed.

Should you stop feeding birds in the winter?

Should I feed birds year-round? It’s not necessary. Bird feeding is most helpful when birds need the most energy, such as during temperature extremes, migration and in late winter or early spring, when natural seed sources are depleted. Most birds don’t need your help in the summer.

Do birds have a hard time finding food in the winter?

The second problem to be surmounted in winter is finding food. For most birds, food supplies become greatly reduced in winter just when food is most required as fuel for keeping them warm.

How long can birds go without food in winter?

Using the same example above of a medium-sized songbird, we can estimate that a typical bird, with 10% of its bodyweight being composed of fat, will survive 1 to 3 days. However, if that bird has no body fat, its survival time could be less than a single day.