- Curiously Krulwich
How a 5-Ounce Bird Stores 10,000 Maps in Its Head
It weighs only four or five ounces, its brain practically nothing, and yet, oh my God, what this little bird can do. It’s astonishing.
Around now, as we begin December, the Clark’s nutcracker has, conservatively, 5,000 (and up to 20,000) treasure maps in its head. They’re accurate, detailed, and instantly retrievable.
It’s been burying seeds since August. It’s hidden so many (one study says almost 100,000 seeds) in the forest, meadows, and tree nooks that it can now fly up, look down, and see little x’s marking those spots—here, here, not there, but here—and do this for maybe a couple of miles around. It will remember these x’s for the next nine months.
How does it do it?
It starts in high