14 SMART COOKIES
What does it mean to be smart? Some say acing a math test puts you at the top of the class. Others argue winning first place in a spelling competition makes you a brainiac. For animals, it means having the brains to survive.
There are two things you should know about Scrub Jays. They don’t like to share and they’ll go to great lengths to keep their food stash a secret. This bird knows that if another Scrub Jay is watching while it hides a nut, there’s a good chance it will keep a mental note of where the nut was stashed, swoop in and then steal it. To avoid this, the first Scrub Jay will return to the location and move the nut to a secret location when the potential thief isn’t around.
WISE OLD RAVENS
Ravens get smarter as they age. Researchers have found that young and adult ravens act differently when feeding on a carcass. Young ravens will holler during their feeding to attract other young ravens to the scene. Young ravens like to have others ravens around to avoid competition with other types of scavengers. Adults, on the other hand, pair up and chow down quietly so as not to draw attention to the food — keeping the whole carcass to themselves.
Did you know some animals living in the city have bigger brains than animals living in the countryside? It’s true! Small mammals like bats, mice, shrews, squirrels and even voles that live in cities have evolved to have larger brains, and that gives them an edge in finding food, moving through the city and spotting threats.
When grey squirrels spot a potential predator, they usually warn other squirrels. They do this using a combination of barks and tail flags (flicking their tails around in the air). But between traffic, construction and chatter, city life is noisy, and those barks can go unnoticed. Luckily these urban squirrels are smart! They don’t use barks as often in the city and have started communicating more regularly through tail flags to get their point across.
Clark’s Nutcracker will collect up to 30,000 pine seeds in the month of November and then bury them. But it won’t bury the seeds in a single place. Nope! It spreads out the seeds in a 520-square-kilometre area — that’s as big as a lot of cities. Here’s where things get interesting. Over the next eight months, the Clark’s Nutcracker will find 90 per cent of the buried seeds — even if they’re covered in snow!