Right now chickadees, nuthatches and titmice are hiding food to retrieve and eat at a later time. This behavior is called “caching.” Caching helps birds survive during bad weather and when food sources are low.

These birds store hundreds of seeds a day, and each seed is placed in a different location and they generally remember where each one is even a month later.

By providing an easily accessible food source, you can help your birds with their caching needs. Below is a little more detail on some of your favorite birds’ caching behaviors.

Chickadees

• Cache seeds (in the shell and out), nuts, insects and other invertebrate prey
• Food is typically cached about 100 feet from feeders
• Cache more during the middle of the day
• May carry off several seeds at a time, but each item is stored in a separate location
• Store food in knotholes, bark, under shingles, in the ground and on the underside of small branches

Nuthatches

• Prefer to cache hulled sunflower seeds, because they are easier and faster to cache; occasionally mealworms
• Choose heavier seeds (because they are larger or have a higher oil content)
• Food is typically cached about 45 feet from feeders
• Most active caching time is early in the day
• Store food in bark crevices on large tree trunks and on the underside of branches

Titmice

• Cache sunflower, peanuts and safflower
• Food is typically cached about 130 feet from feeders
• Cache one seed at a time and typically choose the largest seeds available
• Often remove seeds from their shell (80% of the time) before hiding them

What caching activity have you seen in your yard?

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