Also called the Eurasian Nutcracker, this member of the Corvid family helps reseed forests.
The spotted nutcracker has an extensive range from Scandinavia, across northern Europe and Asia, including the coniferous forests in northern Japan.
The nutcracker is known for its prodigious memory. Working daily from August 'til December, a single nutcracker collects as many as 33,000 pine seeds and buries them in more than 2,500 separate caches. This large number of hiding places is insurance for the nutcrackers, as some caches are inevitably pilfered by rodents or lost to decay. But more remarkable than the energy invested in storing food is the nutcracker's success at recovering it - around 70%. Nesting in early spring, when snow covers the ground and food is scarce, Nutcrackers and their young may still be eating stored seeds a year after burying them.
How do they remember so well? Basic anatomy reveals they have a large hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with spatial memory.