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11-20-13 black-capped chickadee IMG_0107Black-capped Chickadees actually refresh their brains once a year. According to Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology, every autumn Black-capped Chickadees allow brain neurons containing old information to die, replacing them with new neurons so they can adapt to changes in their social flocks and environment.

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16 responses

  1. Wow! That would seem to have tremendous implications about resilience and adaptability in the changing environment. I wonder if that occurs in other animals? Birds in particular? Or just some birds? Great photo, too.

    November 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm

  2. Marie Kirn

    Mary – Maybe we are just refreshing our own brains when we let thoughts go. I like the idea of an active “delete” button refreshing my brain neurons. Of course, you’ve thought of that too.

    Hope to see you at the Thanksgiving meal; Sarah will likely be there with me. Have you heard anything about ways to work on and around the meal? Marie

    November 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm

  3. Bunny

    I wonder if anyone is doing research on this for us humans.

    November 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm

  4. Mary

    This sounds suspicious to me, like an April 1 posting. How could they possibly know the content of a chickadee brain?

    November 21, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    • A Dr. David Sherry has done a lot of neurobiological research on black-capped chickadees. You can find more information about this in an article in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience: Barrett, M.C. & Sherry, D.F. Consolidation and reconsolidation of memory in the Black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus).

      November 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

  5. Melanie Cerne

    Chickadees have nothing on me – I forget more than I learn on a daily basis!

    November 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm

  6. I’ve always been amazed at how the chickadees remember me from year to year as the one who brings them seeds (I feed them by hand in the woods). I’m so glad they don’t lose all their useful memories!

    November 21, 2013 at 3:59 pm

  7. Barbara Keeling

    Well, no kidding….I wish I could count on refreshing my neurons once a year….or week….. or day……. or hour!!! Doing better after taking a day off from the IRS and heating issues. Back today but with less frustration. Talk soon. xo

    November 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm

  8. viola

    question: Go back a week plus to the mystery photo of ll/12, a diving bird or mammal. I never recived a message on the 13th or any other blog message revealing the answer. Is there a way to find it? Would greatly appreciate instructions to go backwards within the blog.

    I will follow new information about the chickadee’s brain with great interest. Were they born to be ever cheerful?!


    November 21, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    • I have no idea why you didn’t get 11/13/13 blog. If you go to the calendar below the “search” box on my blog page and click on November 13th, you should find it!

      November 22, 2013 at 2:29 am

  9. Sally Page

    Wish I could refresh my brain!

    November 21, 2013 at 10:16 pm

  10. Irma Graf

    Amazing! We humans need to have that ability!

    November 22, 2013 at 3:08 am

  11. Oh, please, oh, please. Can we have a chickadee as our Senator from New Hampshire???

    November 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm

  12. Susie Peters

    Hi Mary, This is quite an amazing piece of information.  Wouldn’t you think Alzheimer’s researchers would be interested in studying the chickadee brain?  The only problem is that the chickadee would have to die, which is a huge problem.  I"ll have to check out the Cornell site to see how they discovered this phenomenon. Thanks for keeping our brains continually refreshed with fascinating facts! Susie

    November 22, 2013 at 7:03 pm

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