Clark's Nutcracker

Nucifraga columbiana

Order

PASSERIFORMES

Family

Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Code 4

CLNU

Code 6

NUCCOL

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Clark’s Nutcracker is resident in treeline habitats in the Rocky Mountains of North America. It ranges from southern British Columbia and Alberta, Canada south to Arizona and New Mexico in the United States of America with outlying populations in the Black Hills of South Dakota, southern California, and northeastern Mexico. It makes caches of conifer seeds to help it survive in the harsh climate of its high mountain habitat and often becomes tame around people. The Clark’s Nutcracker is believed to have a large population that shows no signs of decline and is therefore given a conservation rating of Least Concern by the IUCN.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Clark's Nutcracker: Medium, noisy and inquisitive jay with pale gray head and body. Black bill is long and stout. Wings are black with white patches and tail is black with white edges. Feeds on nuts, insects, eggs and young of other birds, lizards, carrion and small mammals. Steady deep wing beats.


Range and Habitat

Clark's Nutcracker: Resident from central British Columbia and western Alberta to southern California and New Mexico. Also recorded locally in northeastern Mexico. In winter, may wander as far east as Saskatchewan south to Texas. Prefers stands of junipers and ponderosa pines on high mountain ranges near the tree line.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"caw", "kra-a-a"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Clark’s Nutcracker has a special pouch under its tongue in which it carries pine seeds long distances to cache them. Depending upon the species of pine seed, this pouch will hold from 28 and 90 seeds.
  • This bird was first observed in 1805 by William Clark (Lewis and Clark expedition) and bears his name.
  • Unusual among members of the crow family, males of this species help the females incubate the eggs. In fact the males have brood pouches just like the females. Nestlings are fed pine seeds from the parents’ caches. This allows the adults to breed as early as January or February despite the harsh winter weather in their range.
  • A group of nutcrackers has many collective nouns, including a "ballet", "booby", "jar", and "suite" of nutcrackers.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Clark's Nutcracker

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Santiago Cornejo

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BIRDS AND BIRDING

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FaceX
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Parts of a Standing bird X
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