Clark's Nutcracker - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Clark's Nutcracker - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Clark's Nutcracker - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Clark's Nutcracker - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image  
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Clark's Nutcracker
Nucifraga columbiana

Jays and Crows
Corvid Family (Corvidae)

Size: Length: 30.5-33 cm

Description: The Clarke's nutcracker is a common bird of the high country. It is a large gray and black bird with a long dark beak, and gray body. The wings and tail are black with very visible white feathers. When perched, the outer edge of black tail is white, and there is a white patch visible in the folded wings. In flight, the white edge of the tail and white speculum are clearly visible.

Similar Species: The gray jay is often confused with the Clarke's nutcracker. The nutcracker has a much more visible black and gray appearance and a much longer beak. The white patches on the black wings and tail are also distinctive.

Range: Nutcrackers are a western bird, found from the Rockies west to the coast. They can be found at high elevations throughout the Canadian and American Rockies.

Habitat: Look for nutcrackers at higher elevations in broken coniferous woods.

Diet: They are particularly fond of the seeds of whitebark pine trees, using their sharp bills to pry open the cones to get at the seeds. They will eat many other types of seeds though, along with insects and anything it can steal from unsuspecting picnickers.

Nesting: Nutcrackers build their nest in a conifer, along one of the lateral branches. It is a cup of sticks, twigs and grasses, lined with some mud, bark and grass. Both adults build the nest, with the female doing most of the work. She will lay 2-3 (rarely up to 6) grayish-green (lightly mottled with brown), and the adults take turns incubating. Hatching takes place after 16-18 days and the altricial young will be cared for by both parents. They fledge at approximately 22 days, but will continue to be fed by the adults for several more days.

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All Material Ward Cameron 2005

 

 

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