Clark's Nutcracker 2011 Snoe Scene

Yellowstone Park Winter of 2011

Clark-s Nutcracker 2003 Upper Lewis Lake

First Image Emigrant 2003

Clark's Nutcracker 2007 White Mountains

Bristlecone Pine White Mountains 2007

Named for William Clark of the famed Lewis and Clark duo, this hi-altitude bird from the Jay family can be found always on top of it's favorite pine tree. Here they crack open the seeds and either feast on them or store them for feeding their young. Because of these plentiful caches, the young can hatch as early as January or February. They emit sharp, rapid and at times grating 'kraaks'.

  • Description
  • Large songbird
  • Gray all over
  • Black wings and tail, with white patches
  • Long, stout, pointed black bill
  • Size: 27-30 cm (11-12 in)
  • Weight: 106-161 g (3.74-5.68 ounces)

Cool Facts

  • The Clark's Nutcracker has a special pouch under its tongue that it uses to carry seeds long distances. The nutcracker harvests seeds from pine trees and takes them away to hide them for later use.
  • The Clark's Nutcracker hides thousands and thousands of seeds each year. Laboratory studies have shown that the bird has a tremendous memory and can remember where to find most of the seeds it hides.
  • The Clark's Nutcracker feeds its nestlings pine seeds from its many winter stores (caches). Because it feeds the young on stored seeds, the nutcracker can breed as early as January or February, despite the harsh winter weather in its mountain home.
  • The Clark's Nutcracker is one of very few members of the crow family where the male incubates the eggs. In jays and crows, taking care of the eggs is for the female only. But the male nutcracker actually develops a brood patch on its chest just like the female, and takes his turn keeping the eggs warm while the female goes off to get seeds out of her caches.

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