The Full Wiki

More info on Clark's Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clark's Nutcracker
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Corvidae
Genus: Nucifraga
Species: N. columbiana
Binomial name
Nucifraga columbiana
(Wilson, 1811)

The Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana), is a large passerine bird, in the family Corvidae. It is slightly smaller than its Eurasian relative Spotted Nutcracker (N. caryocatactes). It is ashy-grey all over except for the black-and-white wings and central tail feathers (the outer ones are white). The bill, legs and feet are also black.

Clark's Nutcracker at Crater Lake, Oregon
Clark's Nutcracker landing, Mount Hood, Oregon

It can be seen in western North America from British Columbia and western Alberta in the north to Baja California and western New Mexico in the south. There is also a small isolated population on the peak of Cerro Potosí, elevation 3,700 metres (12,200 ft), in Nuevo León, northeast Mexico. It is mainly found in mountains at altitudes of 900–3,900 metres (3,000–12,900 ft) in pine forest. Outside the breeding season, it may wander extensively to lower altitudes and also further east as far as Illinois (and exceptionally, Pennsylvania), particularly following any cone crop failure in its normal areas.

The most important food resources for this species are the seeds of Pines (Pinus sp.), principally the two cold-climate (high altitude) species of white pine (Pinus subgenus Strobus) with large seeds P. albicaulis and P. flexilis, but also using other high-altitude species like P. balfouriana, P. longaeva and P. monticola. During migrations to lower altitudes, it also extensively uses the seeds of pinyon pines. The isolated Cerro Potosí population is strongly associated with the local endemic Potosi Pinyon Pinus culminicola. All Clark's Nutcrackers have a sublingual pouch capable of holding around 90 seeds; the pouch greatly enhances the birds' ability to transport and store seeds.

Surplus pine seed is stored, usually in the ground for later consumption, in as many as 2500 caches of 5-10 seeds each spread over an area of up to 20 × 20 kilometers (12.5 × 12.5 mi). The birds regularly store more than their actual needs (up to 33,000 seeds per bird!) as an insurance against seed theft by other animals (squirrels, etc.); this surplus seed is able to germinate and grow into new trees, thus the bird is perpetuating its own habitat. Closely tied in with this storage behaviour is the bird's remarkable long-term spatial memory; they are able to relocate caches of seeds with remarkable accuracy, even six months later, and even when the cache sites are buried under up to a meter (3 ft) of snow.

The diet also includes a wide range of insect prey, berries and other fruits, small mammals and occasionally flesh from carcasses. Eggs and nestlings are sometimes devoured, and peanuts and suet have become a favorite at bird tables. Food is taken both from the ground and from trees, where the Nutcrackers are very agile among the branches. The birds are able to extract food by clasping pine cones in such a way that the cones are held between one or both feet. The birds then hack the cones open with their strong bills. Rotten logs are also hacked into in order to locate large beetle grubs, and animal dung may be flipped over in search of insects. Clark's Nutcrackers can also be opportunistic feeders in more urban locations.

The species usually nests in pines or other types of conifers during early spring. Nests are built on the leeward side of the tree, wind protection being a larger concern than sunlight. Two to four eggs are laid, incubation usually occurring in 16-18 days. Incubation is performed by both the male and female parents, and the young are typically fledged by around the 22nd day. The fledglings follow their parents around for several months in order to learn the complex seed storage behavior.


The voice of this bird is extremely varied and produces many different sounds. However, the most frequent call is commonly described as khaaa-khaaa-khaaa or khraa-khraa-khraa, usually in a series of three.

This bird derives its name from the explorer William Clark. Other names include Clark's Crow and Woodpecker Crow.

External image links

Other links

References

  • BirdLife International (2004). Nucifraga columbiana. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Lanner, R. M. (1996). Made for each other: a symbiosis of birds and pines. OUP. ISBN 0-19-508903-0
  • Balda R., Kamil C., Linking Life Zones, Life History Traits, Ecology, and Spatial Cognition in Four Allopatric Southwestern Seed Caching Corvids, 2006 [1]
Advertisements

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message