Sisters Country birds

 

Last updated 3/7/2023 at Noon

DOUGLAS BEALL

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker (Nucifraga Columbiana) occupies an integral role in the regeneration and maintenance of high-elevation pine forests. They store pine seeds, plucked from cones by their strong and sharp beaks, in a pouch behind their tongue. Up to 90 seeds are stored within this pouch, which are then cached in the ground over a large area. In the fall up to 33,000 seeds will be stored in the ground and the Clark’s Nutcracker is able to remember where they cached the seeds for up to nine months. The seeds they do not remove become seedlings, which sprout and help disperse healthy and genetically diverse pine trees. Over the entire year, 98,000 seeds may be cached.

The Nutcrackers can begin nesting in January because of their ample buried food source. Two to five greenish eggs are laid and then incubated, mostly by the male, who develops a brood patch on its chest which is unlike the other jays and crows within the corvid family. Hatching occurs in approximately 18 days and the nestlings fledge after another 20 days.

The Clark’s Nutcracker normally travels in groups referred to as a “booby,” “jar,” or “suite.” These gregarious birds can often be heard high in the pines kraak-kraak-kraaking. This sound enabled William Clark to locate them during the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805, and henceforth the bird was named after him. They originally described it as a woodpecker.

For more Clark’s Nutcracker images visit http://abirdsingsbecauseithasasong.com/recent-journeys.

 

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