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. It occurs 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 (3,700 m) in Nuevo León, northeast Mexico. It is mainly found in mountains at altitudes of 900-3900 m 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.








 
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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 eruptions 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.

Surplus Pine seed is stored, usually in the ground for later consumption, in numerous caches of 5-10 seeds each spread over a wide area (up to 20 × 20 km). The birds regularly store more than their actual needs (up to 100,000 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.

Above Images From The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service








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