Montana Outdoors

November 16, 2017

Clark’s Nutcracker

Filed under: Birds, Trees — Tags: , , — montucky @ 4:30 pm

These birds are large, about the size of Blue Jays, and inhabit the higher mountain areas of the west. They pull out seeds from the cones of pine trees, especially White Pines, stash them in a pouch under their tongue and then bury them in a cache for the winter. Each bird will bury tens of thousands of seeds during the summer and will remember the locations of most of them: the ones they can’t find plant more trees. It is said that some birds will plant trees but the Clark’s Nutcracker will plant forests.

I had always read that the seeds of the White Pine were a large part of a Grizzly Bear’s diet, but I could never figure out how such a huge bear was able to get the seeds from the cones. I later read that they will sniff out the large caches of seeds buried by the Nutcrackers and feed on those.

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker ~ Nucifraga columbiana

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker

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November 28, 2010

Clark’s Nutcracker

Filed under: Birds, Winter — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:04 pm

This gray, white and black relative of the Jay is a very interesting bird. It is found only west of the Dakotas and usually at the higher elevations, (over 6,000 feet) where it feeds on pine seeds, especially those of the whitebark pine. It has a larger than normal hippocampus – the part of the brain that deals with spatial memory – and is capable of storing up to 30,000 seeds in over 2,500 locations that it spreads over its seasonal range from tree line where it lives in summer to the lower forest regions where it can be found in winter. I’ve seen it stated that where some birds will plant trees as a result of their seed caches, one of these over its lifetime can plant a whole forest. A Google search will yield a wealth of information on Nucifraga columbiana.

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker

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