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common name for a small crow of the genus Nucifraga in the family Corvidae (crow family). The Old World nutcracker (N. caryocatactes) is found throughout the colder regions of Europe, including high mountain forests. Its plumage is chocolate brown, speckled with white. With its strong, conical beak, it feeds omnivorously on a diet of conifer seeds, nuts, small buds, and insects. In a squirrellike fashion, it stores seeds during the summer and fall against the winter's snow, and has a remarkable ability to relocate its cache exactly, even though covered with snow. Clark's nutcracker (N. columbians), pale gray with black and white wings, is found throughout W North America, and is similar in its habits and choice of habitat to N. caryocatactes. It somewhat resembles a stout-billed mockingbird. Like most crows, nutcrackers are intelligent and aggressive birds. They are highly gregarious, and their flocks show a complex social organization. Their young are born blind and helpless. Nutcrackers are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Corvidae.



(Nucifraga caryocatactes), a bird of the family Corvidae of the order Passeriformes. The body measures approximately 35 cm long. The plumage is dark brown spotted with white. The nutcracker is distributed in the coniferous forests of Europe and Asia. In the USSR it lives in the taiga zone and the forests of Tien-Shan. In winter it makes short migrations. It feeds on seeds, mainly those of the nut pine and fir, on insects, and occasionally on rodents. During years of poor conifer seed yield, the nutcracker makes massive migrations. The bird nests in trees in dense forests. The female lays three to four, rarely five, speckled eggs, which hatch in 20 days. The nutcracker, in eating numerous seeds from the nut pine, promotes the nut pine’s spread as well as growth over burned and felled areas, since it stores the seeds in the ground.


Ptitsy Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 5. Edited by G. P. Dement’ev and N. A. Gladkov. Moscow, 1954.


either of two birds, Nucifraga caryocatactes of the Old World or N. columbianus (Clark's nutcracker) of North America, having speckled plumage and feeding on nuts, seeds, etc.: family Corvidae (crows)


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References in periodicals archive ?
An experimental analysis of cache recovery in Clark's nutcracker.
Coadaptations of the Clark's nutcracker and the pinon pine for efficient seed harvest and dispersal.
Limber pine seed harvest by Clark's nutcrackers in the Sierra Nevada: timing and foraging behavior.
Should humanity get a little too full of itself and its intellectual prowess, there's always Clark's nutcracker to think about.
Simulating Clark's Nutcracker caching behavior: germination and predation of seed caches.
Many animals have shown an ability to reach a desired location on the basis of its distance and direction from a stable landmark, but Clark's nutcrackers navigate according to abstract geometric relationships between pairs of moving landmarks, Kamil and Jones assert.
Whitebark pines are also slow to recover due to their reliance on Clark's nutcrackers and red squirrels for regeneration.
While Clark's nutcrackers prepare for the winter by planting whitebark seeds, red squirrels are busy gleaning cones and gathering them into large caches called middens.
The prized seeds are picked and stashed by red squirrels in some habitats, but more commonly, whitebark seeds are the domain of Clark's nutcracker.
Clark's nutcrackers perform an invaluable symbiotic service for the whitebark pine community.
Montana forester Lars Halstrom squints into the sun and eyes a pair of Clark's nutcrackers atop a whitebark pine tree high in the mountains of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.