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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 ?
At UCLA, I looked into the literature and discovered that little was known about the Clark's nutcracker.
Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) was first reported from the area by Leopold (1947); a decade later Miller et at (1957) reported a second sighting of this corvid.
Clark's nutcrackers even take--or sometimes beg for--handouts from campers.
In particular, the whitebark pine has evolved a mutualistic relationship with a remarkable bird called the Clark's nutcracker (Nucifraga colum-biana).
When Balda gave individual Clark's nutcrackers a second chance to cache seeds in the same sandy aviary floor, the birds often choose different hiding places.
Therefore, another technique researchers are testing in the Grouse Mountain experiment is logging small patches of forest to create the kind of clearings where the Clark's nutcrackers like to cache their seeds.
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.
After learning that they can recover edible seeds at the halfway point between two landmarks that vary in the distance that separates them, Clark's nutcrackers consistently seek out that midpoint in new situations.
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.