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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Clark's Nutcracker -- Nucifraga columbiana

RANGE: Resident from central British Columbia and southwestern Alberta to western and southeastern Wyoming, south through the mountains of Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada to Baja California, and in the Rockies to east-central Arizona and southern New Mexico. Occasionally wanders during nonbreeding season to lower mountains and lowlands beyond breeding range.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Prefers high-altitude rocky sites with open or broken coniferous forest and clearings, but occurs in the mountains from 3,000 to 13,000 feet. Inhabits a variety of coniferous forest types including ponderosa pine, pinyon-juniper, and spruce-fir.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Seeds of pines for food.

NEST: Nests mostly between 6,000 and 8,000 feet in elevation in a wind-sheltered site. Builds nest in a conifer, well out on a branch or in a bushy top from 7 to 150 feet above the ground.

FOOD: Forages on the ground and in trees, primarily on the seeds of conifers and on insects. Also eats seeds of lupine, oats, grains, berries, small mammals, eggs and nestlings of birds, and carrion.

REFERENCES: Bevier in Farrand 1983b, Cottam 1945, Goodwin 1976, Mewaldt 1956, Terres 1980, Verner and Boss 1980, Wilmoer 1977.

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