Spotted nutcracker

Nucifraga caryocatactes subfamily

Corvinae taxonomy

Nucifraga caryocatactes Linnaeus 1758, Sweden. Eight subspecies.

other common names

English: Nutcracker, Eurasian nutcracker, spotted nutcracker; French: Cassenoix moucheté; German: Tannenhäher; Spanish: Cascanueces Moteado.

physical characteristics 12.48-13.26 in (32-34 cm); 4.34-7 oz (124-200 g). Body plumage is dark brown profusely spotted with white; lower belly and undertail-coverts are white. Wings are glossy black with white-tipped coverts. Tail is also glossy black with white feather tips, increasing in extent toward the outermost. Bill, legs, and feet are black.

distribution

Coniferous forests of Europe and Asia. North American equivalent is Clark's nutcracker.

habitat

Coniferous forests. Widely dispersed during irruptions following failure of seed harvest.

behavior

Wary, but perches on conspicuous treetops. Holds year-round territory, keeping several stores of nuts and seeds.

feeding ecology and diet

Heavily reliant on conifer seeds and hazel nuts, which are stored as winter supply. Insects and berries eaten seasonally.

reproductive biology

Solitary nester. Generally lays three to four eggs March through May in stick nest woven together with plant stems.

Cup lined with moss and grass. Incubation 16-18 days; fledging about 23 days. Young remain with parents for rest of summer.

conservation status

Not threatened. Abundant throughout its range. significance to humans

A significant planter of conifers thanks to its habit of storing pine seed underground. ♦

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