Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Portrait of a Nutcracker

The Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) has an exceptional spatial memory, being capable of hiding and refinding thousands of seeds and nuts. Another interesting fact about this species is that both sexes incubate the eggs and the male develops a brood patch (unusual in the Corvidae - crow family). There are only three species in the genus:
  Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) of western North America
  Spotted Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes) of Eurasia
  Large-spotted Nutcracker (Nucifraga multipunctata) of Kashmir

and their closest relatives are the ground-jays (Podoces) of Asia and the choughs (Pyrrhocorax) of Eurasia. In all three of thee genera the bill is rather long and slightly decurved.

On a recent brief visit to Banff National Park, Alberta Canada, I took a few minutes to get to know this magnificent denizen of montane coniferous forests a little better. The first photo shows a nutcracker in their habitat

And the second photo gives a closer look but still offers a typical view of one perched near the trunk of a conifer.

I finish with two portraits. First a vertical composition, showing the underparts and the undertail, and  which I think captures some of the bird's personality:

 And finally an upper body portrait  to show off their simple elegance and beauty:


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