Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Lynn Chamberlain
Photo Copyright Lynn Chamberlain

Clark's nutcracker, Nucifraga columbiana, occurs in western North America (southwestern Canada and the western United States) and is nonmigratory. This large jay is found in mountainous areas throughout Utah, descending to lower elevations in winter. Its breeding habitat is montane coniferous forests, but in winter it may utilize pinyon-juniper woodlands. The main food of this species is conifer seeds, especially pine nuts, but it also consumes arthropods, small vertebrates, bird eggs, and carrion.

The nest is constructed in a conifer, six to eighty feet above the ground. Usually two or three eggs (rarely as many as six) are incubated by both parents for sixteen to eighteen days. The nestlings are tended by both parents and leave the nest about twenty to twenty-two days after hatching.

This species was first collected by the Lewis and Clark expedition, and its common name honors Captain William Clark.


  • Tomback, D. F. 1998. Clark’s nutcracker. Birds of North America 331: 1–23.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American birds. 2nd ed. Academic, San Diego. 347 pp.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.