Bird of the Week

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Photo courtesy Ben Bailey

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the Clark’s nutcracker.
This noisy bird can be found at high elevations in coniferous forests all year-round. It can be identified by its gray, 11-inch body with black on the top of its tail and black wings with white outer feathers. Their food consists mostly of seeds, but they will feed on insects and small birds in the summer. Their long, sharp bills enable them to pull seeds out of cones which they then crack.
In the summer, they are very busy storing seeds in caches for the long winter. One bird has been known to store over 33,000 seeds. There is a pouch under its tongue where each bird can carry as many as 90 seeds at a time. The amazing fact is that these birds are able to find most of the seeds that they bury.
No other species of bird is known to have such an incredible memory. Several scientists are studying the Clark’s nutcracker in order to further understand spatial memory. This bird plays an important part in our mountain forest rejuvenation as the seeds that the Clark’s nutcracker does not eat can germinate and become the next generation of trees.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.