Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation (WPEF)

We are a science-based non-profit dedicated to counteracting the decline of whitebark pine and enhancing knowledge about the value of its ecosystems.


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Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation
PO Box 17943
Missoula, Montana 59808

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Community Science- Help Locate Clark’s Nutcracker Nests

A Note from Clark’s nutcracker Research Scientist Dr. Taza Schaming:


I’m seeking help in locating Clark’s nutcracker nests for the Nutcracker Ecosystem Project. With our research, we are working to better understand the environmental drivers of Clark’s nutcracker occurrence and reproduction, habitat selection and movement patterns, in order to help improve local management strategies. I’ll include all data on nests, nutcracker breeding activity and juvenile observations in an upcoming nutcracker breeding biology paper that I’m working on.

Very few nutcracker nests have ever been documented, so any and all new nest information is wonderfully helpful. Nests are made of twigs/sticks and are ~8-12” wide, ~4-9” high, and 8-60’ off the ground, primarily in conifers. Nests can be found in live or dead trees, and dense or open stands of trees. Nest building tends to begin in early March (but may be earlier or later depending on the location and year) and is the most easily observable sign of nesting. Nestlings should all have fledged by mid-June at the latest.

The best way to find a nest is to watch nutcracker behavior, and if you see a nutcracker carrying twigs or insects around in the spring, there’s a good chance there’s a nest nearby. In fact, if anyone sees nutcrackers somewhere regularly in the spring, they’re likely nesting nearby most years. Nutcracker nests are really hard to find, but it just takes one person, carefully observing the birds in the right place at the right time, to find one.

If you spot Clark’s nutcrackers nesting, please send the GPS point and/or other location information, such as tree species and height of nest in the tree, as well as nest status if known (building, eggs, nestlings), date located, and any other details to [email protected]. (Please don’t get too close when the birds are building as we wouldn’t want to disturb them!)

I would also love to know if anyone is seeing juvenile nutcrackers. If you see one, it would be great to know the general location (or address or GPS point), date, number of adults and young, as well as any details on the birds’ behavior. (They are so much fun to watch. Enjoy!)

Identifying Juvenile vs Adult Clark’s nutcrackers

For more information, see www.thenutcrackerecosystemproject.com.