The Clark’s Nutcracker Suite
Image credit: Jen Hooke (modified with permission)
There’s nothing more festive during the winter holidays than the Clark’s nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana). This showy bird has taken center stage in conversations on the decline of whitebark pine trees and how it can help the tree’s recovery. As the primary seed disperser for whitebark pine, Clark’s nutcracker is key to restoration efforts, but the bird’s own adaptability when faced with losing its prized food source is also in question. Here is a suite of multimedia projects and other resources to learn more about this important bird.
Living Bird Article
The Autumn 2022 issue of Living Bird magazine features the story “Can the Clark’s Nutcracker Help Its BFF, the Whitebark Pine, Recover from Disaster?” Learn why the Clark’s nutcracker and whitebark pine make the perfect ecological pairing, with expert input from WPEF Board Members Diana Tomback and Bob Keane and some of our BFFs (Taza Schaming, Nancy Bockino and Chris Ray). The article also features a sneak peek of the new film “Hope and Restoration: Saving the Whitebark Pine“, with stunning imagery and stories of those working diligently behind the scenes to restore this extraordinary tree. It was produced by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Center for Conservation Media in partnership with the Ricketts Conservation Foundation.
Season Two of Glacier National Park’s “Headwaters” podcast focused on whitebark pine. Co-host Peri Sasnett recently was interviewed for a “BirdNote” podcast episode “The Birds and the Trees”. Listen in for an entertaining account of her birding origin story, the special relationship between Clark’s nutcracker and whitebark pine, and bird studies being conducted in the park with backpack trackers. The “BirdNote” team also produced this related TikTok video that features Lisa Bate, Glacier National Park wildlife biologist and WPEF member. Other recent interviews with Peri include episodes on the American Birding Podcast and Nature Guys.
Christmas Bird Count
The Audubon’s 123rd annual Christmas Bird Count runs from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5. This community-science project collects valuable data used to monitor conservation statuses of birds across North America. Learn how to participate in a count circle near you. Some organizations with Clark’s nutcracker observed in their counts include Five Valleys Audubon Society, Flathead Audubon Society and Rocky Mountain Naturalists.
WPEF Webinar Recordings
As part of the WPEF’s “High-Elevation, Five-Needle White Pines: Science and Management Webinar Series“, we’ve had several guest presenters discuss their fascinating research projects on Clark’s nutcracker. All webinar recordings are available on our YouTube channel.
- Clark’s Nutcracker Seed Harvesting Habitat Use in Yellowstone National Park (Thomas McLaren, Klamath Bird Observatory and formerly CU Denver)
- Will the Mutualism Fail? Modeling Nutcracker Response to Whitebark Decline (Chris Ray, The Institute for Bird Populations)
- Clark’s Nutcracker Resource Use in the Greater Yellowstone and North Cascades Ecosystems (Taza Schaming, Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative )
Nutcracker Notes Journal
Clark’s nutcracker is also the namesake for our biannual journal Nutcracker Notes. Past issues are available to the public and feature articles on Clark’s nutcracker habitat, seed use and tracking studies. Check out the index of articles to locate articles of interest. The next issue is set to be published in January with the most recent issues only available to current WPEF members. Join or renew to receive a digital copy in your inbox.