Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Least Concern

Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana)


French: Cassenoix d’Amérique German: Kiefernhäher Spanish: Cascanueces americano

Corvus columbiana

A. Wilson

, 1811,

two miles [3.2 km] north of Kamiah, on Clearwater River, Idaho, USA


Probably derived from a Siberian form of N. caryocatactes which crossed the Bering land-bridge, perhaps as recently as 2–1.5 million years ago. Monotypic.


Rocky Mts, Cascade Mts and isolated ranges of W North America from SW Canada (E slopes of interior British Columbia, S & E through mountains of SW Alberta), S in USA to C & E Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, W & NE Oregon (likely across the state), N & EC California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado to S California, Arizona and New Mexico; also, in N Mexico, irregularly occurring population in Sierra San Pedro Mártir (N Baja California) and isolated population at Cerro Potosí (Nuevo León).

Descriptive notes

27–30 cm; 106–161 g. A medium-sized corvid with long wings, conspicuous white in wings and tail, and long and sharply pointed bill. Head, neck and most of body... read more


Repertoire of 13 calls in three major groups, with considerable variation within and among... read more


Mountain coniferous forests, typically including trees that produce large, wingless seeds, e.g.... read more

Food and feeding

Specialist on conifer seeds, especially large, wingless seeds of pinyon, limber, and whitebark pines, and smaller seeds of ponderosa pine... read more


Few nests observed, as this species often nests in remote settings during severe winter conditions. Nest-building typically begins (at 975... read more


Resident. Some wandering to lower elevations in winter, and periodically when cone crops fail;... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common. Irruptive movements and population responses to varying cone crops make accurate estimation of trends difficult. Wide... read more

Recommended citation

Marzluff, J. (2020). Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).