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Clark’s Nutcrackers

As the name of this species intimates, it was discovered on the Lewis and Clark expedition across the North American continent in the early 1800’s.  These guys live at high elevations, 3,000′ to 13,000′ in the Rockies mainly, and in the higher Cascades.  This is a member of the Corvidae family, related to Jays and Crows, though it acts very much like a woodpecker.  Very smart and with lovely singing voices.  They cache food for the winter and are quite capable of digging through 8 feet of snow to find a supply of their favorite pine nuts.  These birds have an amazing memory for where they put their cache, remembering a thousand locations.  If only I could remember card combinations even half as well!

They are a pretty soft gray bird with striking black and white patterns in their tails and wings.

This guy was keeping an eye on the tree where the suet is located.  They love to pick the highest point on a tree for the best vantage point.

A better view of their heavy bill, the better to tear up rotting downed logs.

Prior to moving here the only place we saw these birds was in National parks, either in Canada, Montana or Oregon.  We saw them a few times on our property next to Glacier National Park, and they did demolish a whole downed tree in an amazingly short amount of time, banging on it with their beaks and eating the bugs while reducing the tree to toothpicks.  Industrious.

I was standing under this one, next to the suet tree. Shows off their white bird butt.

Dan keeps the official bird list for this county, and the state list keepers just sent a list of all the birds in county to see if Dan agrees with how common or uncommon various birds are.  They think these are Uncommon, but in reality in this area they are Common.  Just look around and listen.  Do you hear something loud and raucous?  It’s most likely one of these.

Speaking of loud and raucous:

Here she is looking perky and not yelling for once, since she was sitting on my knee getting pets.

The sun was shinking on her gleaming feathers and she was pretending she didn't know what that gold ball of light was.

Dan was bringing me a cup of tea, she was watching to see if it was for her. She's always sure it is for her.

Dan tells her she’s a nutcracker wanna-be as sometimes she makes noises very similiar to them.

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