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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Caching in

I mentioned Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) a few days ago, but didn't show any pictures.  Here are a few images taken near Monitor Pass (along Route 89).



These interesting corvids (related to crows and jays) are pine specialists pine nuts are their preferred food.



This nutcracker was eventually successful:


Clark's Nutcracker's cache pine nuts for a year-round source of food.  Because of this, they affect the dispersal and distribution of pines, e.g., sometimes the pines grow in clusters as a result of a number of seeds (typically 1-30) stored at each cache site (most often underground).

When I read this, I wondered how many cached seeds are relocated and eaten and how many germinate and become new trees?  I suppose the nutcrackers "win" either way, although getting a new crop of seeds via the second route will take a lot longer!

P.S.  Facts above from the Birds of North America account (Tomback 1998).

1 comment:

Alice Chan said...

Clark's Nutcrackers! The bird I miss the most, from the days when I lived in the eastern high Sierra. Monitor Pass! My favorite way to get from there to visit my Sonoma County family when weather allowed. Miss them both a lot now.
Thank you for this post.