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Photo: NPS

Calling all birders & wildlife enthusiasts: we need your help!

Dr. Taza Schaming is seeking help in locating Clark’s Nutcracker nests for The Nutcracker Ecosystem Project and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Clark’s Nutcracker/Whitebark Pine Ecosystem initiative.

Call for Clark’s Nutcracker Nest Sightings

Nest sightings will assist studies of the role of Clark’s Nutcrackers in conifer ecosystems, the effects of climate change on the birds and coniferous forests, and educational efforts to elevate awareness.

Very few nutcracker nests have been documented beyond work by Schaming, Dr. Teresa Lorenz, and a few much older studies, 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.

A bird nest sits in a pine tree with light blue eggs

A Clark’s nutcracker nest.

Photo: Dr. Taza Schaming

How To Get Involved

If you spot Clark’s Nutcrackers nesting, please send GPS point and/or other location information, such as tree species and height of nest in the tree, as well as nest status (building, eggs, nestlings), date located, and any other details to tazaschaming@gmail.com.

For more information, please visit The Nutcracker Ecosystem Project website.

A Clark's Nutcracker sits in its bird nest along with chicks

Photo: Dr. Taza Schaming

Restoring Clark’s Nutcracker, Whitebark & Limber Pine In Glacier

One of Glacier’s most important ecosystems involves a complex and mutualistic relationship between Clark’s Nutcrackers, whitebark pine, and limber pine trees – and it’s in danger of collapse.

Clark’s Nutcrackers are instrumental in the germination of whitebark pine and limber pine seeds. Reliant upon the trees for food, Clark’s Nutcrackers eat the seeds from the pines and then cache additional stashes of seeds for later. Forgotten seeds grow into new trees and contribute to the health of the greater ecosystem. High in fat and protein, the seeds from these trees are also critical to the diets of many different animal species.

Both whitebark pine and limber pine trees are in danger of extinction due to an infestation of blister rust, fire exclusion, and mountain pine beetles. Your donations to the Glacier Conservancy are supporting the continuation of a graduate study examining the relationship between these species and how to restore their populations to ensure ecosystem recovery.

This project and many other critical projects would not be possible without your donations to the Glacier Conservancy. Learn more about how your support is making other scientific research projects possible in Glacier National Park.