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Spotted nutcracker

Nucifraga caryocatactes

Photo by Fabrizio Moglia (Flickr)

Common name:
spotted nutcracker (en); quebra-nozes (pt); cassenoix moucheté (fr); cascanueces común (es); tannenhäher (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Corvidae

This species is found from eastern France and northern Italy east to northern Greece and north to southern Sweden and Finland, and throughout most of Russia into Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, northern Mongolia, north-eastern China, Korea and Japan. Is is also present in central and southern China and along the Himalayas into Nepal, extreme northern India, northern Pakistan and Afghanistan.

These birds are 29-36 cm long and have a wingspan of 49-55 cm. They weigh 125-200 g.

The spotted nutcracker is mostly found in boreal coniferous forests, but also use temperate and tropical forests as well as urban parks.

They feed on various seeds and nut, particularly of pines and spruces, but also hazelnuts and walnuts. They also take some insects and berries.

Spotted nutcrackers breed in March-June. They are believed to be monogamous and pairs bonds last several years. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a platform made of small twigs with an inner bowl made of decaying wood, juniper bark and lichen, lined with dry grass. It is usually placed high up in a conifer, up to 25 m above the ground. The female lays 2-5 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 18-22 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 21-26 days after hatching, but remain with the parents for another 4 months. They reach sexual maturity at 1-2 years of age.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 2,5-10,3 million individuals. The population is suspected to be in decline in parts of its Asian range as a result of forest destruction, namely in Taiwan. However, in Europe available data indicates a stable trend over the last 3 decades.

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