The Clark’s ‘crow‘, perched on the tall pine, perused the the forests of the sunlight mountains. Although crows can have an ominous air about them these birds have an endearing quality. There is a trickster quality to their gait and in the way the fly in small groups amongst the trees. They seem to be looking for ‘fun’, though no doubt they are in search of food.
Clark’s Nutcracker – Nucifraga columbiana
Although a member of the Corvid family Alexander Wilson, who originally named the bird, had it slightly wrong. It was John Audubon, familiar with it’s European cousin, who realised it was in fact a Nutcracker – Clark’s Nutcracker:
No sooner had I examined perfect specimens of this somewhat singularly coloured bird, than I felt assured, more especially from the form of its bill, that it is with us a representative of the Nutcracker of Europe; and I was much surprised, on comparing it with the figure given of it by ALEXANDER WILSON, to find the latter very defective, the bill being nearly half an inch shorter than in four specimens which I have inspected. All that is known of its habits is contained in the following notes from Mr. NUTTALL and Mr. TOWNSEND.
I saw my first Clark’s Nutcracker, high up on Mt. Hood in Oregon in late May 2005. It was one of those birds that I really want to see. A group of 9 flew out from the pines by the ski resort there and drifted slowly across the snow covered fields and disappeared into the vast forests below. A magic moment.
North America is graced with a range of charismatic crow species – the Scrub Jays, Stellar’s and Gray Jay and of course the Blue Jay. All ofthem have an element of the trickster about them. I have managed to see them all except for Pinyon Jay, which again eluded me whilst in Colorado. I did managed to see a few Scrub Jays and a couple of Stellar’s on this trip. But, although technically not a ‘jay’ a saw more Clark’s Nutcracker’s in Colorado. They always seem oblivious to my presence in their domain, intent on playing amongst the pine woods, I just an uninteresting and unusual feature in the landscape.