(Nucifraga caryocatactes)



The nutcracker is one of the most striking representatives of the Corvidae family of birds. It lives primarily in spruce or Swiss pine forests. Its dispersal area spans from the north-east of Russia to South Scandinavia and the entire Alpine region all the way into the Caucasus. In the Alps, the nutcracker populates coniferous forests from around 700 m above sea level all the way up to the tree line.



The most notable characteristics of the nutcracker include its dark brown, white speckled plumage and its strong beak. Nutcrackers are very philopatric birds who keep their territory their whole life long – in freedom up to a maximum of 15 years. The young birds settle in the wider vicinity of their place of birth.


Special features

The nutcracker stores provisions for wintering. It distributes its hiding places across an area up to 6.5 ha large. Per hiding place, it deposits the contents of its pouch (about 50 cembra nuts) in up to 2 cm deep holes in the ground. In total, up to 3,000 hiding places per hectare. About one fourth of the provisions remain unused and thus contribute significantly to the dispersal area of the Swiss pine. In spruce forests, its provisions consist mainly of hazelnuts, but it also takes acorns, beechnuts, sweet chestnuts or or.



In Austria, the nutcracker population is currently not endangered. Protection efforts aim especially at the ecologically and economically important role of the nutcracker.



Mattes, Hermann (1982): Die Lebensgemeinschaft von Tannehäher und Arve. Eidgenössische Anstalt für das forstliche Versuchswesen, Birmensdorf. Berichte, Nr. 241, 74 p.

[Translate to en:] Tannenhäher (Nucifraga caryocatactes) - Naturpark Ötztal