Kedrovka photo and description, types and where it lives, what it looks like

Nutcracker, spotted nutcracker or walnut (lat. Nucifraga caryocatactes) is a passerine bird, slightly larger than the Eurasian jay. She has a much larger beak and a thinner head without a crest. Body plumage predominantly chocolate brown with distinct white spots and stripes. The wings and upper part of the tail are almost black with a greenish-blue sheen. This is one of the three types of nutcracker. The Kashmiri Nutcracker was formerly considered a subspecies of the Spotted Nutcracker. Another representative of the genus, Clark’s nutcracker, lives in the west of North America.

Why was the bird named Kedrovka

The spotted nutcracker is closely related to mountain coniferous forests. Its name comes from the highly specialized beak that allows the bird to crack nuts. The international name of the bird “Nucifraga caryocatacte” is translated as “nutcracker” and fully characterizes its way of obtaining food.

Description and appearance

The adult of the nominate race (here described and shown) has dark brown plumage with strong stripes and patches of white over most of the body. Crown and nape much darker brown. The sides of the head are more densely covered with white stripes, the cheeks are almost white. Eyes dark brown. Black legs and feet.

On the shoulder blades, chest and flanks, where they form merging lines, the white patches are larger and more scattered. The rump and upper tail coverts are dark brown, while the underbelly and undertail coverts are white.

The feathers on the upper wing are glossy black. There is a small white spot on the tips of the feathers. The tail is also glossy black, with white tips of straight feathers. These white tips are narrow on the central tail wings and become broader towards the tail feathers. This pattern appears almost white when viewed from below.

The beak is black, strong and rather long, straight and pointed. The inner side of the lower jaw shows a peculiar morphological criterion, with a ridge on the inner side of this jaw. This feature allows the bird to chew on hard seeds.

Juveniles are similar to adults, but have duller wings and tail, and the median coverts have a broad white edge. Stripes and spots brownish-white.

There are 8 subspecies divided into two groups. The first group, which includes races from the western and northern ranges, is strongly spotted and differs from each other in the shape of the beak. Races from the southern range have a slightly longer tail and lack the white tips of the central pair of restricts. They have much more brown plumage with less extensive white patches.


8 subspecies were identified:

  • European walnut (lat. Caryocatactes caryocatactes) Europe;
  • Siberian walnut (lat. Caryocatactes macrorhynchos) Ural to eastern Siberia and northeastern China;
  • Turkestan walnut (lat. Caryocatactes rothschildi) from Kazakhstan to northwestern China;
  • Japanese nutcracker (lat. Caryocatactes japonica) Kuril Islands and northern Japan;
  • Taiwanese nutcracker (lat. Caryocatactes owstoni) Taiwan;
  • Brown walnut (lat. Caryocatactes hemispila) northwestern and central Himalayas;
  • Chinese nutcracker (lat. Caryocatactes macella) China;
  • Spotted Nutcracker (lat. Caryocatactes multipunctata) Western Himalayas.
  • The taxonomy of the species is controversial, some authors consider the spotted nutcracker to be a separate species, and some as the brown nutcracker (including subspecies from the Himalayas, China and Taiwan hemispila, macella and owstoni).

    How many live

    There is very little information on the life expectancy of representatives of the nutcracker genus. Among the nutcrackers there is information that Clark’s nutcracker lives up to 17 years. In natural habitat, the bird lives for more than 10 years. At the same time, the nutcracker is not kept as a pet.

    Lifestyle and character

    Usually a solitary bird, the non-migratory Nutcracker is territorial and will defend its food supply all year round. In autumn, the pair gather enough food to last through the winter; they carry cargo to their hiding place and bury seeds, nuts, and other edible foods. Months later, caches can be covered with several meters of snow, making them unrecognizable. Nutcracker is forced to tunnel deep into the snow to find stored food, with a success rate of over 75%.

    The bird leads a sedentary lifestyle. With a shortage of coniferous seeds, Nutcrackers migrate west in search of food. Outside of the breeding season, these birds form flocks. Most often they can be seen in autumn in places of accumulation of hazel. The nutcracker has a hard, creaky voice. He can also sing in a low chirp.

    Orekhovka is under the threat of extinction mainly due to natural factors. For example, they are very vulnerable to snowy winters and nest destruction. However, the hunting of these birds and the loss of habitat due to tourism can also have a significant impact on the nutcracker population.

    Where do they live

    Nuts are found in many parts of the world. We can highlight here, among others, their distribution in most of Europe. The nutcracker can be found in the northeast region, in places like the Scandinavian Peninsula, as well as in countries like Italy or Greece, and it can also be seen in Asia. in Eurasia, it is found in the central regions and in Siberia.

    Nut is found in dense and extensive forests. She arranges her nests in spruce forests, spruce forests, usually in the fork of a branch. The nest is always camouflaged, invisible to humans. The nest has a characteristic structure, it is quite high and thick. The goal is protection from frost and bad weather. This is important, in particular, because in winter, nutcrackers often breed chicks. Walnut is widespread, especially in mountain and subalpine coniferous forests. She prefers pine forests, and in winter she can sometimes be found in deciduous. It nests on the upper border of tree-like vegetation, on steep slopes dotted with individual trees. The maximum percentage of nesting occurs at an altitude of about 1,700 meters above sea level.

    What do they eat

    Feeding mainly on seeds and nuts, the nutcracker gets its name from its unusual ability to break open hard shells. Seeds are picked out from the cones and split with the help of an unusual interlocking protrusion, which is located in the beak of the nutcracker; small nuts are cracked in the same way, but larger nuts are usually held in their claws or clamped in a stone or crevice and cracked.

    Stored seeds and nuts will help the nutcracker survive the winter, and in summer and autumn, it supplements its diet with berries and insects.

    Interesting fact! The spotted nutcrackers that invaded Britain in the 1960s ate everything from cakes to live rodents. This behavior of birds was caused by severe hunger.

    This bird carefully camouflages where seeds are stored by covering them with bark, lichen, moss, or other natural camouflage. Stocks of buried seeds in the storerooms of the nutcracker are one of the most important means of spreading the coniferous forests of Eurasia.


    Despite their solitary lifestyle, aggregations of up to 200 nutcrackers have been recorded early in the breeding season, although they usually consist of 10 birds. Territorial pairs usually allow such gatherings on their territory, although other birds are not allowed to feed.

    Spotted Nutcrackers mate for life and take about 12 days each season to build a nest of twigs, lichen and thorns. The female lays up a masonry of 2-5 eggs, light blue with light brown specks. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 16-18 days; nutcracker is the only member of the corvidae family that shares this responsibility. The chicks are fed by their parents and leave the nest 23 days after hatching. They remain in the family group for three months after hatching.

    The family breaks up in early July. Juveniles create their own territory and engage in foraging activities, storing nuts to help them overwinter.

    natural enemies in nature

    Despite the fact that this bird is small in size, it is very slow during takeoff. At this time, the walnut becomes vulnerable to predators. Most often, the nutcracker suffers from attacks while digging up reserves. The bird becomes less cautious and loses its vigilance, which can be used and get close to the prey by the fox, wolf and smaller predators: marten, sable, weasel. She is also in danger when she hides supplies. If the bird noticed that it is being watched at this time, it tries to disguise its prey.

    The lynx is a danger in the trees, and some birds can damage nests by destroying young or attacking chicks. Birds of prey also prey on nutcrackers: hawks, owls, peregrine falcons and kites.

    The hawk is the enemy of the nutcracker

    One of the enemies of the nutcracker is a man. There is no special hunting for it, although nutcracker meat is edible, but it has a specific, bitter taste. The greatest damage is caused by human activities during deforestation. The most terrible problem is forest fires, which flare up every year due to human fault. Every year in Western Siberia, the Irkutsk region, Buryatia and throughout Transbaikalia, many hectares of forest burn. Large tracts of cedar forests are burning, which are the main breeding and feeding grounds for the stone beetle. Fires destroy nests with young and chicks. Adult birds are deprived of food and supplies, dooming themselves to a hungry winter, which not every bird can survive in such conditions.

    Interesting Facts

    Interesting facts about the life of the nutcracker (nutcracker):

  • Seeds hidden by nutcrackers sometimes sprout into seedlings that grow into trees. The habit of pagus to hide food caused the growth of new trees of the Swiss pine in those areas of the European Alps, where people cut down all trees;
  • Kedrovka creates up to 6,000 caches a year that can feed the animals from late summer until next summer. Of these, about 80% are found again, even under a blanket of snow. Incredible achievement;
  • In winter, to get to the cache, she sometimes has to dig through a snow cover more than one meter thick;
  • Despite a high nut return rate of over 80 percent, many seeds are not returned. Therefore, the nutcracker plays an important role in the rejuvenation of mountain forests;
  • If predators ruin the masonry masonry, it can rebuild a nest and relay the eggs again;
  • The maximum registered age in Europe is 19 years and 11 months;
  • These birds prefer to relax on the branches, from which a good review opens up to identify the danger in time;
  • Kedrovka makes a large supply of seeds (20-50 thousand “pantries” containing a total of 60-90 kg of nuts), which allows them to eat before the beginning of summer;
  • A bird can carry up to 100 cedar nuts at a time, filling them with a spacious hyoid bag. There is a known case of capture of the cedar with 165 nuts in the subpusable bag;
  • These birds gather in flocks when they migrate in search of food;
  • Their love for nuts is so strong that there are cases when stone cedares drove the protein from the cedar with a large number of cones full of nuts;
  • The Japanese nicknamed the cedar “starry crown” for its coloring;
  • Orekhovka collects seeds only on its territory, which has clearly defined boundaries. The bird burrows food into the ground, carefully disguising the pantry, and flies off in search of seeds for the next hiding place;
  • The nutcracker hides nuts in small portions of 10-20 pieces, burying them in the ground or moss, tucking them behind loose bark, under deadwood or rotting stumps. In total, it turns out it’s hard to believe up to 6 thousand pantries;
  • When caterpillars of any species of butterflies infect forest trees, nutcrackers usually appear in large numbers and collect pests not only from trees, but even dig them with their beaks from the ground where the caterpillars pupate;
  • In winter, birds feed on hidden nuts, making deep burrows under the snow, sometimes up to 60 cm deep;
  • In the Moscow region, the well-being of the species in winter largely depends on the stocks of hazelnuts made in the fall;
  • The Siberian Nutcracker is land-bound and rarely crosses water barriers more than 3 km wide, even without a load of nuts. He comes to the islands with typhoons, storms, etc.d., where it stays. On the island of Simushir, the Siberian nutcracker feeds on the seeds of cedar trees.
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