© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, Mervi Wahlroos, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Nucifraga caryocatactes

  • Name also: Spotted Nutcracker, Eurasian Nutcracker
  • Family: Crows – Corvidae
  • Appearance: Jay-sized member of the crow family. Plumage mainly dark brown with white spots. Prominent white vent and tail tip. Beak long and narrow.
  • Size: Length 32–35 cm, wingspan 49–53 cm, weight 135–190 g.
  • Nest: Usually in a small spruce, made of twigs, decaying wood, juniper bark and lichen, lined with dry grass.
  • Breeding: 3–5 eggs laid March–April, incubated by both parents for 18–19 days. Fledglings remain in nest for 24–26 days, and then stay close to parents for up to four months.
  • Distribution: The nominate species (Nucifraga caryocatactes caryocatactes) breeds in SW Finland in spruce forests with hazel and oak trees. Siberian race (N. c. macrorhynchos) breeds in several regions including Häme and Vaasa. Finnish breeding population estimated at 2,000–4,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Sedentary, but young birds may range over longer distances. Siberian race may occur outside habitual breeding areas between August and October.
  • Diet: Nuts, seeds (Siberian race specialises in seeds of sembra pines), also sometimes invertebrates.
  • Calls: Low series of hoarse calls “krayh-krayh-krayh”. Song a quiet chatter.

Nutcrackers are Jay-sized members of the crow family. Their plumage is mainly brown with white spots. Their white vents and tail tips are particularly prominent in flight. Their caps are a more even, darker brown and they have blackish wings. It can be hard to distinguish birds of the nominate race from the Siberia race; though the Siberian birds have slightly longer and narrower beaks, and a broader white band on their tail tip. Nutcrackers’ legs and beaks are black, and they have brown irises.

Other species from the same family

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