Artists and Strange Birds
by A. Noni Muss
"Are You Nuts?"
The Double-breasted Nutcracker
Like the legendary, hairy Sasquatch of the American Northwest and the ice-covered Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, the Double-breasted Nutcracker has only been seen in the reflected light of a flickering campfire or in a blinding snowstorm by birders high on the exaltation of seeing a Spotted Owl earlier in the day. And like its second cousin, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, attempts to film it have been futile (and we can thank our lucky stars we haven't had to tromp through swamps to locate it.)
This native Utah nutcracker is a wiry bird with a punk red topnotch and tail, large feet and knobby knees and it enjoys munching occasionally on a toothpick for maximum visual effect. Birds fear it, people seek it and tree nuts shudder in its presence. Its call can sound like CRAAAA-AAA-heeACK, or CRAAA-hee-ACK-hee! Attempts to imitate the call in the wild have been met with ridicule and laughter by other birders as well as by the bird itself (hence the "hee" inserted somewhere in the rendition).
Is there really a Double-breasted Nutcracker and can you find this strange bird? No one in their right mind ever thought there was really an animal called a Snipe because of the stories about "Snipe Hunting" but, low and behold, the Snipe exists - and it's a BIRD! If there is any chance of locating this nutcracker, it can only be in the company of birdwatchers belonging to an official birding association or club. They have the right binoculars, Bermuda shorts, hiking boots and mismatched socks, funny hats, cameras, monster scopes and fun personalities. Join them on monthly field trips for a chance to see this bird, a Snipe, or some other bird with a strange-sounding name. Red Cliffs Audubon offers such field trips and they are a hoot! Check out our Field Trips and Meeting page and meet us with binoculars in hand for our next scheduled trip.
The webmaster appreciates the opportunity to include this bird article and drawing amongst the great articles written by Marilyn and Keith Davis.