Laguna Recreation Area February 16, 2014.
The Clark’s Nutcracker is one of the most frustratingly difficult birds to find in San Diego County. It is relatively common in the nearby San Jacinto wilderness – just a tramway ride above Palm Springs – but here in San Diego County the recent sightings are very few and far between because, as the experts say, the bird prefers higher altitudes than we offer.
A relative of crows and jays, the Clark’s Nutcracker specializes in pine nuts and bugs that it pulls from under the bark of trees. It is large and conspicuous. They are known to raid campsites or hang around campgrounds for handouts.
Dan King located three of these mythical birds while out looking for Cassin’s Finches in the Laguna Recreation Area just off of Sunrise Highway. Why are they here? It is plausible that the ongoing drought has driven them from higher elevations looking for food.
A steady stream of birders and photographers have made the 20-minute hike off the road to see these fantastic creatures in the last two days.
What a treat!
Clark’s Nutcracker was named for William Clark of Lewis & Clark fame. Lewis had an oddly colored woodpecker named after him – Lewis’ Woodpecker.