Nutcracker, a conirostral bird of the crow family, and genus nucifraga (Briss.). The bill is longer than the head, strong, with cul-men elevated and sloping to the entire tip; the lateral margins straight; gonys very long and ascending; the nostrils basal, covered by frontal bristles; wings long and rounded, with the fourth and fifth quills longest; tail moderate, rounded on the sides; tarsi longer than middle toe, covered in front with broad scales; toes long, robust, and strongly scutel-lated; claws long, sharp, and curved. The common nutcracker (N curyomtactes, Briss.), the best known species, is about 13 in. long, and the bill 1¾; it is about the size and shape of the European jay; the bill and feet are brownish black; the general color dull reddish brown, blackish brown above; the whole plumage, except the top of the head and the upper tail coverts, is marked with oblong white dashes margined with dark brown at the end, largest on the lower parts; lower tail coverts and tips of tail feathers white.
This bird, rare in Great Britain, is common in the woods of the mountainous parts of Europe and Asia, especially in Switzerland, and in Russia; they are usually seen in pairs, but sometimes in flocks, migrating according to the season in search of larvae and insects, which they obtain from trees in the manner of woodpeckers; they are also fond of the seed of fir trees, and of nuts, which they break by repeated strokes of the bill; they are said to devour small birds and eggs. The nest is made in a hole in a decayed tree; the eggs, five or six, are yellowish gray with a few spots of light brown. This bold and familiar bird by its nearly straight bill seems to form a transition from the crows to the starlings, and in some respects to the woodpeckers, the last of which it also resembles in some of its habits.
Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactcs).