Crows (Corvidae)

Spotted Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes) - HBW 14, p. 611

French: Cassenoix moucheté German: Tannenhäher Spanish: Cascanueces Común
Other common names: Eurasian Nutcracker; Thick-billed/European Nutcracker (caryocatactes); Slender-billed Nutcracker (macrorhynchos)

Taxonomy: Corvus Caryocatactes Linnaeus, 1758, "Europa" = Sweden.
Usually treated as conspecific with N. multipunctata, but striking plumage differences and minor structural differences from latter, which seems to replace it abruptly in NW Himalayas beyond Pir Panjal Range; intermediate individuals extremely rare, suggesting that treatment as separate species is appropriate. Geographical variation rather complex, owing to extensive range and to isolation of several populations. Races fall into two groups, which have in the past been treated as separate species. S races, forming "hemispila group" (also with interdicta, macella and.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Corvus Caryocatactes Linnaeus, 1758, "Europa" = Sweden.
Usually treated as conspecific with N. multipunctata, but striking plumage differences and minor structural differences from latter, which seems to replace it abruptly in NW Himalayas beyond Pir Panjal Range; intermediate individuals extremely rare, suggesting that treatment as separate species is appropriate. Geographical variation rather complex, owing to extensive range and to isolation of several populations. Races fall into two groups, which have in the past been treated as separate species. S races, forming "hemispila group" (also with interdicta, macella and owstoni), very weakly spotted overall; isolated owstoni of Taiwan quite distinctive, but clearly resembles others of this group, and seems not to have evolved so far towards speciation as have many other Taiwan endemics. W & N races, "nominate group" (with remaining races), encompassing vast range from Norway and France E to Kamchatka and Anadyrland, more heavily marked. Nominate race intergrades with macrorhynchos in Urals, and hemispila intergrades with macella in Darjeeling area of N India. Proposed race yunnanensis (from Yunnan, in S China) considered better synonymized with macella. Within range of "nominate group" are several populations which have been separated racially on basis of minor differences and are best treated as synonyms: thus, in Europe, wolfi (from Balkans) and relicta (from Germany S to Serbia) are included in nominate and, in Asia, kamchatkensis (from Kamchatka), altaicus (from S Altai) and sassii (from L Baikal region) treated as synonyms of macrorhynchos. Eight subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • caryocatactes ( Linnaeus, 1758) - Europe (S Fennoscandia S to SE France, N Italy, Bulgaria and N Greece, E to Ural Mts).
  • macrorhynchos C. L. Brehm, 1823 - from Urals E in Siberia to Anadyrland, Kamchatka and Sakhalin I, S to N Mongolia, the Altai, Korea and NE China.
  • japonica E. J. O. Hartert, 1897 - S & C Kurils and N Japan (Hokkaido and Honshu).

     See all 8 subspecies
  • caryocatactes ( Linnaeus, 1758) - Europe (S Fennoscandia S to SE France, N Italy, Bulgaria and N Greece, E to Ural Mts).
  • macrorhynchos C. L. Brehm, 1823 - from Urals E in Siberia to Anadyrland, Kamchatka and Sakhalin I, S to N Mongolia, the Altai, Korea and NE China.
  • japonica E. J. O. Hartert, 1897 - S & C Kurils and N Japan (Hokkaido and Honshu).
  • rothschildi E. J. O. Hartert, 1903 - Tien Shan from SE Kazakhstan (Dzhungarskiy Alatau) S to C Kyrgystan (Talasskiy Alatau) and extreme NW China (W Xinjiang).
  • hemispila Vigors, 1831 - Himalayas from NE Pakistan (Murree) E, S of the Pir Panjal, to Nepal and N India (Darjeeling).
  • macella Thayer & Bangs, 1909 - E Himalayas from E Nepal and Sikkim E to NE India (Arunachal Pradesh), N Myanmar and S & C China (Qinling Mts of S Shaanxi and NW Hubei, S through Sichuan to SE Xizang and Yunnan).
  • interdicta O. Kleinschmidt & Weigold, 1922 - E China (SW Liaoning S to Shanxi, N Hebei and Henan).
  • owstoni Ingram, 1910 - Taiwan.