by Dan Robinson
Boise City was host to a rare and unusual visitor this past week that drew careful observation from several interested parties. A Clark’s Nutcracker was spotted in Boise City on February 28, 2008, on the west side of town. Discovered by and named for William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, the bird is normally found at extremely high elevations (near the timberline) of the Rocky Mountains from northern New Mexico to Canada. Although common in its native range, to see one on the eastern slope is quite unusual. The last documented sighting in Oklahoma was 35 years ago.
The sighting was reported to ornithologist John Shackford of Edmond, who in turn reported the finding to the Oklahoma Bird Records Committee. The OBRC is the official body which weighs the accuracy of reported sightings and documents the sightings into the annals of history. On March 1, 2008, noted bird and wildlife photographer Steve Metz traveled to Boise City in hopes of capturing the image of the nutcracker. Metz has done extensive work in North, Central, and South America, Europe and Asia. On March 2, 2008, after an hour search, the bird was located and successfully photographed.
The prevailing thought on why this Clark’s Nutcracker was here is twofold: unusually heavy snowfall in its native range has pushed it eastward, and a plentiful crop of its primary food source, pine cone seed. The Clark’s Nutcracker is a member of the crow and jay family (corvidae) and can be viewed easily online at.