Are Nutcrackers the Real Hazel Hens?
Abstract from Ibis
7th September 1996
Not really! The Hazel Hen is a small game bird and very far removed from the Nutcracker - a specialist crow. However a paper in the most recent issue of Ibis (138, 384-390) by Antonio Rolando shows that, at certain times of the year, the Nutcrackers of an Italian Alpine Park go crackers on hazel nuts.
Normally Nutcrackers in that area are found on the Arolla Pines but in September and October they were absent. Radiotelemetry revealed that, at least in 1992 and 1993, they were concentrated on a few hazel hedges within the park. The results were interesting and showed that the breeding territories were totally abandoned in the autumn although a few untagged birds may have stored hazel nuts in their own territory.
The hazels preferred were the ones close to pine woods as many of the birds stored nuts for future use in the coniferous woodland. In October some birds had already reverted to pines, this time the Mountain Pine, and stopped using the hazels.