2012-10-28

Our Dying Forests: Dark days for whitebarks — and for birds, bears and fish

Gray birds with black-and-white wings slash through the forest canopy, squawking and shoving one another from treetop pine cones.

It’s a good cone crop this year in southwestern Canada, and the Clark’s nutcrackers are staging the kind of full-throated show that is rapidly fading from most of the West’s high country.

They’re heckling and buzzing, their gullets bulging like those of fish-hoarding pelicans. They’re hauling pine seeds that they’ll bury here and there for later. Cunning as they are, these cousins to crows and ravens will forget where they put some, and the whitebark pine’s plan for seed dispersal will be complete.