The throat of the Clark's nutcracker can temporarily store up to 150 small seeds thanks to an expandable pouch.

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Expand and collapse: Many of life’s containers are flexible, like the throat pouch of the Clark’s nutcracker that expands to hold 150 pine-nut-sized seeds, or the pelican pouch that scoops 3 gallons of seawater, then returns to shape. What if we could design a juice bottle that would fill up like a sturdy balloon, then collapse to a small disk when its liquid is gone? You could store it in your pocket as a go-cup, or send hundreds back to the manufacturer in a single envelope.

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“Technically a diverticulum, or sacklike extension, of the floor of the mouth, the sublingual (‘under the tongue’) pouch is carry-on luggage for birds traveling with pine nuts. Each nut to be pouched is brought into the oral cavity, and dropped into the pouch through an opening at the base of the tongue. The pouch wall is thin, wrinkled, and elastic, and stretches as seeds are added, swelling almost to the size of a walnut when fully packed (Figure 5.3). The capacity of a pouch stuffed with twenty-eight singleleaf pinyon nuts is about 28.5 milliliters, sufficiently capacious for ninety seeds of Colorado pinyon. A Clark’s Nutcracker sacrificed for science a century ago in Montana had eight-two whitebark pine seeds in its pouch.” (Lanner 2006: 42-43)

Made for Each Other: A Symbiosis of Birds and PinesAugust 29, 1996
Ronald M. Lanner

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Meat BirdNucifraga columbianaSpecies

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