photo of Clark's nutcracker sitting on whitebark pine coneWriting for Audubon Magazine, Mara Grunbaum follows a snowshoeing scientist as she searches the Cascades for the Clark’s nutcracker. Due to a convergence of threats, stands of the birds’ favorite tree are becoming harder to find. The seeds of the critically endangered tree — the whitebark pine — is the birds’ preferred food, and the tree, in turn, is totally reliant on the bird to disperse its seeds. Grunbaum chronicles the dedication of the mountaineering scientist as she faces a series of disappointments in her search for the birds and explains how tracking the birds — if they can be found — can help focus conservation efforts to save the tree, which plays a key role in mountain ecosystems. Image: J Doll via Wikimedia Commons