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Fauna Series No. 3







Faunal Position

Life Zones







Fauna of the National Parks — No. 3
Birds and Mammals of Mount McKinley National Park
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Bombycilla garrula pallidiceps [REICHENOW]

GENERAL APPEARANCE.—A plump, neat appearing, brownish-gray bird similar in general appearance but larger than the well-known cedar wax-wing. This bird has a decided crest; a black stripe through the eye, and white spots forming a white bar on the wing. The tail is short and tipped with a broad yellow band. Length, 8 inches.

IDENTIFICATION.—This species may be distinguished from the cedar waxwing by its greater size and the chestnut-colored area on the forehead and at the under base of the tail. Too, the abdomen is grayish instead of yellow. Both species of waxwings usually, but not always, have red wax-like tips on the shorter wing feathers.

DISTRIBUTION.—The Bohemian waxwing breeds from western Alaska, Mackenzie, and Manitoba south to southern British Columbia and southern Alberta. It is found in the spruce woods in Mount McKinley National Park.

HABITS.—The earliest spring arrival of this species was noted by me on May 24, 1932, at the boundary cabin on Savage River where a mated pair of Bohemian waxwings was found in a sheltered grove of spruce trees. From the actions of these birds it seemed likely that they would nest in the near vicinity.

On June 19, 1932, I found a pair of Bohemian waxwings gathering nest material in a small clump of spruce trees on the Nenana River near McKinley Park Station. Sheperdia bushes grew abundantly near this spot assuring an abundant food supply of berries for the nestlings. In fact, the whole ecological niche needed for nesting was present.

On June 25, 1926, Wright collected a pair of breeding Bohemian waxwings on Savage River. The female of this pair had the bare flabby breast of an incubating bird and her ovaries indicated she had recently laid eggs.

On July 26, 1932, I saw a family of young just out of the nest at Park. Headquarters. At McKinley Bar from August 21-24, 1932, between 10 and 30 Bohemian waxwings were seen daily feeding on Sheperdia berries in the spruce woods. One immature female not long out of the nest was collected at this locality on August 14. It was found to lack the red wax tippings that are usually present on immature male birds of this species. Our field investigations show that the Bohemian waxwing nests regularly in the lower dense spruce woods of the McKinley region.

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