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Fauna Series No. 6








Life History





Fauna of the National Parks — No. 6
The Bighorn of Death Valley
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Cast of Characters

As our study progressed, 51 different bighorn were observed in the monument frequently enough and at sufficiently close range to receive identifying names in our field notes. The names of these individuals and their identifying characteristics are given here. The subject is discussed further under "Field Identification."


Black and Tan Prime. Tan with blackish mane, ears, and legs. At Nevares Springs.
Broken Nose Heavy, mature ram with crooked, humped nose. Dark, chipped-away patch on left horn. At Nevares Springs. (See figs. 51 to 59.)
Flathorn Big dark ram, aloof and suspicious, with a flat area on the top curve of his left horn. At Nevares Springs.
Full Curl The oldest ram we knew. Possibly 14 years. Very heavy and badly broomed, but still full-curled horns. Potbellied, but still sleek and intimidated by no one. At Nevares Springs.
The Hook Prime. About 8 years old. Slim, dark shiny red (mahogany). High, round close curl, straight nose, and straight neck. Quarter-horse type. Light mark across nose. Beetle browed, left horn broken off leaving jagged, sharp "hook." Right horn split off in jagged point, making identification easy. At Nevares Springs.
Kinky Young, mature (5 years old, with widespread horns with a "kink" near tips of both horns. At Big Wash, Echo Canyon.
Knocker Young ram with outsized testicles to match his overactive ego. At Nevares Springs.
Little Joe Small young ram with a belligerent disposition that reminded us of a small man we knew by the name of Joe. At Nevares Springs.
Low Brow Young ram, with heavy projecting forehead. At Nevares Springs.
Mahogany Big, mahogany red, archetype of the desert Bighorn ram. At Nevares Springs.
Nevares Called by this place name because he typified the rangy appearance of the majority of the first Nevares sheep we knew. Long body, long legs, long ewe neck, high shoulders. About 7 years old. Definitely mature, but gangling. Hindlegs bent out a little, willowy. Last 10 inches of curve of horns extremely thin and flat, sharper curve or "hook" toward end. On September 2, left horn splintered off 2 to 3 inches. Brown color. Dull pelage.
Nevares II Named for older prototype. Younger than Nevares (about 5 years old), but also rangy, ewe necked, high shouldered, long bodied, long legged, horns deeply corrugated, lots of hair back of head with a "shawl" of unshed hair over shoulders. No "hook" on left horn, but left tip turns toward his body, right tip away from body.
Paleface Dark gray young ram with whitish face, who herded Droopy for 3 days below Badwater near Keystone Canyon.
Rambunctious Aggressive adolescent of the Furnace Creek band. Scar on his back and right side; pronounced sectioning of his horntips. (See fig. 30.)
Roughneck Not yet prime. Rough pelage on neck and shoulders fitted his aggressive nature. At Nevares Springs.
Skinny Older than Slim. Rough coated, aggressive. At Nevares Springs.
Slim Gangly, high horned. About 3 years old. At Nevares Springs.
The Stranger An old "traveling man" on the rut run in March 1956. At Dead Man's Curve.
Tabby Blunted full curl, last 6 to 8 inches of left horn chipped thinner and lighter than rest of horns, slimmer than Broken Nose, with extra "tab" of skin on scrotum. Scar on right flank. No eye rings or other facial markings except black spot on nose. No white on front legs or inside back legs. Eight to nine years old. At Nevares Springs. (See figs. 51 to 59.)
Tan Rump Prime. Brown, with tan instead of white romp patch. A traveling ram, with occasional stop overs at Nevares.
Tight Curl Mature. Light tan, low shouldered, with peculiar tight curl of right horn, nick near tip of left horn; bases of both horns scarred by heavy fighting. At Nevares Springs, Navel Spring, Big Wash, Furnace Creek, Echo Canyon. (See fig. 25.)
Toby Tall, bony, high shouldered, scraggly "wig" on back of head. About 8 years old. At Nevares Springs.

Big and Little Sandies The two unmarked sand-colored ewes, perhaps sisters, who were inseparable companions at Furnace Creek. Big Sandy had three faint "warble" scars on the right side. (See figs. 18 and 19.)
Blondie The distinctively light-colored, young, and slender proportioned glamour girl of the Furnace Creek band.
Brahma Broken or malformed horns, drooping ears, and the light, blue-gray color of a Brahma cow. She was the lightest colored ewe at Nevares Springs. She had a single-foot gait. About 5 or 6 years old. Had 3-month-old ram lamb, slightly buckskin colored. We knew her for over 4 years.
Brahma II Brahma II looked like Brahma, but she was the leader of the band on Death Valley Buttes, 9 miles northwest.
Brokeoff Brokeoff led her forlorn little band to Nevares Springs in 1958. She was tall, gaunt, and gray, with one very long horn and one—what else? Broken off!
Dark Eyes This was the only ewe we ever knew who seemed to have black eyes. We never could get close enough to her to analyze the reason. At Nevares Springs.
Droopy The Badwater contender for leadership, with the unique, down-curved horns that led many to think that she was a ram. (See figs. 5 and 6.)
Gimpy Lame in her right hindleg but a great traveler. Observed at Furnace Creek, Big Wash, Paleomesa. We last saw her, browsing alone, in the Red Amphitheater in 1957.
Little Brownie The smallest ewe at Nevares Springs except Little Ewe.
Little Ewe Pale gray. Dainty, gentle mother at Nevares Springs.
Long Brownie Named for reddish-brown color and descriptive conformation. Exaggerated Nevares type—long bodied. Only red-brown ewe seen in area. Gives impression of white-socked horse. No lamb. Horns almost as long as Longhorn's.
Longhorn Prime. Clear gray, slender, aloof, and with the longest horns we ever saw. At Nevares Springs.
New Mama Slender and elegant compared with Old Mama, but a nervous leader of the new band that came in March. At Furnace Creek. (See fig. 37.)
Old Eighty The eighth to join the Furnace Creek band. The leader when Old Mama wasn't there. Right horntip missing; pronounced annular hornrings on both horns, 1 set of annual rings deeply grooved. Face whitish. (See figs. 17 and 31.)
The Old Lady The mother of sad Little Fuzzy, who had the un rewarding distinction of having a canyon named after him because he died there, half a mile north of Nevares.
Old Leader or The Patriarch The dignified, unhurried old leader of the Badwater band. (See figs. 1, 5, and 7.)
Old Mama To whom we owe so much. Old, potbellied, runny-nosed, but tough and worldly wise in bighorn ways. Her right horn was chipped on the inside (rare) near the base, and distinctively broomed at the tip. Her eyes were yellow, with light patches below. At Paleomesa, Furnace Creek, Big Wash, Navel Spring. (See figs. 10 and 28.)
Pearl Pearl was a big ewe who got her name because of the peculiar quality of the gray of her coat. She and her lamb lived somewhere on Pyramid Peak and came down across Paleomesa now and then on their way to water at Navel Spring.
Scarface An otherwise sleek and beautiful 2-year-old who had apparently fallen from a cliff when she was very young. That she survived the severe facial lacerations and possible skull injuries which left her face the way it was is remarkable. At Furnace Creek. (See fig. 29.)
Whitehorns Bad Boy's mother. She had a white patch of hair at the base of each horn, which seemed to extend her horns down the side of her head.

Baby Brownie She got lost before dawn in the rut run and survived several days alone on Nevares Peak before Little Brownie, her mother, found her again.
Bad Boy A 6-month-old who was already pestering the ewes when he came out on Paleomesa in the autumn of 1956. (See figs. 32 and 33.)
Light Neck Named for whitish patches on both sides of neck. Dark Eyes was this ram lamb's mother. About 7 to 8 months old. Had 6- to 7-inch horns. Still nursing. Dark gray with blackish tints, light neck. Long legs. Horns already showing male characteristics.
Little Brahma This lamb had begun to look more and more like his mother (Brahma) when we last saw him heading toward Red Wall Canyon at the foot of Nevares Peak.
Little Fuzzy Named for its "fuzzy" brownish coat. Old Lady was its mother. Scrawny legs, potbellied, like a skim-milk calf, possibly owing to malnutrition, since the mother looked dry. No horns. Looked about 6 weeks old. Found dead August 30 (fig. 44) after being seen alone on August 23. Younger than we thought—perhaps 4 weeks.
Little Whitey Bad Boy's inseparable companion. A ewe lamb, much lighter colored than he and with white rump, white face (relatively rare), and a peculiar carriage of the head. (Sec figs. 26, 32, and 33.)
Marco Six months old. A tough, homely little fellow with a tendency toward travel and independence. Buckskin color (rare) with a blackish mane.
Mischief Mischief was the first lamb we knew and the only child of the Badwater family. (See figs. 27 and 48.)
Old Mama's Lamb This lamb had a wonderful time for the first few weeks of its life in Furnace Creek. Then from watching her, however, we began to learn how difficult it is to be a bighorn lamb in Death Valley. (See figs. 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, and 39.)

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