Nature Notes

Vol. XII February - 1934 No. 2

Just Here and There

Asst. Chief Ranger Macy reported that two deer were found with broken legs in the latter part of October and early November of 1933. However, the animals recovered and the bones which had suffered from some unfortunate accident of the woods had healed and the deer showed no visible signs of those fractures. The animals hobbled about, carrying the broken member until it had healed sufficiently to allow the animal to place a portion of its weight upon it. One of the deer was a fawn. It was first noted on November 16, and its leg had been broken one or two days previous. A buck deer was noted on October 30 with a broken leg, and three weeks later the same animal was seen--this time the leg had healed sufficiently to allow the animal to use all four legs.


Among the birds that are particuarly abundant and noticeable during the winter season are the Crossbills. They are often seen in groups in the upper portions of the trees working on the cones that are still hanging from the branches. Later in December, on returning to the Museum office after lunch, we noted one of these birds fluttering about in the snow. Closer observation proved that the bird had a broken wing.


It was a female American Crossbill (another species--the White Winged Crossbill are also found in the park) and consequently was not as highly colored as the male, which is characterized by dull reddish tints. Nevertheless, the general olive green color of this bird's plumage rendered it very beautiful. With the bird in hand, we had ample opportunity to observe the peculiar beak that it possesses--a feature that is responsible for its name--for the upper "lip" of the beak is crossed over the lower and by this peculiar adaptation the bird is enabled to spread the scales of cones apart and obtain the seeds within.


One of the reasons why park visitors should respect the 30 mile speed limit in the park lies in the safety of park animals. Deer and bear are inveterate "jay walkers" and, in the case of deer especially, their quick erratic movements sometimes make collisions between cars and animals impossible to avoid if the motorist is not driving carefully and slowly on park roads. The writer knows of several cases where deer, bear, raccoon and other animals have been hit by careless motorists and on several occasions the animals were painfully injured or killed. Nor is the danger of such a collision applicable only to the animals. A fast moving automobile should it collide with a large bear is likely to be seriously damaged and its occupants, as well as the bear, painfully injured.

Along the same line we were told of a deer who, on becoming confused by the lights of a car on one of the park highways, leaped in the wrong direction and flung himself into the side of the auto that he sought to avoid. Luckily neither car, its occupants or the deer were injured. This freakish collision occurred in the first week of December, 1933 near the Nisqually Entrance where deer are abundant at this time.

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