Nature Notes

Mount Rainier National Park

Vol. XIII March - 1935 No. 1

Issued quarterly by the Naturalist Department of Mount Rainier National Park. Material contained herein may be used freely provided that credit is given to this pamphlet and the author.
C. Frank Brockman,
Park Naturalist.
O. A. Tomlinson,

Douglas Squirrel vs. Camp Robber

Remember the vouge for "mixed bouts" a number of years ago when a wrestler and a boxer would enter the "squared circle" in an attempt to determine which of these "manly arts" was the superior? This issue, as far as the writer is concerned, was never known to be definitely decided though the heated controversy succeeded in enticing numbers through the turnstiles of various arenas.

Now it seems - according to a story by Hollis Barnett of Longmire - that such a controversy has been carried into the animal world. Two cantankerous citizens of the woods sought to settle a dispute and the result was just about as enlightening as the results of the aforementioned "mixed bouts".

Camp Robber
Camp Robber - he was disturbed.

Resting along a trail in the deep woods, my informant stated he noticed a Camp Robber glide lightly to a branch of one of two nearby small trees that stood very close together, their branches interlacing. After a brief interlude a Douglas Squirrel came loping over the forest floor in a manner that bespoke a well defined purpose. He spotted the Camp Robber who immediately fluffed its feathers, spread its wings in an unmistakable gesture of battle and exhaled, in a sort of hiss, through its partly opened beak in what might be considered the avian equivalent of the "Bronx cheer". The squirrel, warily circling the base of the tree, replied with the vociferous chatterring outburst characteristic of his kind. Truly, this was to be a "grudge match"! Scampering up the trunk of the tree he paused momentarily just below the Camp's perch, exposed his head and shoulders to his antagonist and again emitted his shrill challenge. The bird dove hard and fast but flashed by the spot which had been occupied by the squirrel without doing any damage and returned again to the perch. Then circling the tree trunk in frenzied haste that sent bits of bark flying in all directions the squirrel successfully eluded his antagonist. The bird sought to strike his tormentor as he swooped and caromed about. The squirrel was a foxy fellow; his footwork was too speedy and his change of pace too confusing. Again the Camp Robber, wings partly spread and feathers fluffed, sought his perch. Above him spat the squirrel. Suddenly he raced out along the branch toward the feathered antagonist, chatterring as he went, but the bird hopped into the air with rapid wing beats and drove hard toward the raging animal. But Mr. Squirrel leaped to the tree trunk and again resorted to his defense tactics of circling the rough bole of the tree at an alarming speed, the bird screaching, swooping, twisting and side slipping as he sought to reach his tormentor.

Thus the battle waged. At intervals time out would be called; then the fracas would be resumed with renewed vigor. After some minutes had elapsed the Camp Robber, seeking seclusion from the noisy, antagonistic and cantankerous squirrel, flew deeper into the woods; but the villian still pursued him and no doubt the outcome of this bout is still an undetermined factor. (C.F.B.)


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