Nature Notes

Vol. II September 3, 1924 No. 11

By Park Naturalist F. W. Schmoe

Edward Sawyer, Park Naturalist of Yellowstone reports he has noticed that farmer cony frequently interupts his hay-making to bring in small black pieces of dead wood and other objects and place them with his hay. As Mr. Sawyer remarks a person might be led to believe that the cony brings in these tokens as "markers" to distinguish his hay from that of his neighbors. This little fellow does other things quite as strange.

A cony is nearly always carrying something. Usually it is grass or other herbage wanted for food. It is noted that they seldom take the center of an object but usually drag it from one end.

Recently a cony that lives among the foundation stones of Paradise Inn was seen strolling across the lawn with a cigarette. He had it by the end and it hung rakishly from a corner of his mouth very much as if he were enjoying a smoke.

Here was an ultra-modern scion of a very old family as widespread almost as the mountains of the world. When Noah released his pair from the ark they must have liked old Arrat's stony crest and made their home there. Later their descendants spread to other mountainous regions of the globe. Moses told the children of Israel that they were not to eat the "cony that lives in the rocks" as he was unclean. This apparently was due to the fact that although he "cheweth the cud he hath not cleft hoofs," it was a good thing for the cony. The Israelites were frequently hungry and the cony has numerous other enemies including the owls, hawks, eagles weasels and bob cats.

Recently members of a Nature Guide fieldtrip were favored by a whole flock of conies who sat up and talked to us for some time. The language of these little rock rabbits consists of a series of "eaks" in a squeaky voice. To watch one at close range as he throws back his head and opens his mouth one might think he was going to hear a small lion roar instead of merely a squeak.

He is not the producer of the widely used cony fur. That is nothing more nor less than rabbit fur. The Indians of the Northwest called him Pika which meant "Little Chief". They probably admired his fine bearing and industrious habits.

By Park Ranger P. M. Macy

Out in Nature's wild life sanctuary, the forests, the birds and animals are rehearsing and performing in their best form. As I stood today by the telephone on the tree, the beautiful notes of the varied thrush floated down to me from a branch above and a western winter wren came hopping from one low bush to another. She flew to safer quarters as her curiosity was overcome with fear, calling defiantly as she went.

A pair of great blue herons came flying across the tops of the trees on their way home form a pollywog fest in a nearby lake and stopped on one of the upper branches of a dead fir long enough to get their bearings. With a sweep of their broad wings they rose slowly and were seeon lost to view in the forest.

The Bald Eagle soared majestically above the higher ridges of the mountain with no apparent effort on his part, waiting perhaps for an opportunity to force his prey over a precipice to its death on the rocks below or for some small game that could be more easily taken. Lower down in the valley near an open meadow the Sparrow Hawk was holding his position with fluttering wings over some intended prey waiting for the pyschological time to strike.

Here and there along a small stream the juncos were flitting among the willow shrubs and just beneath the little chipmunks were busily engaged in foraging for their livelihood.

Later a Hoary Marmot came running up the log rail beside the road crossed over and into the Huckleberry bushes in search of the ripened fruit. At the bend in the road a black cub bear came ambling along thinking to cross over to the other side when he saw an automobile approaching, whereupon he started down the road on the gallop leaving a trail of dust behind.

Of particular interest were three Columbia black tailed deer which browsed on a little open meadow for a time, just below the road, apparently oblivious to the presence of man and his noisy machines.

By Park Ranger P. M. Macy

This seems to have been a year for " sports. " Possibly it was due to the fact that the snow went to much earlier than usual than Mother Nature provided these " albino flowers " as a substitute for the snow.

First we found the Indian paintbrush in white in several localities. Then later when the arctic lupine, a purplish blue in color was blossoming at its best, a pure white cluster of this pea like flower was found, which after about two weeks began turning blue. By the time it reached its last stages of decadence it had become almost entirely blue. The other flower " sport " can perhaps be accounted for, in that it was a mimulus or monkey flower. Beautiful white clusters growing in patches among the red, were found both in Van Trump and Paradise Parks.

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