A few weeks ago my young son rushed breathless into the house with the excited statement, "There's a new bird out here". Sure enough it as a new bird to us altho reported several times before in the park. On a nearby tree was a pair of Northern Red-breasted Sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus ruber notkensis). Since that time several pairs have been seen working over the trunks of the trees and one day two males, clenched in vicious battle, fell to the ground with a thud and continued fighting until separated by a spectator. I have no doubt that it would have been a fight to the death had it not been interrupted for chisel-like beaks that can cut hard wood could surely do considerable damage to flesh and bone.
The Red-breasted Sapsucker is slightly larger than the common yellow-bellied sapsucker and is conspicuous for his red, white and black markings. The head, neck and chest of both male and female are entirely red.
During the month the annual shift from summer to winter birds has been completed. With the disappearance of the Varied Thrushes a few weeks back the last of the typical summer birds had left us. At about the same time the first Magpies from the plains east of the mountains arrived in the lower valleys and the winter bird season was on. Now one sees and hears ravens, crows, Steller Jays, Gray Jays, Juncos, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers and Winter Wrens, but no Warblers, Thrushes, Robins, or Bluebirds.
Another rather uncommon visitor was noted early in the month at Paradise Valley. This was the Cassin Purple Finch conspicuous in its dark-purple cloak against the white of the new snow.
Gray jays, Magpies, juncos and siskins are abundant about the Winter Lodge at Paradise where they share with the bears and Martens the bounteous hospitality of the cook and his helpers.
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