Nature Notes

Vol. V September 6, 1927 Summer Season No. 10


The Douglas Squirrel is a tree squirrel. He spends most of his time in the branches, utilizes tree cones for food, builds his home in a hollow trunk, and usually descends to the ground only to run to the base of another tree. It is therefore not surprising that the Douglas Squirrel is rarely seen above the limit of the heavy timber. It is really surprising that he is ever seen up high.

The writer saw his first Douglas Squirrel in Paradise Valley the last week in August. The little fellow was running up a rock-slide on Government Hill, and attracted attention because, at that altitude, and in those surroundings, he ought to have been a mantled ground squirrel, and to have stipes down his back.

W. P. Taylor, in his new book: "Mammals and Birds of Mount Rainier National Park", a government publication, gives many instances of Douglas Squirrels climbing to similar and higher elevations. To quote from Mr. Taylor: "He was seen not only throughout the forest, but also at Camp Curtis, 9000 feet, 2,500 feet above timber-line, probably 2-1/2 miles from the nearest trees. Later one squirrel was seen and another heard at Steamboat Prow, 9700 feet. The next day an individual was observed at an altitude of between 10,000 and 10,500 feet on Emmons Glacier, a considerable distance from any rocks or earth. The animal was headed downhill, as if he had just been to the summit and enjoying the experience very much."


Our party reached Camp Muir in the evening of a cold and windy day. With numb fingers we kindled a small fire in the old Sibly stove. Somewhat revived, we ventured again to "take a look at the weather". Just outside the door we spied a white-footed mouse. During the night, we entertained by the scampering of what seemed to be armies of mice, chipmunks, or pack-rats. Possibly they, too, found the cold night wind too much for their liking, and came inside. More likely they were interested in the husky lunches that we had packed up there for their especial benefit.

Next day, after a frigid ascent, we came down to Camp Muir in a snow storm. Glad to take shelter, we set about preparing warm food. Hopping about outside, contentedly facing the wind driven snow, were two leucostictes, or rosy finches. These pudgy birds, with their black bills and well-feathered gray heads, seem to really think that Camp Muir is comfortable.

Among the birds and animals that have been seen at Camp Muir, are the pack rat, the little chipmunk, the large-footed meadow mouse, the white-footed mouse, the pipit, the pine-siskin, the leucosticte and the rufous humming-bird. What the latter finds to hum on is a matter of question, for only a few plants, such as smelowskia and draba, flower at Camp Muir.

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