Nature Notes

Mount Rainier National Park

Vol. V August 29, 1927 Summer Season No. 9

Issued monthly during the winter months, weekly during the summer months, by the Mount Rainier National Park Nature Guide Service. By Floyd W. Schmoe, Park Naturalist.


On a recent visit to Indian Henry the Western Solitary Sandpiper was noted on the edge of Squaw Lake. This sandpiper is solitary in habits and shows a preference for the alpine lakes of the Hudsonian Zone. The bird stretched its wings frequently straight toward the sky as though trying them out to be sure they were ready for use. The bird nods continually and teeters only occasionally which aids in distinguishing it from the Spotted Sandpiper which teeters often and nods only occasionally. The white outer tail feathers are very conspicuous when starting to fly and its dark color and black wings also are prominent. Taylor and Shaw say of this bird "Snow banks, thick cloudy weather, difficult topography, darkness even, apparently have no terrors for this Solitary Sandpiper". This bird is said to use the old nests of Robins and other birds in building its nest in bushes at some distance from the ground. Nesting instances are rare. It nests in Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan.


The Douglas Squirrel is a remarkably inquisitive and persistent animal. He also could give the little busy-bee lessons in industry. The Naturalist at Longmire lives in a tent house, a portion of which affords access to both weather and squirrels. One of these Douglas Squirrels in an exploring trip discovered things to eat but the naturalist failed to discover the same things when he wanted them. Since them has occurred a battle of wits in which the naturalist has not always been victorious.

In the first place the squirrel starts his operations about five o'clock in the morning when opposition is most nearly zero except occasionally in self-defense. Upon two or three occasions he has been seen sitting in an upright position and his bright eyes watching the bed of the naturalist before beginning operations. How does a Douglas Squirrel known that a peanut butter can with the lid closed contains peanut butter? How does he know that lids come off of cans? He does not keep his provisions in cans. I have watched this particular squirrel with his long slim fingers and sharp claws remove the lid from this can. He also has removed the lid from a malted milk can which fits down into the can instead of over its edge and requires a different operation to open it. As yet he has not opened the mason jar containing strawberry preserves but perhaps he does not care for strawberries. The greatest surprise came when with a gang one morning the lid to a large five gallon can fell to the floor. This old lard can serves as refrigerator and safety deposit for foods. This occurred at the usual early hour. The banging of the lid disturbed the squirrel as well as the naturalist. The squirrel hurried away uttering imprecations, perhaps concerning his bungling operations that had awakened opposition.

Just at present we are storing our food in a box with a lid nailed on but we are keeping the hammer hidden.

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