Nature Notes

Vol. VIII January, 1930 No. 1

Birds of the Month/Magpie


A Magpie dropped in to look us over recently. This fellow -- he of very striking appearance with his sharply contrasting black and white plumage -- is listed as a casual visitor and so we see him only occasionally. Last year, about this time, his presence was reported in Nature Notes and although he is not held in very high repute by most people his appearance is certainly striking. The most abundant of all bird species in the Park during the past month seemed to be the Kinglets -- the Golden Crowned and Ruby Crowned sharing about equally in number and we see them flitting nervously about in the heavy foliage of the evergreens, their thin high-pitched notes calling our attention to their presence. Yet the most interesting bird and the one which has caused quite a lot of comment because of his preferance for working on the timber within a few feet of the Museum windows, is the Creeper. This tiny, brownish bird is well named, for he is equipped in a manner that allows him to cling to the bark of trees -- even to using his tail as a sort of prop to aid in this process -- thus enabling his long, slender curved bill to make life miserable for any grubs that may be found beneath the bark. He seems to be an advocate of "starting at the bottom and working up" for he usually begins at the base of the tree, circling the trunk many times as he explors every nook and cranny as he ascends. His method is very much like that of a Woodpecker yet he is not related to these birds. And speaking of woodpeckers the recent trip to Paradise Valley was conducive of a close up of a Harris Woodpecker. This species has black wings and head with a characteristic white stripe down the middle of its back and with its grey breast washed with reddish brown. The one observed must have been a female as the red patch on the back of the neck was lacking. This bird's close relative -- a Lewis Woodpecker -- was noted at Longmire. It bears the illustrious name of Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame -- those American trail blazers with whose exploits we are all familiar. He was working on the trees near the Museum and his distinguishing marks -- black wings, back and head with the suggestion of a white collar and with the sides of the face and the breast marked with red -- were quite noticeable.


Of course we saw, in addition to those mentioned above, the usual Chickadees -- the Chestnut Backed and Oregon species -- which are present in large numbers throughout the winter; Western Crows are also in evidence and occasionally a Raven drops in. And the Stellar Jays and Camp Robbers, whose familiarity breeds contempt, appear to find the scraps left behind by careless visitors pleasing to their palates. In the case of the latter two birds their numbers are legion.

camp robber

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