Quite a number of times during the past month visitors have asked, "What is that bird anyway?" And the bird in question was a Raven. No wonder they attract attention; they are much larger than the familiar Crow and their throaty croak is as coarse in sound as their appearance is ungainly. Drifting into Longmire -- probably from the steep precipice which we know as The Ramparts where their nests might be found were it possible to investigate -- they swing downward in wide spirals like so many dismal shadows against the white and sparkling snows. They are carrion birds and their diet consists of whatever refuse may be found. Leaving us again they rise skyward with ponderous wing beats as they lift their heavy bodies into the air, their croaking audible until they disappear from view. They are interesting yet far from being cheerful in appearance and being wary and suspicious by nature rarely venture about feeding boards or other similar gestures of human friendliness here. Those feeding boards are hosts to quite a number of other birds.
During a recent cold spell the chunks of suet upon them froze until even the strong and persistant beaks of the Jays could scarcely wrangle much from them. One morning the slow thumping, which was evidence of a Jay's efforts on the frozen suet, was exchanged for a more rapid staccatto and upon peering out the window a Harris Woodpecker was pounding away -- and not without renumeration for his efforts. Since then both the male and female Harris Woodpecker (the latter being conspicuous because of the lack of the red patch on the back of the head) have visited us regularly. The morning hours also bring forth a band of small birds -- probably Siskins -- that emerge from the heavy timber near the meadow about the springs. In regular formation they swing into the open area pointing their flight toward the opposite end where they wheel suddenly, their white underparts flashing in the early morning sun. Back and forth they go, always high, their thin notes barely reaching our ears, and swinging suddenly in their hectic gyrations at intervals as if by sudden command. And then, quite as suddenly, they wheel toward the timber again in whose heavy foliage they mysteriously lose themselves to sight.
On a recent trip to Bear Prarie, a few miles beyond the south boundary of the Park, several Oregon Ruffed Grouse flushed from their cover in the nearby timber. This grouse is a cousin to the Blue Grouse, so common in the sub-alpine meadows in the summer and also to the Ptarmigan whose abode is high on "The Mountain" during the summer season and who rarely ventures lower than the sub-alpine country even in severe winter weather. The nasal "Yank! Yank!" of the Nuthatch was also very much in evidence on this trip and although none were actually seen their characteristic call note gave indication of their presence. Stellar Jays are pesky things! A camera was rigged up with a string for snapping pictures of birds when they visited the feeding board. Twice these nervy Jays perched on the string -- and there by took some worthless pictures!
Our Museum library is richer to the extent of one volumn - Professor Edmund Meaney's book, "Mt. Rainier -- a Record of Exploration". This book, now out of print and very valuable, was received during the month as a gift from Mr. George B. Haynes, Passenger Traffic Manager of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. It fills a very necessary place on our reference shelves -- one that has previously been vacant. Mr. Haynes's generosity has made possible a better service, in matters historical, to visitors of Mt. Rainier National Park.
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