Nature Notes

Vol. VIII June 1st, 1930 No. 6

Birds of the Month

Many of our birds are busy with nesting and outher family problems at this time. Early in the month Supt. Tomlinson and Mrs. Walter Hewitt made mention of a water Ouzel's nest near the Park Entrance. Consequently several trips were made to the location and the camera was brought into play to record the character and location of the nest for slides which are to be used later in our talks. Generally the Water Ouzel selects a small niche in a cliff near the water's edge where the spray from the tumultuous stream keeps the moss, of which it is constructed fresh and growing. In such a location the nest seems to be merely a clump of moss growing upon the face of the rock. This nest however was constructed at the end of a log -- one end of which was lodged in the middle of the stream and the other being elevated a few feet above the noisy waters of the Nisqually. Yet so well did it blend with its surroundings that one had to look carefully to see it. Approaching the location the two Water Ouzels, apparently engaged in gathering food for their young, would busy themselves with doing nothing at all as if family cares were the farthest thing from their mind. It was evident that they believed their nest to be unobserved. As the nest was about 15 feet from the bank the process was watched through binoculars and several times when one of the birds would "take off" from the opposite bank so that the insect larvae in its beak could be transferred to the hungry offspring, the movement of my arm as I raised the binoculars seemed to them to embody a sinister motive and the bird turned back. Several times this happened. Finally a tiny squeak was heard and like a flash the bird responded -- darting to the ball of moss at the end of the log, depositing her burden of food and back to the original position on the rocks in the twinkling of an eye. Then both birds set up their tinkling song as if in celebration of the success of their daring adventure.

Water Ouzel


A Northwestern Flicker broke the solitude in the region of Ricksacker Point by drumming loud and long upon an old snag and then made the hills echo with his noisy voice as he flew away to some retreat in the "Silver Forest". This bird prefers old burns to the live forest for nesting sites are abundant in the fire-killed snags and food is also plentiful. His habits are quite different from those of the Western Winter Wren which is a characteristic bird of the deep woods -- as different by comparasion in habit as they are in size -- and on the trail through the deep woods we see the Wren, popping in and out among the tangeled vegetation on the forest floor, as he chides us with that curt little note of his -- "Chip! Chip!". Occasionally he burts into song and it is then that we wonder how so great a volumn of melodious notes can have their origin in so small a bird for, with the exception of the Hummingbirds, he is the most diminutive member of our feathered residents. And speaking of Hummingbirds the metallic whine of their wings as they wizz along, which we hear occasionally, denotes that they are back with us again. Another other birds noted were the Western Flycatcher, Mountain Bluebird and a warbler which we took to be a Lutescent Warbler.

Snap Bugs

"Elateridae" you would call the family to which these well known insects belong if you were an entomologist -- however the two youngsters who ensnared this "snap bug" and brought it to the Museum have several years yet before they will even begin to think ef the possibilities of "bug chasing" as a hobby. Most of us are familiar with these beetles which, when placed upon their backs, have the power to spring into the air. In that manner they are generally able to land right side up. The front and rear sections of the body are loosely jointed so that it can be bowed. Then the beetle straightens with a sharp "click" and springs into the air. sketch In the larval stage, which is the second of four stages which the beetle passes through before the egg becomes an adult (caterpillars are the larvae of the butterfly or moth) the "Elateridae" cause considerable damage though this one was probably a species that lives on dead wood and could thus be called beneficial.

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