Nature Notes

Vol. VIII August 1, 1930 No. 9

A Camp Ground Adventure

While walking up the road in the Longmire Camp Grounds toward the Community House just about dusk one of the camp ground Rangers was surprised to see sauntering across the way, what appeared to be a flock of small, tame turkey chicks. While wondering whence they came the chicks happened closer to the Ranger's feet and at that distance he could see that they were the chicks of the Hooter or Sooty Grouse.

Little did they fear the guardian of peace, law and order but pecked away at the Kinnickinick which was abundant where the Ranger was standing. In admiring the little birds he wondered how close the hen might be and with what degree of safety one chick might be picked up. The chance was taken, but no sooner did his firm hand grasp one of the brood, which was perched upon his dusty shoe, than a whirring feathered object struck the brim of his hat.

Startled, but fully cognizant that the maternal instinct of the wilds to protect its young was in full evidence about him, the Ranger rose, chick in hand, watching the hen flashing her black beak at him in saber like thrusts. The Ranger clucked at her in typical barnyard fashion--a language which was, of course, totally foreign to her. With feathers a-fluff and with tail spread wide the hen followed the Ranger for about 20 yards when she stopped and returned to the remainder of the flock while the captive chick and its captor went to a near by camp where some children marveled over the babe of the woods.

In not over five minutes the Ranger returned to the scene of the former action to look for the mother grouse, hoping to be able to extend formal apologies for kidnapping the young scion of that hooter clan. He soon found the flock gathered about the roots of a tall hemlock, heads cocked skyward gazing upon the mother, perched some fifty feet up in the tree, admonishing them in no uncertain terms as to the dangers of making free acquaintance with passing Rangers.

Leonard Alley
Camp Ground Ranger.

sketch of grouse hen and chicks

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