Breeding Activities Of Crater Lake Birds
By Robert C. Wood, Ranger Naturalist
During the summer of 1954, several nesting records of interest were added to the park's ever-increasing store of ornithological information. Nests were found, each for the second time only within Crater Lake National Park, for two species. These were the ruby-crowned kinglet, Regulus calendula (Linnaeus), and the Pacific nighthawk, Chordeiles minor (Forster).
On July 16, between lower Munson Meadow and the road to Annie Spring, at an elevation of about 6,200 feet, I discovered the ruby-crowned kinglet carrying food to a nest crowded with five nearly-grown young. The nest was situated in a lodgepole pine, near the outer end of a dense mass of branches about ten feet above the ground. It was so well hidden as to be only barely visible from below. The bulk of the nest was made up of dead lichens, with much deer hair woven through it. A few bits of rabbit fur and red string were scattered around the top and sides. Feathers lined the interior, one of them apparently coming from a mountain bluebird. The nest measured four inches in greatest diameter and three and one-half inches in depth; the cup was only one and three-quarters inches wide and one and one-half inches deep. The empty nest was collected later in the summer and is now in the park collection (CLNP 632).
The other "find of the year" was the discovery by Mrs. Stine, wife of Ranger J. Francis Stine, of a nesting nighthawk about one-third mile southeast of the Lost Creek Ranger Station (Stine and Stine, 1954). The two eggs were found on the ground in a tiny clearing from which the pine needles and pebbles had been pushed aside. The site was a few feet from a small group of lodgepole pines, typical of that relatively open woodland. Discovered on July 18, the eggs hatched a day apart, on the 27th and 28th. By mid-August, the two downy young could still be found by a careful search of the area within several hundred feet of the nest.
On July 19, a pair of violet-green swallows, Tachycineta thalassina (Swainson), were seen entering the same cavity in one of the Wheeler Creek pinnacles that was evidently used in 1953 as a nesting site. Mountain chickadees, Parus gambeli Ridgway, nested in a cavity at the top of a four-foot mountain hemlock stub in the South Entrance utility area. On June 30, several young and one of the adult birds were found in the hole. The parent made no effort to escape but showed its agitation by hissing and pecking at the wall of the cavity. A red-breasted nuthatch, Sitta canadensis Linnaeus, was seen on June 23 carrying fragments a wood out of a hole twenty feet up in a dead mountain hemlock near Duwee Falls.
Western tanagers, Piranga ludoviciana (Wilson), were again abundant in the vicinity of Park Headquarters and were especially numerous around the Lost Creek Ranger Station -- until early August, when they became much less noticeable. An earnest attempt was made to locate a nest, since one has never been found in the park, but observation of females and singing males produced no results in this respect. While searching in the vicinity of lower Munson Meadow on July 12, one male was observed pursuing another, suggesting territorial behavior. On the 14th, a half-mile outside the south boundary, a pair of western tanagers were seen going to what appeared to be a nest in a dense tuft of needles at the outer end of a ponderosa pine branch about twenty- five feet above the ground. On subsequent visits, however, neither bird was seen. Three of four nearly-grown young tanagers were observed while being fed by a female near Castle Crest Wildflower Garden on August 7.
Other records of juvenile birds being fed by parents during this summer are: a gray jay, Perisoreus canadensis (Linnaeus), at Cold Spring Campground on June 23; several ruby-crowned kinglets in the lodgepole pine forest a mile northwest of Lost Creek Ranger Station on July 19; three hairy woodpeckers, Dendrocopos villosus (Linnaeus), near lower Munson Meadow on July 23; a Steller jay, Cyanocitta stelleri (Gmelin), at Annie Spring Campground on July 28; and an olive-sided flycatcher, Nuttallornis borealis (Swainson), being fed a large dragonfly along the Lake Trail on August 11. With the exception of the last, all of the birds were actively following the adult.
Farner, Donald S. 1952. The Birds of Crater Lake National Park. Lawrence, University of Kansas Press. ix, 187 pp.
Stine, J. Francis, and Mrs. Marcella Stine. 1954. Lost Creek Ramblings. Nature Notes from Crater Lake 20, pp. 18-20.
Wood, Robert C. 1953. Nesting birds. Nature Notes from Crater Lake 19:31.
Once In A Lifetime
By Carlton Smith, Ranger Naturalist
On June 29, 1954, the day dawned bright and clear. Early in the morning, Assistant Park Naturalist Richard Brown and I were driving down the highway toward South Entrance when suddenly, rounding one of the sharp curves, we came upon a group of parked cars. We proceeded to a turn-out and then returned to the scene on foot.
"What has happened?" brought an immediate chorus, "There is a baby in there among the trees." "A what?" We were then able to find out from one of the people present that there was a baby deer in the area. The first group of people had seen a Columbian black-tailed doe and two fawns. When they stopped to take a closer look, the doe and one of the fawns jumped off into the woods, while the other fawn remained near the edge of the highway.
We watched from a distance as the cameras clicked and the movie cameras droned on. After all the people had left the area, we took a closer look at the fawn. There it lay, directly in front of us, probably no more than a day or two old. It was nestled in a clump of huckleberry, its head resting on an old log. On either side of the clump of huckleberry were young mountain hemlock trees, about ten or twelve feet high.
Waiting for the sun to highlight the fawn, hoping it would not move, and trying to appear nonchalant as the cars passed by truly taxed our patience. Finally the stage was set, and Richard Brown began to take pictures of the fawn from a distance of fifty feet. With the camera showing only a few pictures remaining, Dick proceeded to move closer to the fawn, finally approaching within a few feet. During this entire time, the fawn appeared as motionless as a statue. After the roll of film was used up, I decided to see how motionless it would remain. Moving my arms outward, I gradually approached the fawn. Still no movement. Slowly I moved my hand outward as if to pet the animal. Not an eyelash fluttered. The only movement was the slight heaving of its body as it breathed. We were able to approach within a foot of the fawn.
Finally we went on our way, allowing the fawn to return to its mother. On our way back, later that same morning, we stopped at this place again, but there was no trace of the fawn.
After recounting the incident to my family that evening, we decided to return to the spot that night. Approaching cautiously, we saw a doe about 1,000 yards from the original point. Would we be able to see the doe with its two fawns again? Slowly creeping up to the area near the huckleberry mat, we peered breathlessly through the brush into the place where we had originally seen the fawn. We gazed upon an ordinary clump of huckleberries; no fawn was to be seen that night or any succeeding night. Truly we had been lucky in seeing the "once in a lifetime" view of a very young fawn that morning.
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