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November 1933Volume 8, Number 8


By Paul Kraus, Ranger Naturalist.

A most interesting little creature is the Pygmy Nuthatch. His courage is out of all proportion to his diminutive size; he seems to know no fear. That is just why three chipmunks decided not to remain any longer in a certain hole in a dead Quaking Aspen tree in the camp grounds on the North Rim.

The nuthatches had just reestablished the routine of family life in a home which Ranger Laws says they had occupied for the last four years. While the parent nuthatches were absent on one of their many journeys, three chipmunks spied their home and decided to take it over as their own. Moving in they found several of the younger members of the nuthatch family at home. Without any ceremony, they immediately proceeded to eat them.

When the parent nuthatches returned, naturally a great furore arose. Seeing the irate birds outside, the chipmunks decided it was time to leave the place, but when they attempted to climb out they found that they were trapped by the two vigilant parents. Every time a chipmunk would rise up to peer about for a possible chance to get away, the angered birds would rain a torrent of vicious pecking on its head, particularly on its nose.

This onslaught continued until one of the captive chipmunks was killed, with its head pecked into a bloody mass and its nose completely gone. Apparently the other two chipmunks finally escaped. Thus was the savage intrusion of the home of the nuthatches revenged.

Ranger Laws reports other interesting observations which further qualify the Pygmy Nuthatch as a spunky little fellow. He has seen them at winter feeding racks on the North Rim ruff their feathers and prance about to frighten away an intruding Kaibab White-tailed Squirrel. Although ordinarily friendly little birds, they are nevertheless creatures which will show the greatest spirit of fight, and are well able to care for themselves when imposed upon.

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