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January 1935Volume 9, Number 10


Ranger Naturalist Russell Grater

Many persons visiting the Grand Canyon National Park from a half hour to longer, leave secure in the belief that they have seen about all there is to see.

The writer recently returned from a three-day trip into the Canyon, during which time he had an excellent opportunity to see and examine some of the interesting features not visible from the rim. The purpose of the trip was to collect new zoological specimens for study purposes and to establish a bird banding station near Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon.

On November 21, the writer left the South Rim with most of his equipment preceding him by pack train. Snow covered the ground at the head of the trail, but this was soon left behind as the descent began. Little of interest, except scenery, was observed on the way to the river, for there seemed to be practically no animal or bird life abroad. However, one flock of Lead-colored Bush Tits1 numbering about twenty-five, was seen at an elevation of approximately 5500 feet, and a solitary Pinyon Jay2 was observed a few moments later.

1. Psaltriparus m. plumbeus.
2. Cyanocephalus cyanocephalus.

Arriving at the river, camp was established near the mouth of Bright Angel Canyon and the collecting of specimens and the operation of the bird-banding station was begun. Of the birds observed in the vicinity were numerous flocks of Shufeldt Juncos3 in one of which was a Red-backed Junco4 and two Gambel's Sparrows.5 Nearby two birds were collected for study skins, one a Says Phoebe6 and the other a Rock Wren.7

3. Junco o. shufeldti
4. Junco phaeonotus dorsalis
5. Zonotrichia l. gambeli
6. Sayornis s. saya
7. Salpinctes o. obaoletus

The following day a trip was made up Bright Angel Canyon as far as Ribbon Falls. About two miles above Phantom Ranch two bird specimens were collected, one a Canyon Wren,8 and the other a Water Ouzel or Dipper.9 The latter was collected only after careful maneuvering when the writer managed to get him near shallow water.

8. Catherpus m. conspersus
9. Cinclus m. unicolor

Continuing up the Canyon numerous Western Ruby-crowned Kinglets10 and two large flocks of Lead-colored Bush Tits11 were seen. Just before reaching Ribbon Falls two familiar calls were heard from a nearby tree, which finally proved to be none other than the White-breasted Woodpecker12 and the Mountain Chickadee,13 that cheery little acrobat of the forest.

10. Corthylio calendula cineraceus
11. Psaltriparus m. plumbeus
12. Dryobates v. leucothorectis
13. Penthestes g. gambeli

After eating lunch at the base of the falls, a little tour of inspection was made which resulted in the discovery of a huge clump of Scarlet Monkey Flowers14 in full bloom. At the same time there was snow on the cliffs overhead! Looking still farther in the vicinity a number of tracks were discovered near the base of the falls, in slightly moist earth. From their shape and size, they probably were made by a Bailey Bobcat.15 The tracks were rather recent.

14. Mimulus cardinalis
15. Lynx r. baileyi

It was on the way back to camp that a Desert Sparrow Hawk,16 was observed flying overhead. The writer immediately had visions of adding him to the collection and watched carefully to see where he might alight. The bird stopped on top of a huge rock near the mouth of a large box canyon. It was a slow and tedious task of creeping carefully up a steep slope in order to get within range of the hawk. Just as a close approach was reached, the bird flew away. Disappointed, the writer was about to return to the trail when he saw something moving far up the slope in the box canyon. Training field glasses on the moving object it was a surprise to see a large Mountain Sheep.17 Evidently he had seen the writer coming for he was quickly leaving the vicinity.

16. Falco s. phalaena
17. Ovis c. nelsoni

While on the return trip, a fishing and diving exhibition was staged by a Western Belted Kingfisher.18 Just before reaching camp a dark, heavily streaked sparrow was flushed. Although unable to get near enough for a good view, he appeared to be a Desert Song Sparrow.19

18. Megaceryle a. caurina
19. Melospiza m. saltonis

The following day the return trip was made to the South Rim. Leaving the mouth of Bright Angel Creek, the trail followed the sandy beach along the river where fresh tracks of the Ring-tail20 were discovered. Other tracks, which, from their size appeared to be those of the Arizona Gray Fox,21 were also noted. Just before reaching the Kaibab Suspension Bridge a small Colorado Rock Squirrel22 was seen. Nothing of unusual interest was observed on the remainder of the climb. Late in the afternoon the writer "topped out" on the South Rim, once more in a snow-covered country.

20. Bassariscus a. flavus
21. Orocyon c. scotti
22. Otospennophilus g. grammurus


The picture on the cover is of Bright Angel Canyon, which cuts into the north rim and through which Bright Angel Creek flows. In the mouth of this canyon among a grove of Cottonwood and fruit trees is Phantom Ranch, an inner canyon guest ranch of about 14 acres. It is in Bright Angel Canyon from Phantom Ranch well up towards the head of the Canyon that the survey reported above was made. The inner canyon bird banding station was established on the banks of the Colorado River a little to the left of the part of the stream shown at the bottom of the picture.

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