Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the color on the legs. The tail is seven inches in length, round, and covered with short white hair; like the tail of a pointer dog; the extreme tip, for about an inch, has black hair of about two inches in length. The tail is carried pendant, and not erect, in running.

The metatarsal gland (which in the common deer is about an inch long) is six inches in length and fringed with hair two inches in length. The ears have a line of brownish black on the edge, and are lined with long whitish hair. The horns spread wider, some measuring twenty-four inches between the tips in front, but otherwise have the general form of those of the common deer, but the points are bifurcated ; and sometimes have as many as three and four branches. The hoofs are black, and not so sharp or pointed as the common deer, resembling more in form the hoofs of the Wapiti.

This description is made from specimens in my possession and from those that I have seen on the Plains, and differs somewhat from that of Prof. Baird. I am inclined to think that his description of the hoof was made from a specimen that bad become dry and contracted at the base, or else of a young animal.

This deer is found from the north of New Mexico to the Saskatchewan, and from the Missouri to the Cascade Mountains. Its flesh is very fine eating, esteemed by many superior to that of the common deer.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

THE NATURALIST IN CALIFORNIA.

BY J. G. COOPER, M. D.

[ocr errors]

Los Angelos Plains.- In December, 1860, I found myself at Los Angelos, under orders to report at Fort Mojave, Colorado Valley, as soon as practicable. I therefore started on the fourth, in company with a train of wagons going with supplies to the Fort, mounted on a mule, and well supplied with material for collecting in that little known region.

The southern part of California, even near the coast, was still brown and barren looking from the effects of the long dry season, although some rain had fallen for a month past. There is very little tree growth except along the streams, and most of these sink in the dry season before reaching the sea, so that the nearly level plain bordering the coast for a width of twenty-five miles has a desolate appearance, though it is densely covered with herbage, and in spring puts on a garb of the most beautiful green, varied with myriads of pretty flowers. Already the lower grounds along the river bed are commencing to revive, and flocks of geese (Anser hyperboreus and Bernicla Gambelii) begin to enliven the scene; the Kill-deer ( Ægialitis vociferus), a constant resident where water is permanent, and occasionally flocks of other waders are seen.

But the route leads away from the haunts of these semiaquatic migrants, over the driest part of the plain towards Cajon Pass, and although animals of all kinds are less abundant there now than in the moist spots, they are more distinct from those of the Atlantic States. Ground Squirrels (Spermophilus Beecheyi) abound, their villages occupying every little elevation, and the squirrels themselves, which do not hibernate here, may be seen running in all directions or sitting erect near their burrows, and allowing a very near approach, contident that they can escape under ground from any enemy. But occasionally a Squirrel Hawk (Archibuteo ferrugineus) is seen sitting on the ground devouring one of these audacious burrowers. The White-headed Eagle and various smaller hawks, are also on the watch for these and any other small animals they can catch, such as Gophers (Thomomys umbrinus), Jumping-mice (Dipodomys agilis and Perognathus parvus), Wood-mice (Hesperomys Sonoriensis), Hares (Lepus Californicus and Audubonië), besides such birds as fall in their way.

About the gardens are the omnipresent House Finch (Carpodacus frontalis), the Black Pewee (Sayornis nigricans), Raven and Western Crow (Corvus carnivorus and caurinus). The Western Flicker ( Colaptes Mexicanus) was the only one of its tribe observed in this nearly woodless plain. Large flocks of Gambel's Finch (Zonotrichia Gambelii), and other species, flitted among the hedges, while the Golden-crowned Wren and Audubon's Warbler were the only insectivorous species that could glean a subsistance at this season among the dry willows. The Song Sparrow (Melospiza Heermanni) like its eastern representative enlivens the early morning with an occasional song, while the Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus) and Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) chirrup loudly from the tiled roof or dense thickets. Flocks of Quails (Lophortyx Californicus) become common as we get farther from the town, and the little Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) is often seen sitting sleepily at the mouth of an old squirrel burrow. Meadow Larks and Horned Larks, as well as the little Pipit, are in places on the bare plains as to almost darken the air when they fly, and the curious Mountain Plover (Podasocys montanus) run in scattered flocks over the driest tracts, or wheel in swift columns around the sportsman, their white underparts sometimes shining like snow-flakes as they turn like their more aquatic cousins of the seashore.

Thus it will appear that these plains have a great variety of animals, even as seen in a hasty journey and at a bad

so numerous

season, but nothing very peculiar to this part of the State occurred. Two fine specimens of the Red-tailed Black Hawk (Buteo calurus) would not allow of a very near approach, and the first specimen collected was a Cassin's Kingbird (Tyrannus vociferans), which I could scarcely believe a winter resident, although I have since found it to be so, even as far north as Santa Cruz, while its closely allied relative, the T. verticalis, leaves the State entirely in winter.

Approaching the mountains at Cajon Pass, extensive thickets of shrubbery, with occasional low trees, give promise of a new and more varied fauna in the spring, but at this season few animals were seen besides those mentioned. A Coyoté (Canis latrans) dogged our steps in hopes of some scraps to be left at camp, and at night the dismal barking howl of these animals was our constant serenade. Nests of the Wood-rat (Neotoma Mexicana) were common, consisting of twigs, bark, etc., piled up three or four feet high among the bushes.

Hares became so numerous that I saw more than twenty during the day while riding along the road, and a new bird appeared in pairs, or small families, running on the ground with much the appearance of Snow-birds. This was Bell's Finch (Poospiza Bellii), one of the more southern group. I

( also shot a black-tailed Gnat Catcher (Polioptila melanura), the most peculiar of the three allied species found in this State, which was hopping among the low bushes, scolding like a wren.

The weather here was warm and pleasant by day, but frosty at night. Insects were scarce, and I searched in vain for mollusca, though several fine snails are found on the neighboring mountains where limestone abounds. As I am, however, only giving my observations on that particular journey, I omit for the present to mention these and many higher animals, which I have since found to be inhabitants of the same region.

Large groups of Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia), seen at a

« AnteriorContinuar »