Western White Pine

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Western white pine (Pinus monticola) was once  broadly distributed throughout the Northern Rockies, California, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. In 1910 a shipment of nursery stock to Vancouver BC from France introduced white pine blister rust to the Pacific Northwest … Continue reading

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American Marten

American Marten

American Marten

While hiking along the Kings Creek Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park (CA), Leonard and I noticed several tracks crossing the dry dust of the trail. We speculated that the prints might be those of an American marten (Martes americana), but were uncertain. I saw a marten only once, many years ago at Medicine Lake (Siskiyou County CA). Before long we did see a marten. I was very excited. The marten moved so quickly I barely had time to lift my camera before it was out of sight. Shooting without focusing and using the wrong lens, I managed to get a poor picture of this carnivore.

Martens inhabit mostly isolated areas in deep coniferous forests or large rock-slides in high mountains. They are widely distributed throughout much of Alaska, Canada, New England, the Rockies, the Sierras and the Coastal Mountains of the West Coast.

There are at least fourteen subspecies of American martens. Slightly larger than a grey squirrel, martens have brown fur, a bushy cylindrical tail, short legs, five toes on each foot and large cat-like ears. The fur at the throat is orangish-yellow while the feet and tip of the tail are blackish. In winter, the underfoot is so covered in hair that the toe pads do not show.

Martens can climb trees as well as squirrels and are often mistaken for squirrels. They prey on Douglas tree squirrels and a variety of other small rodents. In addition they eat insects, fish, pine nuts, berries (ash, blueberries, Oregon grape, and Ribus species, among others) and carrion. Martens will bury their excess food.

Females choose dens in tree cavities or in rocky banks, occasionally underground. Breeding takes place in mid-summer. Embryonic implantation is delayed until late winter. After about a month of active gestation, one to five kits are born in late March or April. The young are weaned after 42 days and emerge from the den at about 50 days. The kits will remain with the mother until the end of the first summer.

American martens are also commonly called pine martens, American pine martens or simply martens.

Seeing an American marten was an added bonus to a hike on a lovely autumn day.


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Female Vermilion Flycatcher

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Compared to the showy male vermilion flycatcher, the female of this polytypic species is rather drab. (See Male Vermilion Flycatcher 09-21-16) Female vermilion flycatchers (Pyrocephalus rubinis) are greyish brown above with a dark tail. The undersides are a buffy white, … Continue reading

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Male Vermilion Flycatcher

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I was so excited to see a a male vermilion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinis) at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. Even though this small passerine was not a cooperative model, I still want to share the less than optimal … Continue reading

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Bewick’s Wren

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Although they are monotypic (males and females look alike), Bewick’s wrens show lots of variation in plumage. There are 10 subspecies in the United States and 5 more subspecies in Mexico. These small wrens are generally brown grey to rufous … Continue reading

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Prostrate Spurge

This gallery contains 8 photos.

I have always called this plant “spurge”.  An annual native,  spurge is found in open and disturbed areas throughout all of the United States and much of Canada. A prolific seed producer, spurge becomes a problem along walkways and roadways … Continue reading

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Sooty Dancer

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Sooty dancers (Argia lugens) are usually found near moving water. They perch on rocks, driftwood, branches or the ground. I found these specimens sitting on scrap wood at a friends’ house near the Pit River north of Lookout CA (Modoc … Continue reading

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