In last week’s Far Afield, much was made of pikas living in the Columbia River Gorge at extraordinarily low elevations. Living and thriving in quite a different habitat from the alpine-dwelling pikas in high elevations in western mountains of North America.

Frankly, I didn’t do an appropriate literature search looking into those almost sea-level pikas. Turns out the existence of this subpopulation has been quite well known for a century in certain circles. On even a bit of reflection, how could it not?

In fact, this is just the kind of search easily accomplished in the Internet Age. Just what I’d hoped to be able to do on a computer. And just why my failure to master a computer has been such a disappointment. This may be, as a saying goes, a process.

On the other hand, an opportunity for each of us to learn more about pikas in Wyoming’s warming alpine ecosystems is in the works. Two investigators, Embere Hall and Leah Yandow, will make a presentation at 6 p.m. Jan. 15 at Teton County Library. This will be a meeting of the Jackson Hole Bird and Nature Club and will include nature observations and socializing. Free and everyone welcome.

The final compilation of the Jackson Hole Annual Christmas Bird Count in 2013 is in. Susan Marsh reports that 52 participants (quite a jolly bunch) found on Dec. 15 a total of 61 bird species and 3,198 individual birds, plus 13 mammal species. Weather was seasonable and favorable. See results in the box.

A record number of rough-legged hawks, 51, was seen, but there were fewer bald eagles.

Field Notes: Sixty-one bird species in the 2013 Christmas Bird Count in Jackson Hole on Dec. 15, is a good sampling of winter birds. Thirteen mammals is pretty good, too. All in all, a great count. Bully, troops.

Snow cover on the valley floor remains minimal, no doubt one factor for keeping many rough-legged hawks around. Likely too for half a hundred pronghorn that did not migrate last fall. That “decision” may have been very wrong for them.

Kirby Williams is surprised to witness a flock of some 30 sage grouse in north South Park. An unexpected hermit thrush was in Jackson on Jan. 3, Kayla Michael. Flickers, finches, grosbeaks; bring ’em on.

Bert Raynes © 2014

Bert Raynes writes weekly on whatever suits his fancy with a dash of news on nature and its many ways.

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