Washington Land Animal Life

Land animal life is also unusually abundant here. Insects and bugs are relatively few in kind, although the State has its quota of the usual varieties. Outstanding among the invertebrates of eastern Washington are the warrior grasshopper, the coulee cricket, and the locust, and in the coastal regions the various pine-borers. The red ant, with its domelike hill, is common in dry pinewood areas. Most noteworthy of the butterflies is the swallowtail, largest of the western species, with double "tails" on each hind wing. Among the imported pests are the codling moth and the earwig. The tent caterpillar (larval stage of the moth) is often a destructive nuisance in western Washington. Except for the black widow spider, which is found now and then, and the wood tick, carrier in some instances of Rocky Mountain fever, there are no poisonous or disease-bearing insects. Among amphibians, the most numerous are the tree frog and the western wood frog. There are several varieties of the lizard, the salamander, and the toad; the horned toad, however, is rare. Turtles are represented west of the Cascades by the terrapin, and east of the mountains by the western painted turtle. Snakes of various kinds are fairly numerous, notably the garter snake, the bull snake of the pine woods, and, in some parts of eastern Washington, the poisonous rattlesnake.

In the forests and mountains elk, deer, and bear are plentiful, and are frequently seen from the highways traversing timbered areas. Of especial interest is the Roosevelt elk, named in honor of Theodore Roosevelt, which is found within the State only in the Olympic Mountains and the Tatoosh Range. Largest of all wapiti, it is identified by its light color and massive spread of antlers. The mule deer and the Columbian black-tailed deer -- distinguished by its broad flat tail -are familiar to sportsmen. Though more rare, the mountain goat is increasing in number under protective laws.

Larger predatory animals have been almost exterminated by hunters seeking State bounties. The Canadian lynx, red western bobcat, timber wolf, and red fox are seldom seen. The coyote, once widely prevalent, has retreated into the foothills in depleted numbers. Strangely enough, it is the mountain lion or cougar, upon whose head there has long been a price, that remains numerous, though he is encountered only in remote places.

Among lesser native mammals are several species of the shrew, mole, bat, western fisher, and weasel; and racoon, skunk, badger, marten, and mink are plentiful. The beaver, almost exterminated, is now returning. The Washington and Cascade varying hares, the white-tailed rabbit, and that little cave dweller, the cony or rock rabbit, belong to a family of rodents. Strangest of the lesser mammals is the shrew mole, who, combining the features of both shrew and mole but related to neither, has an ancestry going back to some remote Asiatic strain. Other common rodents are the squirrels, chipmunks, woodchucks, porcupine, and gophers. Several are of special interest: the mantled ground squirrel, the Cascade flying squirrel, the strange mountain beaver (not a beaver), who burrows in wet hillsides and is found only in the western part of Washington and Oregon; and the largest of the rodents, the marmot, noted for his whistling.

As might be expected in such an extensively wooded region, perching birds are numerically great, constituting two-fifths of the entire bird life. Members of this order are, in general, small in size, with the exception of the raven. The 18 familes represented include the crow, blackbird, and sparrow, as well as many colorful birds and attractive singers: the tanager, warbler, lark, pipit, thrush, kinglet, titmouse, creeper, wren and thrasher, dipper, swallow, waxwing, shrike, vireo, and flycatcher. The crows are the most intelligent of this group; the chattering sparrows, particularly the gambrel sparrow, is the most often seen; and the golden-crowned kinglet is the most numerous. Among curious birds are the chat, the great mimic; and such finely costumed creatures as the lazuli bunting, the western tanager, the rare purple martin, the violet-green swallow and the crested gray-brown waxwing, the dainty water ouzel, and the rough-winged swallow with hooked wingtips. The most tuneful songbirds are the western lark, the blackheaded grosbeak, the gold warbler with his silken black Cap, and Audubon's warbler. Washington has chosen the willow goldfinch as its State bird.

Most of the perching birds are hardy. The varied thrush particularly loves the rain; the wren, kinglet, bushtit, chickadee, and Sitkan kinglet are evident in flurried throngs throughout the winter.

Weak feet and powerful wings mark the insect eaters, such as the swifts and the humming birds. Gaudy as are all the hummers, the most resplendent is the calliope with its emerald-green back and rose or purple gorget. Though less colorful, the swifts are extraordinarily graceful in flight.

The brilliant red coloration of the climbers and their unmistakable tapping play a vivid part in the chorus of the woods; they vary in size from a species no bigger than a sparrow to one as large as a robin. The Harris's woodpecker, black and white of head, with body of scarlet and gray, is perhaps the most beautiful. The white-headed and the pileated woodpeckers are rare.

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