North Cascades National Park Wildlife Tracking Certification

The right front foot of a mink (Neovison vison) in fine glacial silt found close to the mouth of Thunder Creek.

The right front foot of a mink (Neovison vison) in fine glacial silt found close to the mouth of Thunder Creek.

In mid-June North Cascades Institute hosted the first Wildlife Tracking Certification Event in North Cascades National Park. Besides a diversity of tracks and signs some challenging field conditions including some classic North Cascades rain and multi-element bushwacking/wading added to the experience for myself as the evaluator and for participants! Here are a few of the highlights from the Evaluation.

These tracks of a Douglas squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) were found just down the shore from the mink.

These tracks of a Douglas squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) were found just down the shore from the mink.

This unusual sign of a beaver (Castor canadensis) in the riparian forest along Thunder Creek stumped many.

This unusual sign of a beaver (Castor canadensis) in the riparian forest along Thunder Creek stumped many.

Roger Bean, who earned a Level III Track and Sign Certification contemplates the beaver feeding sign during the evaluation.

Roger Bean, who earned a Level III Track and Sign Certification contemplates the beaver feeding sign during the evaluation.

The weathered track of a black bear (Ursus americanus).

The weathered track of a black bear (Ursus americanus).

Terry Kem, founder of Deerdance, earned a Level III Cerftication as well on the evaluation, seen here photographing a sign post tree well used by black bears along Thunder Creek.

Terry Kem, founder of Deerdance, earned a Level III Cerftication as well on the evaluation, seen here photographing a sign post tree well used by black bears along Thunder Creek.

Moose (Alces alces) are rarely sighted in western portion of the North Cascades, but these pellets indicate one had passed by the Easy Pass Trailhead along the North Cascades Scenic Highway.

Moose (Alces alces) are rarely sighted in western portion of the North Cascades, but these pellets indicate one had passed by the Easy Pass Trailhead along the North Cascades Scenic Highway.

Scat from a bushytailed woodrat (left, Neotoma cinerea) and a pika (Ochotona princeps) were both discovered in a large talus field.

Scat from a bushytailed woodrat (left, Neotoma cinerea) and a pika (Ochotona princeps) were both discovered in a large talus field.

Susan Brown, a graduate student in the North Cascades Institutes Masters of Education program, assisted with the evaluation. Pictured here by a powerline pole that had been bitten and rubbed on by black bears.   

Susan Brown, a graduate student in the North Cascades Institutes Masters of Education program, assisted with the evaluation. Pictured here by a powerline pole that had been bitten and rubbed on by black bears.

 

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Evaluation. Of 10 participants, 3 Level III , 3 Level II , and one Level I certificates were awarded. For a list of certified trackers in North America click here.

Cybertracker Conservation Track and Sign Certification Event in the Swan Valley, Montana

Senior Tracker and Evaluator Mark Elbroch points out some of the finer details of a track during a discussion of one of the questions on the Evaluation.

Senior Tracker and Evaluator Mark Elbroch points out some of the finer details of a track during a discussion of one of the questions on the Evaluation.

Congratulations to all 11 folks who participated in the Track and Sign Certification Event in wild Swan Valley of northwestern Montana this past weekend, all of whom earned a certificate through Cybertracker Conservation!The event was hosted by Northwest Connections in the very quiet town of Condon. It was great getting to know more about this creative and inspiring organizaiton whose mission to "Integrate Science, Education and Community in the Conservation of Rural Working Landscapes". I highly recommend any and all of the various educational opportunities they have to offer and hope to be back there soon! A special thanks also to Nick Sharp, Wildlife Conservation Society Biologist, and Doctoral student at the University of Montana, who organized the event (and put in a stellar performance on the Evaluation!)Over the course of the two days of the Evaluation, participants were given 70 different questions about tracks and signs discovered in the field. Species varied from voles to grizzly bears and the handiwork of everything from a bushytailed woodrat to a backhoe. Along with covering as diverse a set of tracks and signs as is possible over two days, the evaluation includes questions ranging from very simple (such as a clear deer track) to very challenging (such as interpreting the behavior of an elk which had scraped bark off of the trunk of an aspen with its incisors). For more information on Cybertracker Conservation Wildlife Tracking Evaluation methods click here.

Senior Tracker Brian McConnell, who assisted in delivering the evaluation, points out one of the questions, marks on an aspen tree to Adam Lieberg, Conservation Program Program Coordinator at Northwest Connections. Adam correctly interpreted them to be made by a black bear which had climbed the tree.

Senior Tracker Brian McConnell, who assisted in delivering the evaluation, points out one of the questions, marks on an aspen tree to Adam Lieberg, Conservation Program Program Coordinator at Northwest Connections. Adam correctly interpreted them to be made by a black bear which had climbed the tree.

Here are photos of some of the things that were on the Evaluation and the questions about them. All questions are based on actual tracks and signs discovered in the field by evaluators during the Evaluation. After all of the participants have the opportunity to answer each question, the track or sign is discussed as a group and the evaluators carefully explain the correct answer and discuss why it could or could not be various other species, often using illustrations and other resources to help illustrate key features.

What species and which foot? Front and hind tracks of a red fox.

What species and which foot? Front and hind tracks of a red fox.

What species, which foot, and what was the sex of this animal? The left hind foot of a female mountain lion

What species, which foot, and what was the sex of this animal? The left hind foot of a female mountain lion

What species (in regards to the lower tracks)? The front and hind foot of a wolf (above are the track of a whitetailed deer).

What species (in regards to the lower tracks)? The front and hind foot of a wolf (above are the track of a whitetailed deer).

What happened to these shrubs? Tim Nelson inspects the work of a buck deer which left these marks on a serviceberry shrub with its antlers the previous fall, a marking behavior associated with courtship and breeding activities.

What happened to these shrubs? Tim Nelson inspects the work of a buck deer which left these marks on a serviceberry shrub with its antlers the previous fall, a marking behavior associated with courtship and breeding activities.

Who removed the bark from this burl on a lodgepole pine? From left to right, Track and Sign Specialist Matt Nelson, Mark Elbroch, Preston Taylor and Adam Lieberg discuss a contentious question, a burl on a lodgepole pine which had been debarked by a red squirrel

Who removed the bark from this burl on a lodgepole pine? From left to right, Track and Sign Specialist Matt Nelson, Mark Elbroch, Preston Taylor and Adam Lieberg discuss a contentious question, a burl on a lodgepole pine which had been debarked by a red squirrel

Who left this track? The weathered footprint of a grizzly bear.

Who left this track? The weathered footprint of a grizzly bear.

Mark and Jenn Wolfe discuss one of the harder questions on the evaluation, the identity of a jawbone found in the field–in this case a wolf! Mandibles were not in short supply, and the striped skunk and black bear jawbone were also questions on the Evaluation.

Mark and Jenn Wolfe discuss one of the harder questions on the evaluation, the identity of a jawbone found in the field–in this case a wolf! Mandibles were not in short supply, and the striped skunk and black bear jawbone were also questions on the Evaluation.

Who made this hole? A foraging badger.

Who made this hole? A foraging badger.

Congratulations to everyone who participated and earned a certificate at the event!

Congratulations to everyone who participated and earned a certificate at the event!

Interested in participating in a Certification Event or hosting one? Find a list of future events I am running at davidmoskowitz.net. Our North American website for all Tracking Certification events is currently underconstruction. Send me an email if you want to discuss details on hosting an event or links to Certification Events in other parts of the country!

Wolf Tracking In Wisconsin

Front track of an adult Wisconsin wolf.

Front track of an adult Wisconsin wolf.

Just home from a week and a half of adventuring in northern Wisconsin where I participated in a collaboration between Teaching Drum Outdoor School and Wilderness Awareness School on Wisconsin Wolf Tracking Expedition, joined by former Wilderness Awareness School Instructor and founder of the Earth Native Wilderness School, David Scott. Teaching Drum hosted the program which was held very close to the School's home base near the town of Three Lakes, Wisconsin. Despite unseasonably warm conditions on several of the days and a lack of fresh snow for the first half of the class, snow conditions allowed us to peice together some amazing stories about the wolves of the region and the other wildlife that share the North Woods with them.

My coinstructor, and founder of the Earth Native Wilderness School, David Scott, inspects the recent scent marking activity of a wolf under a large hemlock tree just off of a forest service road in the Nicolet National Forest.

My coinstructor, and founder of the Earth Native Wilderness School, David Scott, inspects the recent scent marking activity of a wolf under a large hemlock tree just off of a forest service road in the Nicolet National Forest.

David Scott and Teaching Drum staff member Chris Bean discuss the home range of the Giant Pine Pack which the class spent several days tracking.

David Scott and Teaching Drum staff member Chris Bean discuss the home range of the Giant Pine Pack which the class spent several days tracking.

Prior to the start of the program, Teaching Drum founder Tamarack Song took David Scott and I out to visit the folks participating in the rigorous 11 month long Wilderness Guides Program.

Prior to the start of the program, Teaching Drum founder Tamarack Song took David Scott and I out to visit the folks participating in the rigorous 11 month long Wilderness Guides Program.

The participants in the Wilderness Guides Program invited us into their sleeping shelter, where they are weathering the snow and subzero temperatures of northern Wisconsin in relative comfort.

The participants in the Wilderness Guides Program invited us into their sleeping shelter, where they are weathering the snow and subzero temperatures of northern Wisconsin in relative comfort.

The outside of their winter quarters.

The outside of their winter quarters.

Tamarack Song looks on as one of the Guides in training works an elk hide on the frozen lake by their winter camp.

Tamarack Song looks on as one of the Guides in training works an elk hide on the frozen lake by their winter camp.

Tracks of a fisher bounding into the forest. Fisher sign was relatively common in many of the locations I visited while in the area.

Tracks of a fisher bounding into the forest. Fisher sign was relatively common in many of the locations I visited while in the area.

Participants in the Wolf Tracking Expedition inspect the scat left behind by a large fisher.

Participants in the Wolf Tracking Expedition inspect the scat left behind by a large fisher.

Front track of a wolf found on the program.

Front track of a wolf found on the program.

Conservation Biologist and wolf researcher Ron Schultz shared tracking tips and stories from his years of field work capturing and collaring wolves in the area.

Conservation Biologist and wolf researcher Ron Schultz shared tracking tips and stories from his years of field work capturing and collaring wolves in the area.

Teaching Drum staff member Leah Moss inspects a set of fisher tracks.

Teaching Drum staff member Leah Moss inspects a set of fisher tracks.

Tracker Randell Westfall inspects the cavity created by an excavated cache of deer meat made by a wolf.

Tracker Randell Westfall inspects the cavity created by an excavated cache of deer meat made by a wolf.

Wilderness Awareness School meets Teaching Drum in the North Woods.   

Wilderness Awareness School meets Teaching Drum in the North Woods.

 

Do mink (Neovison vison) have webbed feet?

Left front foot.

Left front foot.

While researching and writing my field guide I encountered various published accounts of the foot structure of mink (Neovison vison). Because of these discrepancies I sought out specimens to examine personally. I examined the feet of 3 recently deceased mink, all from western Washington as well as about a dozen museum skins at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington. All of the green specimins I examined showed mesial webbing on both front and hind feet. Some of the museum skins did as well, while others where dried in such a way so as to make analysis of this impossible. None of the green specimins or museum skins were clearly lacking webbing between toes. The amount of webbing is slightly less than in their larger cousins, river otters (Lutra canadensis) but is none the less quite clear. As is typical with the tracks of most web-footed animals, webbing can be detected in footprints in deep substrates but is often not apparent where substrate is firmer.The photos of actual feet bellow are from a male mink which was killed by a vehicle in the Snoqualmie River Valley, King County, Washington in 2009.

Left front foot with toes splayed showing mesial webbing between toes.

Left front foot with toes splayed showing mesial webbing between toes.

Hind feet.

Hind feet.

Toes splayed on hind foot revealing webbing.

Toes splayed on hind foot revealing webbing.

Top view of a hind foot also showing webbing.

Top view of a hind foot also showing webbing.

All four tracks of a mink in a typical loping pattern for the species. In this deep substrate the webbing between the toes has registered. Tracks from along the Snohomish River, Snohomish County, Washington.

All four tracks of a mink in a typical loping pattern for the species. In this deep substrate the webbing between the toes has registered. Tracks from along the Snohomish River, Snohomish County, Washington.

Closer view of two tracks (left hind on top of left front) from the same set of tracks as above.

Closer view of two tracks (left hind on top of left front) from the same set of tracks as above.

Tracks a small (likely female) mink from along the Yakima River in Kittatas County, Washington, also in a typical loping pattern. In this firmer substrate the mesial webbing has not registered.

Tracks a small (likely female) mink from along the Yakima River in Kittatas County, Washington, also in a typical loping pattern. In this firmer substrate the mesial webbing has not registered.

Clayoquot Sound, B.C.

Wolf tracks along west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Wolf tracks along west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Bald eagle above a foggy forest.

Bald eagle above a foggy forest.

Carcass of juvenile humpback whale on beach of island in Clayoquot Sound

Carcass of juvenile humpback whale on beach of island in Clayoquot Sound

Racoon foraging for sand flees on beach of island in Sound

Racoon foraging for sand flees on beach of island in Sound

Black-tailed deer feeding on seaweed on island in Clayoquot Sound.

Black-tailed deer feeding on seaweed on island in Clayoquot Sound.

River otter scent marking on seaweed as tide goes out.

River otter scent marking on seaweed as tide goes out.

Black bear foraging for invertebrates in the intertidal zone by rolling rocks.

Black bear foraging for invertebrates in the intertidal zone by rolling rocks.

Large Sitka spruce in ancient forest on island in the Sound.

Large Sitka spruce in ancient forest on island in the Sound.

A gray wolf trots along the beach early in the morning with ravens in the background. West Coast, Vancouver Island.

A gray wolf trots along the beach early in the morning with ravens in the background. West Coast, Vancouver Island.

Tofino Inlet, Clayoquot Sound.

Tofino Inlet, Clayoquot Sound.

Harbor seals lounging at low tide.

Harbor seals lounging at low tide.

Atlantic salmon fish farm in Clayoquot Sound with uncut forest in background. Several rivers with no clearcuts or roads in them are seeing massive declines in salmon numbers due to sea lice and other issues associated with fish farming in the Sound. The smell is overwhelming, far worse than a dairy farm and totally shocking in such a wild setting.

Atlantic salmon fish farm in Clayoquot Sound with uncut forest in background. Several rivers with no clearcuts or roads in them are seeing massive declines in salmon numbers due to sea lice and other issues associated with fish farming in the Sound. The smell is overwhelming, far worse than a dairy farm and totally shocking in such a wild setting.

Active clearcut logging in Clayquot Sound. Top of the photo is uncut oldgrowth. Bottom is regrowth from a previous clearcut.

Active clearcut logging in Clayquot Sound. Top of the photo is uncut oldgrowth. Bottom is regrowth from a previous clearcut.

Growth rings: over 200. Destination: ?

Growth rings: over 200. Destination: ?

Huge western red ceder stump set amidst second growth forest of planted Douglas firs. Note that the original nurse log that the ceder tree started growing on in still under the stump, attesting to the volume of biomass in the previous ancient forest and the literally centuries it took to create the structural diversity so important to many Old growth obligate species.

Huge western red ceder stump set amidst second growth forest of planted Douglas firs. Note that the original nurse log that the ceder tree started growing on in still under the stump, attesting to the volume of biomass in the previous ancient forest and the literally centuries it took to create the structural diversity so important to many Old growth obligate species.

Despite decades of conservation efforts, Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve,  faces numerous severe threats to its ecological integrity including clear cut logging of roadless old growth forests, industrial Atlantic salmon fish farms, and proposed open-pit copper mining. Learn more about the region and how you can support conservation in the region at the following websites:Friends of Clayoquot Sound Clayoquot Biosphere Reserve First Nations Environmental Network

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Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest

WILDLIFE OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST Tracking and Identifying Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, and Invertebrates

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written, photographed, and illustrated byDAVID MOSKOWITZ

A TIMBER PRESSS FIELD GUIDE

SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE ON APRIL 28, 2010

Now available. Purchase your copy through www.davidmoskowitz.net and support the author and the educational mission of Wilderness Awareness School!

Wild animals fascinate, yet are rarely seen. It is possible, though — if you know what to look for and where, and if you understand what you see — to increase your chances of wildlife sightings, whether you are far from civilization or right in your own backyard. Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest includes illustrated descriptions for more than 180 mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates most common in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, northern California, Idaho, and western Montana. With more than 460 photographs, hundreds of scale drawings, and more than 90 distribution maps, it belongs in every pack and is a must-have for nature lovers of all ages and skill levels.

David Moskowitz, a professional wildlife tracker, photographer, and outdoor educator, has been studying wildlife and tracking in the Pacific Northwest since 1995. He has contributed his technical expertise to a wide variety of wildlife studies regionally and in the Canadian and U.S. Rocky mountains, focusing on using tracking and other non-invasive methods to study wildlife ecology and promote conservation. David has worked on projects studying rare forest carnivores, wolves, elk, Caspian terns, desert plant ecology, and trophic cascades. He helped establish the Cascade Citizens Wildlife Monitoring Project, a citizen science effort to search for and monitor rare and sensitive wildlife in the Cascades and other Northwest wildlands. David’s extensive experience as an outdoor educator includes training mountaineering instructors for Outward Bound, leading wilderness expeditions throughout the western United States and in Alaska, teaching natural history seminars, and as the lead instructor for wildlife tracking programs at Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, Washington. David holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and outdoor education from Prescott College. View his photography and find out about classes at www.davidmoskowitz.net.

Paperback Flexibind
Pages: 364 pp. 
Images: 464 color photos, 213 line drawings and 93 maps 

Tracks In Snow, Winter 2009-2010

American marten (Martes americana)left hind track. North Cascades, Washington.

American marten (Martes americana)left hind track. North Cascades, Washington.

Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)hind track. Northern Rockies, Montana.

Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)hind track. Northern Rockies, Montana.

Mountain lion (Puma concolor)left front track. Northern Rockies, Montana.

Mountain lion (Puma concolor)left front track. Northern Rockies, Montana.

Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis)left front below left hind tracks. Northern Rockies, Montana.

Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis)left front below left hind tracks. Northern Rockies, Montana.

Moose (Alces alces)hind track. Northern Rockies, Montana.

Moose (Alces alces)hind track. Northern Rockies, Montana.

Wolf Tracking in the Salmon River Mountains, Idaho

The landscape, typical of the mountains of central Idaho shows conifer forests, dominated by lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) in various stages of regeneration after naturally occuring fires. Interspersed are large wet and dry meadow systems.

The landscape, typical of the mountains of central Idaho shows conifer forests, dominated by lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) in various stages of regeneration after naturally occuring fires. Interspersed are large wet and dry meadow systems.

Don Taves inspects the trail of a wolf trotting down a dirt road.

Don Taves inspects the trail of a wolf trotting down a dirt road.

The right front foot of a large wolf. The toes have splayed widely and the claws of each digit have dug in deeply, including in the reduced inside toe due to the fast speed of this animal. The bounding trail of this wolf was adjacent to the trail of two fleeing mule deer indicating a pursuit (apparently unsuccessful for the wolf).

The right front foot of a large wolf. The toes have splayed widely and the claws of each digit have dug in deeply, including in the reduced inside toe due to the fast speed of this animal. The bounding trail of this wolf was adjacent to the trail of two fleeing mule deer indicating a pursuit (apparently unsuccessful for the wolf).

A pine marten (Martes americana) peers down from a safe perch.

A pine marten (Martes americana) peers down from a safe perch.

Sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) in flight. Cranes breed and rear young in the vast wet meadow systems of central Idaho.

Sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) in flight. Cranes breed and rear young in the vast wet meadow systems of central Idaho.

Columbian ground squirrels (Spermophilus columbianus) at a burrow.

Columbian ground squirrels (Spermophilus columbianus) at a burrow.

Rocky mountain elk (Cervus elaphus)

Rocky mountain elk (Cervus elaphus)

Students in Wilderness Awareness School’s Idaho Wolf Tracking Expedition hiking out across Corduroy meadows at the southern end of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness towards the end of a long day in the field searching for and following wolf tracks and signs.

Students in Wilderness Awareness School’s Idaho Wolf Tracking Expedition hiking out across Corduroy meadows at the southern end of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness towards the end of a long day in the field searching for and following wolf tracks and signs.

A Northern Pocket Gopher (Thomomys talpoides) Hard at Work.

The gopher had just begun to expell earth when I discovered him hard at work.

The gopher had just begun to expell earth when I discovered him hard at work.

The exposed gopher quickly pushes soil out of his hole and then retreats back to a safer position to observe its surroundings.

The exposed gopher quickly pushes soil out of his hole and then retreats back to a safer position to observe its surroundings.

The completed throw mound with the hole plugged at the base of it. Throw mounds are produced in the process of creating underground tunnels the pocket gopher uses for accessing food (roots and vegetation), as well as sleeping chambers, food storage spaces, and latrines.

The completed throw mound with the hole plugged at the base of it. Throw mounds are produced in the process of creating underground tunnels the pocket gopher uses for accessing food (roots and vegetation), as well as sleeping chambers, food storage spaces, and latrines.

The finished throw mound with the tent I was staying in the background.

The finished throw mound with the tent I was staying in the background.

Pocket gophers are prodigious soil movers. Though seldom seen, the throw mounds they create are conspicuous in areas they inhabit. Mounds are often confused with those produced by moles. However, as seen here, gophers produce fan shaped mounds expelling dirt from a hole to one side of the mound of soil which is plugged afterwards. Moles expel earth from a hole which come straight up out of the ground and the resulting mound of soil is generally evenly dispersed to all sides of the plugged hole when complete.I had the opportunity to photograph this creature while it worked right in the middle of where I was camped and could thus leisurely photograph and drink a cup of tea as the sun rose one May morning in Western Colorado over the course of an hour, an unusual pleasure while photographing elusive wild creatures.

Western Colorado: Aspen forests and Wildlife of the High Lonesome Ranch

Aspen stand at about 8500′ elevation on the western edge of the Rocky mountains

Aspen stand at about 8500′ elevation on the western edge of the Rocky mountains

Aspen stand with bear climbing marks and elk cambium feeding scars on trees in the foreground. Many aspen stands in the southern Rockies are dying for reasons that are not yet totally clear. Aspen stands are generally comprised of one or a few individual organisms (called “Clones”) each of which sends up multiple trunks. About half of the mature trunks in the patch are dead.

Aspen stand with bear climbing marks and elk cambium feeding scars on trees in the foreground. Many aspen stands in the southern Rockies are dying for reasons that are not yet totally clear. Aspen stands are generally comprised of one or a few individual organisms (called “Clones”) each of which sends up multiple trunks. About half of the mature trunks in the patch are dead.

Entrance and throw-mound of a bear den found on a steep forested northwest facing slope close to a ridge line at about 8200′ elevation.

Entrance and throw-mound of a bear den found on a steep forested northwest facing slope close to a ridge line at about 8200′ elevation.

Close up of the internal chamber of the den. The den was only about 4′ deep

Close up of the internal chamber of the den. The den was only about 4′ deep

Dewitt Daggett gets a close look at the den.

Dewitt Daggett gets a close look at the den.

Rocky mountain elk at sunrise with stunted aspen in the background.

Rocky mountain elk at sunrise with stunted aspen in the background.

Incisor marks from an elk feeding on the bark of an aspen. Barking of aspens by elk can have extensive impacts on aspen stands. Along with the bark, elk, deer and cattle also feed on the branch tips of saplings stunting their growth and retarding recruitment of young trees where browsing pressure is intense.

Incisor marks from an elk feeding on the bark of an aspen. Barking of aspens by elk can have extensive impacts on aspen stands. Along with the bark, elk, deer and cattle also feed on the branch tips of saplings stunting their growth and retarding recruitment of young trees where browsing pressure is intense.

A red-naped sapsucker paused from excavating a new cavity in a dead aspen tree. Cavities excavated by woodpeckers are used by a wide variety of other birds and mammals as nests once abandoned by the woodpecker.

A red-naped sapsucker paused from excavating a new cavity in a dead aspen tree. Cavities excavated by woodpeckers are used by a wide variety of other birds and mammals as nests once abandoned by the woodpecker.

A female Purple Martin looking out from its nest cavity in a standing dead aspen tree. In this same tree was also a nest cavity being used by a house wren.

A female Purple Martin looking out from its nest cavity in a standing dead aspen tree. In this same tree was also a nest cavity being used by a house wren.

Female and male Purple Martins courting close to their nest cavity.

Female and male Purple Martins courting close to their nest cavity.

Female collecting dead aspen bark to line her nest cavity.

Female collecting dead aspen bark to line her nest cavity.

Mule deer resting in the shade of a Douglas fir during the midday heat.

Mule deer resting in the shade of a Douglas fir during the midday heat.

Large scrape made by a mountain lion under a large Douglas fir at along a ridge. This scrape has been visited and enlarged over repeated visits by the cat. Scrapes such as these are a scent marking behavior performed by both bobcats and cougars.

Large scrape made by a mountain lion under a large Douglas fir at along a ridge. This scrape has been visited and enlarged over repeated visits by the cat. Scrapes such as these are a scent marking behavior performed by both bobcats and cougars.

Looking northwest across the western edge of the Rocky Mountains at sunset.

Looking northwest across the western edge of the Rocky Mountains at sunset.

Sunset and aspens

Sunset and aspens

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