Ranger Headquarters

Ranger Headquarters
Big Pine National Forest, Knotty Pine

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Smallest Wild Area Residents Hikes

Rangers Gray Wolf and Stumpy Jenkins will be leading hikes throughout the summer to highlight little-known aspects of Big Pine National Forest. The rangers are excited to share some of the smallest residents of the Shady Mountains. Two of their favorite little residents are pikas and calliope hummingbirds.

Gray Wolf says that the pika is a small hamster-like animal related to the rabbit and hare. The pika is roughly three-quarters of an inch long with a one-eighth inch long tail. It's ears are short and rounded. Also called coney or rock rabbit, the pika lives in between and under rock fields above the tree line This means that Gray Wolf will be taking hikers on a high-altitude walk up the Shady Mountains to hunt these small mountain farmers. Yes, farmers. Pikas are most easily found by locating their haystacks. Pikas eat grasses, moss, and lichens that grow above the tree line. Pikas cut and stack grasses into haystacks to dry. When dry, pikas bring their haystacks inside their burrows to eat during the winter months. Gray Wolf says that he never tires of watching rock rabbits scamper about cutting and stacking grass into haystacks.

Stumpy and Gray Wolf will also be taking hikers to see the calliope hummingbird on the small mountain residents hikes. The calliope hummingbird is the smallest hummingbird found in North America. Adults weigh only 2.5 to 3 grams. They drink flower nectar and eat small insects. These birds are dark green in color with a white chest. Males have red streak on their necks. Calliopes prefer to build their nests in shrubs that grow along or near streams or highways. They live in the higher elevations of the US and Canada in summer and migrate into Mexico during the winter, often traveling more than 3,000 miles in one direction. Calliopes have been found at elevations at high as 11,000 feet.

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