Yellow Spring

We can always tell when Spring has “officially” arrived at our home. The Washington State bird calls out the arrival. The Willow Goldfinch or American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) is a bright yellow bird that was legislatively declared the winner of official state bird in 1951 after 30 years of debates.

Male Goldfinch

Female Goldfinch

The Goldfinch was selected over another spring bird the Western Tanager.

Male Western Tanager

As these birds arrive in our yard we know that the season has changed from winter’s last grasp to the warming arms of spring. The bright flecks of yellow in the yard is why we view it a “yellow spring.”

Male Goldfinch faces the setting sun



Mount Rainier Fox

It has been a while since I last posted anything. Life has been very busy, especially with the birth of my grand-daughter.

Over the past weekend I headed to Mount Rainier for a breakfast with other park volunteers. It had been nearly two months since I was last at the park. Arriving the drive reminded me of why this is such a special place. The road to Longmire and Paradise allowed the park to display its many faces. The deep green rain forest had a mist that dripped shards of light from the giant cedars. Light danced in the trees as the sun broke through the clouds at different turns. Snow was falling as one approached the Paradise area. One could not see the mountain on this day from Paradise as the clouds and snow created a blanket of thick mist.

One other aspect of the park is its wildlife. Sadly, due to decades of visitors feeding them, many of them have become habituated to humans. They meet you on the roads and trails looking for handouts. Just below Barn Flats area was one of the Rainier Cascade Foxes approaching the road.

Cascade Fox (Vulpes vulpes cascadensis)

Cars began slowing and I noticed one open the window and offer the fox food. I approached and asked the passengers to not endanger this precious animal. Most people think they are helping the fox survive when actually they are endangering them. As animals get dependent on humans providing food they lose their natural instincts for hunting on their own. Then they have to “beg” along the roads. Recently one fox was killed by a car as it was begging. The fox was habituated to vehicles and lost its life as a result.

Awaiting the next food source

Mount Rainier currently has a research project in place to assess the impact from visitors on the Cascade foxes. Mason Reid, Wildlife Ecologist at the park, noted in the news release on the project that “Mount Rainier has had a persistent problem with people continually feeding the foxes.” The project will evaluate the “behavioral responses of the foxes to this illegal and damaging practice.” Hopefully the project will lead develop better ways of protecting the foxes.

Cascade Fox in Mount Rainier National Park

Hopefully we can all keep wildlife wild and instead enjoy the beauty of nature.

Christine Falls in Black & White