Findings of Fine Fauna

I’ve been living outside in Washington State, and more recently Idaho, for about six weeks, after a lifetime east of the Mississippi. There has been a lot of necessary adjustment and acclimation and there have been new animals to meet and many familiar faces among the fields, hedge rows, and forest.

Right up front, let me simply start with a list of animals I’ve come across, some on day one, which are also very familiar to western Pennsylvanians:

  • Gray squirrel
  • Red squirrel
  • Beaver
  • Cottontail rabbit
  • Coyote
  • White-tailed deer
  • Fox squirrel
  • Striped skunk
  • Elk
  • Black bear
  • Song sparrow
  • Ruby-throated hummingbird
  • Crow
  • Raven
  • Robin
  • Red-winged blackbird
  • Cormorant
  • Kingfisher
  • Chickadee – At least two species, one of which appears the same as our Pennsylvanian variety.
  • Creeper
  • Nuthatch
  • Bald eagle
  • Osprey
  • Mallard
  • Canada geese
  • Pileated woodpecker
  • Great blue heron
  • Red-tailed hawk
  • Kestrel
  • Garter snake

A couple more general notes: The cross-section of northern Washington State I walked had less spiders, dragonflies, turtles, snakes, and toads than western Pennsylvania. I was fairly close to Canada most of the time and often fairly high up though. It may have been too early for some of these. It was really a surprise to find so many familiar animals across the continent.

More interesting, I think, is the list of animals new to me:

  • A reddish-gray squirrel I can’t identify that has been present from the Pacific Ocean to Idaho
  • Black-tailed deer – Difficult for me to distinguish from white-tailed.
  • Seals – Not able to identify any more specifically.
  • Wolves – Came close one night and howled, remaining unseen.
  • Varying hare
  • Marmot – “Chirpin’ woodchucks” was later revised to “marmots.”
  • Jackrabbit
  • Longhorn sheep – Probably the most impressive animal I’ve found out here.
  • Chipmunk – Not quite the same animal as our eastern chipmunk but just as plentiful.
  • Varieties of mice never seen in the east
  • Ground squirrel
  • Long-tailed weasel
  • A new variety of seagull
  • New sparrows
  • New variety of loon
  • New hummingbirds
  • New woodpeckers
  • Kite
  • New swallows
  • California quail
  • Chukar
  • Unspecified desert hawk
  • A western variety of turkey
  • Magpie
  • Tiny northwestern crabs, limpets, and barnacles
  • New types of clams
  • An iridescent green tree frog
  • Alligator lizard
  • Sagebrush lizard
  • Rubber boa
  • Diamondback rattlesnake
  • Gopher snake

In some ways I guess I’ve evolved little since the age of eight. There’s my list of animals. It’s a pretty good start. I wonder if there’s more to be discovered between Idaho and Pennsylvania. At least I haven’t felt compelled to draw a diagram of each for you in Crayon.

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