Sept., 1910 AN IRRIGATED RANCH IN THE FALL MIGRATION 163 on the mesquite plains they were rarely seen in the inhabited valleys. Perhaps they had learned better. A field of sugar cane along our road attracted flocks of migrating clay-colored sparrows who stared at us as they clung atilt of the cane stems or pickt up seeds without observing us. Dainty little pileolated warblers with golden front and bright green back would dart out of their cover and flit past us into a most inappropriately commonplace cornfield. In the prairie-dog town on the ranch the small brown owls that lived in the old dog holes were always amusing. The twenty-acre field which held by actual count one thousand and nine prairie-dog burrows had probably several families of the owls, for altho we never saw many in any one field at the same time, the ejected pellets were numerous around the deserted bun ows. Curiously enough these black bullet-shaped pellets were made largely of the big green beetles which we found on the. plum trees of the orchard. At sight of us the prairie-dogs would scud away to their mounds, turning around inside and coming up to peek and bark at us over the edge again, while the owls would watch us with big, fixt eyes as we appeared, and if we came too near rise lightly on their wings, fly a few rods, and with strait- hanging legs drop to earth again. Tho the prairie-dogs were doing great damage to the alfalfa, they were most interesting little animals. They found us interesting too, apparently, as they would stand and bark at us just as long as they dared. It was a pretty sight to see a mother dog looking over the crater-like rim of the hole with her yellow pup- pies beside her. If we approacht they would drop down the hole, but if we Went the other way, they would sometimes scatter and go loping about the town. Holes dug out by badgers told of the tragedies of a dog town. "Prairie-dogs are pretty good prospectors and sometimes bring up pay dirt," the mammalogist remarkt reminiscently one day, and then went on to tell how in a coal counti,y where the surface was light colored they had brought up coal till "every heap was as black as ink!" As we were walking along the edge of the dog town at one time the loud ?screaming note of a willet called our attention to one of the big gray birds standing by'an irrigation pond in the adjoining alfalfa field. He jerkt his head back and forth as he watcht us, and then took wing, changing on the instant from an ordinary speckled gray bird to a black and white creature of striking pattern. On the edge of the irrigated tract a road-runner would sometimes be seen crossing the field, his head and tail on a level, his long legs carrying him as smoothly as if he had been on rollers. One that was shot proved his good offises to ranchmen.by the contents of his stomach, for it held in addition to a garter snake and a long centiped, remains of a caterpillar, a cricket, some beetles, and a supply of big grasshoppers. A marsh in what was known as Cassey's draw had been so flooded by the rains that none of the small mammals which should have been there were to be found, but a variety of swallows were weaving back and forth above it, and we flusht two night herons from the cat-tails, while a great blue heron rose and flew slowly away down the draw. As we waded thru the high grass a sora rail buzzed into the air, staying just long enough for us to note his plump little body and short bill before he ended his short parabola out of sight in the grass. Another time we flusht a jack snipe from a weed-grown lane. With an explosive zeep, zeep, zeep, it whizzed off, coming down in a spot of brown ground which it matcht so well that we had to walk up nearer before we could separate the long bill from the brown ball. Game birds were very scarce, except for a family of scaled quail which lived about the ranch and were evidently not lookt upon as game birds,. for their favorit perch was the brush-wood pile in the back yard. They seemed oddly out of place because they were acting the part of domestic fowl, and because, in this assembly of birds from well-watered lands, they really belonged to this desert region.
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