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Fauna


Bird-watchers will find such rarities as the lazuli bunting, canyon wren, white-throated swift, Brewer's sparrow, burrowing owl, Nevada sage sparrow and Bullock's oriole, while ordinary observers cannot miss the large calmly sailing black and white magpies which are common in the creek beds. Wild swans are winter visitors and Canada geese nest in the neighbourhood. Ducks of many species were common before the pressure of population took its toll. The sad-sounding "hoo-oo, hoo-oo" from the orchards is the call of the neat, sleek mourning dove. The killdeer, whose name is derived from its shrill call, runs along in front of you on the edges of the lake or the sloughs.

Rattlesnakes were once common but are now rare, and the same is true of the jack-rabbit. There are noteworthy mice, lizards, spiders and beetles, but these are not likely to be found except by the expert. However, in the sloughs there are still some Painted turtles, the shell a beautiful orange on the underside. Large animals are not common. Coyotes can occasionally be seen on the mountain side, and can be heard in winter. The peeled trees have had their bark eaten by porcupines. Deer, however, have increased, and indeed, do considerable damage to young orchard trees.

Salmon were a great source of food in the past, but few can now ascend because of dams in the United States. Kamloops trout have been restocked from time to time. Freshwater clams are common but are not considered edible. The plopping and splashing is made by the large and unappetizing European carp - an introduction that was far from worthwhile.

Occasionally, a visiting beaver will cut down young trees along the beach. Look for small stumps which appear to have been axed all round. Muskrat dwellings can be seen in shallow sloughs.

Quail, pheasant and partridge have been introduced, and do well in the dry hot climate, but again over-hunting has removed too many of them.

All these plants, birds and animals must be able to live through the hot summers and fairly long, though not really cold winters of this zone. It is hoped that people will be interested enough in this unique heritage of Canada's desert to keep some of the land in its original state as a wilderness area for future generations to enjoy.