The Snowflake and Other Unusual Birds at Marysville
The Snowflake and Other Unusual Birds at Marysville.
In the winter of 1872 or 1873, at Marysville, during the memorable snowstorm, when snow was six inches deep, a flock of forty or fifty snowflakes (Passerina nivalis) stayed fearlessly two or three days on the steamboat landing at the foot of D street, and caused much comment. They were mentioned in the local column of the Appeal by someone who gave their Latin name. I have not heretofore mentioned their occurrence because I did not get a specimen, and was not positive of the form or species. Although nearly the same list of species can be found in Central California every winter, that was a notable exception. At the same locality in the comparatively cold winter of 1877-78 the northern shrike (Lanius borealis) was quite common. I have not seen it at any other time in this state. Fine examples of the so-called hybrid flicker were very common there that winter, and their presence was apparently due to cold weather, for I have scarcely seen one like them since that time. I sent a large fine series to the Smithsonian where, Mr. Ridgway told me, as I remember, they were mounted and placed on exhibition.
The resident species remained and included the mockingbird, Pacific yellow-throat, Lawrence goldfinch, Parkman wren, and many other species. I doubt if the residents had a particle of the migratory instinct. Perhaps they never had any. During snowstorms at Murphys I have been unable to ascertain that the storms drove the residents away from the locality. I once saw a fine male Anna hummingbird feeding in manzanita (Arctostaphylos) on the mountain side above Murphys when the ground was covered with snow. Snowstorms seldom occur in the valleys or foothills, and any snow that falls is certain to melt in a day or less.