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Goonies of the Desert

J. Grinnell
Publication Information
Journal: 
Condor
Volume: 
10
Issue: 
2 (March-April)
Section: 
From Field and Study
Year: 
1908
Pages: 
92

Goonies of the Desert

Those of us who have undertaken voyages across the ocean will readily recall the almost constant presence of goonies, or albatrosses, which fly along in the wake of the boat closely scrutinizing the sea surface for any sort of refuse that may serve them as food. In crossing the deserts of New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California recently, I noticed a similar habit on the part of the ravens. As I sat on the observation platform at the rear of the train, I repeatedly saw these goonies of the desert fall in behind the train, following along above the track evidently on the lookout for scraps thrown from the diner. The birds were nearly always in pairs. In case the grade was heavy, as is the climb up to San Gorgonio Pass out of the Salton Sink, the ravens could easily keep up with the train, even when they now and then alighted to investigate something of suspected interest. Elsewhere the birds were easily distanced by the train. We can infer that these scavengers regularly follow the trains back and forth across the desert, securing a substantial addition to their primitive food supply.

J. GRINNELL

Pasadena, California.

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