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H.S. Swarth from Atlin to Claude in Whitehorse hospital, July 12, 1931.
H.S. Swarth from Atlin to Claude in Whitehorse hospital, July 12, 1931.
Yukon Archives: 91/112 f. 3 MSS 365
Wildlife photography mailbox

Atlin, B.C.

July 12, 1931

Dear Mr. Tidd,

Your letter of April 1 reached me at San Francisco a few days before we left home and I postponed replying until I reached here. Then, at Carcross a few days ago, Corporal Blatta told me that you were ill at the hospital in White Horse, so I am addressing this letter there. I do hope that by this time you are up and around again. I inferred from what Blatta told me that it is a thyroid operation, and if that were the case I can certainly sympathize, for last August I went through the misery of removal of an “adenoma of the thyroid” (to use the doctor's expression) which left me with a generally deflated feeling and a four inch scar. I did recover, though, which may be encouraging.

I read your list of birds with great interest, and will add a few comments upon the same. White-crowned Sparrow is Gambel's ( Zonotridia gambelii ). “Cowbird” – this must be the Rusty Blackbird (Enfliagus carolinum), no cowbird is know to range anywhere near so far north. [NB: This section was underlined with a star beside it that appears not be original to the author of the letter.] Woodpeckers – you do not list the three-toed; should find both the Ladder-backed and Black-backed. Hudsonian Curlew – a rare bird inland; if you can save a specimen do so, as there is just a chance that the Bristle-thighed Curlew might reach your region. Sora Rail – are you sure of this? It seems an extra-ordinary record. I have no books here but do not think the Sora has ever been found nearly so far north.

Your entry of “Song Sparrow” puzzles me, for no form of the Song Sparrow is known to occur in the interior of Alaska or eastward. At first I thought you must mean Fox Sparrow, but I found that farther down the list. If you can make any sort of specimen I would be glad to help you identify anything that puzzles you and that you could send me.

The little flycatchers are very puzzling, and more easily told by call note and habits than any other way. Here at Atlin we have the Alder Flycatcher, in the willow thickets of the lowlands; the Hammond 's Flycatcher, in the poplar woods of the lowland; Wright's Flycatcher, more rare than the others, and the few I have seen at or near timber-line. The Least Flycatcher which you list is an eastern bird not known to range this far west.

There is one bird in which I am particularly interested, and which you may or may not have seen, the Sharp-tailed Grouse. I would like very much to see specimens form any part of this region (northern BC, Yukon or Alaska ) as it is probably a different bird from the species in southern B.C. So if you get hold of any and care to send me the skins flat or stuffed, you would be helping to work out one of the many ornithological problems as yet unsolved of this immense northwestern country.

With kinds regards and hopes for recovered health

Sincerely yours

H.S. Swarth

P.S. Will be here in Atlin until middle October.
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