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The Yosemite cony is an alpine species, found only in the higher parts of the mountains above the fir belt, in the zone occupied by the alpine hemlock, white-bark pine, heather, and cassiope. Even within this narrow area it does not live everywhere, but is restricted to a single habitat, heaps or taluses of broken granite. Altitudinally, the cony is found, in the Yosemite National Park, as low as 7700 feet, near Glen Aulin, on the Tuolumne River ; upward it ranges to about 12,000 feet, as on the slopes of Mount Dana, and to the very summit of Parsons Peak, 12,120 feet. But within this restricted area the cony is found in almost every glacial moraine and talus-heap. In one typical rock-slide, at the head of Lyell Cañon, our estimates indicated a population of at least one cony per 750 square yards. This would mean a population of about six per acre in suitable slide-rock. The range of an individual is short, probably rarely exceeding the boundaries of the rock-slide which the animal inhabits. While a cony will go some distance among rocks for food materials, it will not venture more than two or three yards beyond the limits of shelter.
The summer traveler in the mountains is first apprised of the presence of conies by hearing one of the animals utter its faroff-sounding "bleat.” In fact, this note, or call, is such a valuable introductory aid that even the trained field observer finds that the only practicable means of locating the animals is to wait in a suitable locality and listen intently until one of them utters its call and then to scrutinize the area whence the sound came until its maker is discerned. This call is a moderately loud twoor three-syllabled utterance, and has a nasal intonation. The quality of the note is such as to suggest the clinking together of flakes of granite. It has been variously rendered by our field observers. One writes it, yink, yink, another, ke-ack', ke-ack', or ke-ack', ke-ack', ke-ic'-ky; and another,e-chak', e-chak', chee-ick', chee-ick', chee-ick'-y. Sometimes the call is uttered but once; again it may be repeated for ten or fifteen seconds, at first rapidly, then more slowly, as if the cony's breath was being gradually exhausted. The animal accompanies its calls with certain movements which seem essential to their production (figure 3). The whole body is jerked violently forward, as if considerable exertion were necessary to expel the air from the lungs, and at the same time the ears are twitched upward, so that in face view their outlines catch the observer's eye.
For several months of each year snow covers everything within the range of the cony. The various species of animals which dwell there meet the resulting food scarcity in a number of different ways. Most of the birds emigrate, the deer and coyote descend to lower altitudes, the marmot hibernates, the gopher constructs tunnels through the snow, and the whitetailed jack-rabbit turns white and develops "snow-shoes" on its feet so that it can forage above the snow. But the cony has still another method of meeting the situation.
During the late summer and early autumn the cony is busy at all hours of the day gathering materials to serve as food while it is imprisoned among the rocks beneath the snow. It cuts and stores away grasses and sedges and other plants which grow in the vicinity of its home. These are carried into the rock-slides, and stored in a dry, well-drained, shady yet airy place, sheltered above from snow and rain, and free from the danger of running water below-an ideal barn from the standpoint of a farmer. This treatment is such as to preserve unfaded the natural colors of the dried plants, and the fragrance is that of well-cured hay free from mold. One such “hay-pile” seen by the senior author on Warren Peak, Mono County, September 26, 1915, was situated under a huge flat rock and comprised about half a cubic yard of material. Samples from a similar but smaller pile included twigs and needles of the lodgepole pine, sprigs of “ocean spray” (Holodiscus discolor dumosa), two or more alpine species of sedge (Carex), with their characteristically rough stems of triangular cross-section, a grass (Poa), and an epilobium. The nearest sedge was twenty-five feet down-hill in a wet place, while the nearest holodiscus was at least seventy-five feet up the steep slope adjacent. Currant and red-elderberry bushes grew nearer than any of the other plants named, but neither had been touched, showing that the cony exercises some selection in the choice of its food materials.
When foraging the cony secures as large an amount of cut greens as can be held crosswise in its mouth and then carries the bundle to the "barn.” Often stems of considerable length are transported in this manner, and, as the animal moves about,
the ends of these stems trail along beside or behind him. Many of the pieces found in the hay-piles were over a foot in length, and one piece of cut sedge measured forty-five inches in length; but this latter had been folded several times. A hay-pile seen near the head of the McClure fork of the Merced River contained nearly a bushel of material, and, judging from the fact that six adult-sized conies and one juvenile were trapped at this pile, it may be that hay-piles are community or at least family affairs.
While not foraging and not occupied beneath the surface of the slide, the cony sits hunched up, usually with its back higher than its head, in some protected place under a large overhanging rock. The post usually selected is the crest of a backwardslanting rock where the animal can enjoy a wide angle of view and yet be in a position, when danger threatens, to dart back into the shelter of the slide. These perches, or observationposts, are marked by accumulations of droppings of an oblately spherical shape, like those of a rabbit but much smaller, and by whitish stains due to the action of the liquid excrement on the granite. When a cony comes to "attention" on an observationpost the head is often raised, the nose wiggled, and the feet "shuffled," all suggestive of mannerisms of a rabbit; but the movements of the head are much quicker. The hobbling gait reminds one somewhat of the hopping of a brush-rabbit. The cony moves rapidly and with apparent ease almost everywhere in a slide, even over very steep and smooth rock surfaces. We
a have never seen one of these animals assume the erect posture which is common to rabbits.
The cony shares its rock-slide home with the bushy-tailed wood-rat (Neotoma cinerea cinerea) and the Sierra marmot (Marmota flaviventris sierrae), but we have learned nothing to indicate that these two large rodents molest the cony in any way. In the matter of enemies, there are only three carnivorous animals which dwell in the same situations as the cony and which we have reason to believe may prey upon it. These are the Sierra pine-marten (Martes caurina sierrae) and the least and mountain weasels (Mustela muricus and Mustela arizonensis). At Vogelsang Lake, before sunrise of August 31, 1915, two conies were heard "bleating" vociferously as they ran excitedly