God has placed inside the Pacific Northwest a vibrant and beautiful region, known to us as Mount Rainier. The variety of “life zones” on Mount Rainier creates an environment in which many types of wildlife can live. The first life zone that one encounters when entering the park is the “Lowland Forest Zone.” The dense forest shades most of Ohanapecosh, Longmire & Carbon River from sunlight. A number of animals prefer this environment.
Beavers love the Lowland Forest Zone of Mt. Rainier. The waters flow at a slower pace here, making for a gentler place to build their dams and lodges. These constructs can be made of the softer spruce, fir, cedar or hemlock; though the beavers prefer the harder willows, alders and maples. The like to eat the inner bark on the harder trees, as well as various roots, water plants and pond algae.
Douglas Squirrels can also be found in the park’s Lowland Forest Zone. You can tell they’re about when you hear their alarm call… chickareeeee! These squirrels mostly eat seeds from coniferous trees, but they also like acorns, berries, mushrooms, fruit and even the occasional bird egg. Unlike most tree squirrels, Douglas Squirrels do not have a cheek pouches to carry their food in. Wandering through Mount Rainier’s Lowland Forest Zone, one might happen across a pile of pine cone scales. Douglas Squirrels will use the same pile for years, sometimes over multiple generations.
Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons are attracted to the Lowland Forest Zone of Mount Rainier. Critters like the ones listed above serve as tasty meals for these birds of prey. Though these birds are often seen there, Mount Rainier’s website states that there are no reports of the birds nesting in the park. Apparently they like to dine and dash.
The Northern Spotted Owl is another bird of prey that is attracted to Mount Rainier National Park. They are the only bird species on the USFWS list of threatened & endangered species that call the park home. These owls like to swallow their prey whole, and vomit up the indigestible parts in pellet form. Don’t count on seeing much of these owls during the day, as they are mostly nocturnal.
Many other species of animals can be found in the Lowland Forest Zone of Mount Rainier. For more information on these animals, check out ” A Pocket Field Guide to the Plants and Animals of Mount Rainier,” available at Whittaker Mountaineering‘s online store.