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A Richness of Martens

by Dan Hartman

Feb. 5, 2021

     As I am writing this story, we are in the middle of a five day snowstorm.  I've already blown out our driveway entrance which maybe I really should not bother as we've been officially closed since last March.
     Of course we want UPS and Fed-Ex to be able to come to the cabin and we do welcome scheduled groups who follow our covid protocol at our gallery.
     Outside my window braving the dumping snow, I can count four martens.  This sounds amazing, but actually earlier I saw six.  Heck one morning there were seven.  We feel we've had at least nine different individuals visit one time or another this winter.
  In the winter of 92/93 we had eight martens and in the tough 2010/2011 winter we also had nine.  So as you can see this richness of martens does not happen often.
     Since this has not been a rough winter, I can think of two reasons for our high numbers.  Probably the number one reason is Covid.  While we would normally have one or two groups visiting every day, we now have maybe one or two per week.  So obviously the cabin has been quiet.  Also we've noticed most of the martens are youngsters.  One to two years old.  This means they tolerate each other.
     Now when I say we have only a couple groups per week, we've had our share of photographers lined up on the highway pointing cameras at our cabin.
     Most stay in their cars and stay a few minutes, moving on when another car or truck approaches.  However, some stay for hours, parking their car against traffic and walking up and down the road.  This is extremely dangerous.  Some even walk up into the yard.
     Now, for the reason for this article.  I'd like to introduce you to this years marten crop.
     Early winter, our resident male of the last four winters was our only marten.  We call him "White Chin" for identification.
     Then a second large male appeared.  He was also familiar to us as he visited about once a week all last winter.  We call this one "Intruder" as he always comes from across the road.  He's now easily as big as White Chin.  Both of these martens are dark in color with brilliant orange throats.
     Soon a pair of younger paler colored martens appeared, I believe both to be females.  They often come in together and will even groom each other.  We call the larger of the two "Dot-Dash" because of the markings on its throat and the other one, "Pale Face".
     Then another female appeared.  This one is tiny with dark markings that mirror the large males.  She would be only nine months old.  A couple of weeks ago, two more martens joined the pack.  One is of the pale variety with gray ears and wild eyes.
     The other is our prettiest marten yet.  A dark chocolate coat witth a brilliant dark orange throat littered with dark spots.  We believe this to be a young male and call it "Two Dot"
     Over the last month, White Chin had disappeared.  We wonder if Intruder has displaced him like White Chin did to another resident male years ago.  Some of you will remember "Snaggletooth".
     On any given day we will see Pale Face, Dot-Dash, Tiny, Wild Eyes and Two Dot.  Usually all at once.  Then Intruder will make an appearance every couple days.  And I know we've got one or two more we haven't identified.
     The martens have kept us entertained over the winter, and we'll continue to keep it quiet around the cabin.
     Note:  Marten sightings are up in the Park also.  I had one cross the road by the state line.
     We spotted a pygmy owl east of Floating Island.


View slide show



Two Dot Directing Traffic




Dot Dash & Pale Face