Querulous Pika Pipe Through the Hills

The verb endeavor means to “make an effort” or to “try hard to achieve something”.  It hails from Middle English endeveren and entered the English lexicon around 1350-1400.  Endeveren evolved from Old French mettre en deveir which translated means to “put in duty”.

Endeavor certainly describes this young cat’s efforts to get this baby deer to play.  After cautiously sniffing the air around its possible new playmate, the kitten, named Miro, prances over to the fawn.  After a quick sniff of the fawn’s snout, the kitten then tries to get the deer to play by repeatedly dancing around the deer and batting it playfully. Clearly, the fawn is not yet up for a playdate, lying prone and on alert while Miro continues to try and engage his new friend. Midway through the video, the dejected kitten gives up and settles down with a dissatisfied look on his face.  Mira isn’t left feeling discourage for too long, and the kitten is quickly back at trying to play with the baby deer.  Unfortunately, the deer contains to maintain its protective stance and Miro is left frustrated again in his attempts to play. Eventually, the owners of the house where the fawn was found moved the deer to a wooded area where it was hopefully reunited with its mother.

The pika is one of nature’s cutest creatures, a fluffy relative of rodents and hares that lives in the mountainous regions of North America, Asia, and parts of Eastern Europe. They make their burrows in the rocky slopes of mountain peaks and forage for plants and other tasty treats to store for the cold winter months. Pika often resemble smaller prairie dogs or marmots from far away, but are a distinct species unto themselves.

Pika are known for making a high pitched squeak to communicate between themselves. They are diurnal, which means they are primarily active during the daytime and don’t hibernate during the winter. Pika spent most of their days hopping about the slopes of their rocky homes collecting food for the winter and are relatively solitary creatures.

Eurasian pika are more likely than their North American counterparts to live in small family groups; Northern American pika are known for being asocial outside of the regular breeding season.

These small animals are sometimes called whistling hares for the querulous, high-pitched noises they make. Querulous means complaining or vocalizing in a petulant or whining manner. Querulous can also connote being grumpy, surly, impatient, grumpy, or cantankerous.

The English word comes from the Latin queri, or complain, which changed into the Latin querulus and then into querulosus in Late Latin. The word querulous was adopted by the English language in the late 15th century and remains a beautifully descriptive adjective.

This querulous pika may be wondering where his friends have wondered off to and is trying to locate them in the rolling hills of his home. The vocalizations of the pika are loud compared to such a small creature! While they burrow away in their mountain homes for the winter, the pika will be back in the spring to resume their querulous calls across the mountains.

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