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Wildlife

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“My what a big truck you have!”

I’m not sure who was more surprised by the close proximity I and this Burrowing Owl found ourselves in – me or the owl.

I was taking pictures of him and his mate at their burrow about 20 yards away when suddenly he decided to fly closer and landed not 15 feet away, right outside my truck window. He seemed pretty surprised at my presence although I had been sitting there for an hour.

This pair has become quite famous due to their easily accessed location and they always seem to put on a show. It shouldn’t be long before the female retreats to the burrow with eggs and then in a month or so little ones will arrive if all goes well.

For more pics of these cool little owls, see here.

A male Burrowing Owl seems a bit surprised at the presence of a photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Burrowing Owl seems a bit surprised at the presence of a photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

The cutest kid

Let’s call it Mountain Goat Monday. The start of the week is always fraught with stress but this little one is sure to settle you down and have a calming effect. I mean, really, just look at that face!

Taken back on June 30, 2015, this Mountain Goat kid and its mom were enjoying an evening walk atop Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, Montana. The young one never strayed far from mom but couldn’t help but be a bit distracted by all the attention it was receiving, stopping every now and then to look at the people. This little one was only a little over a month or so old and it will continue to hang around with its mother for the next year or so.

Mountain Goats have a native range stretching from southern Alaska to the Rocky Mountains. The populations here in Colorado where I live are actually non-native, having been brought here in the middle of the 20th century as a tourist attraction.

A Mountain Goat kid poses for pictures on the top of Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, Montana. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Mountain Goat kid poses for pictures on the top of Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, Montana. (© Tony’s Takes)

A hobbled young Coyote

Not great pictures given horrible sky conditions and rain but they tell a story. I came across this beautiful young Coyote as it was working its way through a field yesterday. I noticed it was limping, seemingly favoring its right, front paw.

When I got home and looked closer at the pictures, I realized that paw appears to be much shorter than the others. Perhaps a birth defect or it could have been caught in a trap at some point. The good thing is that it looked quite healthy and other than its pronounced limp, seemed to be okay.

A young Coyote keeps close watch from a field. (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Coyote keeps close watch from a field. (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Coyote keeps close watch from a field. It appeared to missing the lower part of its right front leg. (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Coyote keeps close watch from a field. It appeared to missing the lower part of its right front leg. (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Coyote keeps close watch from a field. It appeared to missing the lower part of its right front leg. (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Coyote keeps close watch from a field. It appeared to missing the lower part of its right front leg. (© Tony’s Takes)

Panoramic Bald Eagle scream

Flying right at me making a lot of noise, this male wanted to make sure I knew it was there. Of course I am not sure how I could possibly miss this massive raptor. I cropped this image into a panorama format which really helps to draw attention the the details – and that huge wingspan.

A male Bald Eagle makes a lot of noise as it approaches. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Bald Eagle makes a lot of noise as it approaches. (© Tony’s Takes)

“Hi, honey! I’m home!”

A male Bald Eagle prepares to make a landing next to its mate in this image for Freedom Friday.

It has been an absolutely joy getting to watch this pair over recent weeks. Most Bald Eagles have left Colorado for the season and headed north. The ones that remain are mostly mated pairs that have seen the arrival of little ones over the past week or two. These two though appear not to have been successful with a nest but have chosen to stick around the Centennial State anyway, at least so far.

I have found them frequently at a state park where they are more than willing to pose and occasionally put on a bit of an airshow. I love the determined look on the male’s face as he comes in for a landing and the image does a nice job showcasing that massive 6-foot-wide wingspan and those impressive talons.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

A male Bald Eagle comes in for a landing near its mate at St Vrain State Park in northern Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Bald Eagle comes in for a landing near its mate at St Vrain State Park in northern Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Osprey stays focused on flight

This was one busy guy. He was doing everything he could to keep his lady happy from some morning ‘recreation’ to heading out and fetching building material for their home. Here he is right after launch as he went off to grab a stick from alongside the nearby pond.

When I last checked on them Sunday she was not yet sitting in the nest but it shouldn’t be too much longer. From there, it will 34 to 40 days before the little ones hatch.

A male Osprey stays focused as it takes flight in northern Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Osprey stays focused as it takes flight in northern Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Red-tailed Hawk caught off guard by strong winds

A rather dramatic image of this raptor as it banks hard right. I saw this hawk perched on the plains and stopped to snap its picture. It had other plans however and immediately launched into the air, seemingly unaware of the strong east winds that were blowing. As it pushed off the ground and extended its wings, the wind turned those wings into sails and seemed to almost cause the hawk to flip over. It did recover but did not look particularly graceful in the process.

Pushed by the wind, a Red-tailed Hawk flies sideways after launch in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Pushed by the wind, a Red-tailed Hawk flies sideways after launch in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Prairie Dog as a lone watchman

It can’t be easy being one of these creatures on the Great Plains. Threats abound as they are a food source for a wide variety of predators from eagles and hawks to fox and coyote. Man is an additional threat in many areas as Prairie Dogs are viewed as pests and can carry the plague. They are however a keystone species in many locations and critical to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Not only do many other species rely on them as food but others use their burrows for dens and nests. This particular Black-tailed Prairie Dog was up soon before sunrise recently, seeming to scout the immediate area to ensure it was safe for the rest of the colony to come out.

A Prairie Dog stands watch on the Great Plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Prairie Dog stands watch on the Great Plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Winter’s bison calf begins to change

Being born in the dead of winter on the Colorado plains does not make for an easy start to life. However, this little guy (or gal) looks to have done just fine.

I first captured images of it back in the middle of December within a couple of days after it was born just before a snowstorm hit. Now, four months later, we can see some changes taking place as it grows up.

It of course has grown considerably but also, it’s ‘red dog’ fur is changing to the adult brown, it is developing the shoulder hump and its horns are growing.

Bison are the largest mammal in North American with cows weighing up to 1,000 pounds and bulls up to 2,000 pounds. Whether a male or female, this little one will be massive once it grows up.

A Bison calf walks through the grass with its mother. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bison calf walks through the grass with its mother. (© Tony’s Takes)

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