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Wildlife

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An insane number of geese

I don’t post these pics because they are particularly great but rather because they show a pretty insane scene. I was out on a photo drive northeast of Denver, Colorado and had stopped to at a popular eagle spot. I was hearing a few shotgun shots, not unusual this time of year, when suddenly there was a massive eruption of Canada Geese (and a few Snow Geese) from the nearby fields.

There had to be thousands of them as they all took flight, making quite a ruckus as they did. These birds are not particularly well liked in this area as they make huge messes and their numbers can be overwhelming – as you can see – but it was kind of fun to see this.

Thousands of Canada Geese in flight over the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Thousands of Canada Geese in flight over the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Thousands of Canada Geese in flight over the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Thousands of Canada Geese in flight over the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Wary White-tailed Deer buck

Despite the fact I was sitting in my big, bright blue truck out in the open, this guy seemed a bit surprised to have walked right up to me. He had his head down, alternately grazing and keeping an eye on a nearby female off to the side. When he finally looked forward, he spotted me and had a bit of a “where did you come from” look. 😉

White-tailed Deer are North America’s smallest deer. They are very fleet-footed capable of speeds up to 30mph and able to leap as high as 10 feet and as far as 30 feet in a single bound.

A White-tailed Deer buck keeps watch on the photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

A White-tailed Deer buck keeps watch on the photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

Flight of freedom in honor of Veterans Day

President John Kennedy said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”

A select few men and women have served in our nation’s armed forces and endured hardships that are impossible for others to imagine. They have done so with distinction and honor, preserving our freedom and shedding a light across the globe to help those in need. Today we honor them, remember them, and ensure that they will never be forgotten.

I thank all of my brothers and sisters in arms today for their service. It is an honor to have served this Great Nation with you and like you, I would do it again if called upon. God bless you all.

A Bald Eagle in flight in honor of Veterans Day. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle in flight in honor of Veterans Day. (© Tony’s Takes)

Osprey on the hunt

I happened across this pretty lady back in August in Grand County, Colorado. Her young ones had fledged so her and her mate were free to do as they pleased. On this morning, she was patrolling the waters of a nearby lake looking for breakfast.

These summer-season visitors to Colorado are some of my favorite raptors. They are gone from my area and have headed south to the Gulf Coast and South America for the winter.

Some Osprey will take on extraordinarily long migrations. One GPS-tracked bird flew 2,700 miles from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to French Guiana, South America in 2008.

A female Osprey patrols the waters of a mountain lake in Grand County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A female Osprey patrols the waters of a mountain lake in Grand County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

“Mom! Do you really need to watch me do this?”

Absolutely a poor quality picture but one that makes me smile. Taken this past June during our visit to Grand Teton National Park. I was out for an early morning drive while the rest of my crew slept in and I came across this Grizzly Bear sow and her not-so-young cub. The pair was grazing in an open meadow when the young one decided it need to ‘go.’ It was heavily overcast and the sun had just come up so light was minimal and not great for photography but it was fun to see.

A Grizzly Bear sow and her cub in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Grizzly Bear sow and her cub in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. (© Tony’s Takes)

“Ooh that smell! Can’t you smell that smell?”

Forgive me for borrowing a couple of lines from an old Lynyrd Skynyrd song but that is what came to mind when I saw this. 😉

This Bighorn Sheep ram was clearly in the mood and was non-stop chasing a ewe around the canyon. She was not showing any interest and at one point stopped running to relieve herself. The ram got a good whiff of it and made this face.

This is in fact a behavior called the flehmen response. Many mammals will do this, curling their lips, raising their head and inhaling deeply allowing them to get a better sampling of a particular smell that interests them – kind of like a human taking a big whiff to smell something.

A Bighorn Sheep ram displays the flehmen response after taking a whiff of a female. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram displays the flehmen response after taking a whiff of a female. (© Tony’s Takes)

Hawk hunts backyard chickens

A very fun thing to see this past weekend although I didn’t get images of all the action. I spotted a gorgeous Cooper’s Hawk hanging out in a suburban park so naturally stopped to get a picture.

It flew off immediately toward some neighboring houses and I was going to give up until I hear some chickens making a huge ruckus. I walked toward the noise and see just over the short fence three chickens huddled up under a bush, clearly distraught. I knew then that hawk had to be there.

Sure enough, I see it standing in the yard, probably trying to figure out how it can enjoy a nice breakfast of poultry. Unfortunately when the Cooper’s Hawk saw me it hopped up into a tree, then decided it didn’t want witnesses to the slaughter it was contemplating and headed off. While I didn’t get any action shots, I did get some decent images of the raptor.

Interestingly enough, the term ‘chicken hawk’ actually refers to the Cooper’s Hawk. Apparently that is fitting.

A Cooper's Hawk keeps watch on some backyard chickens in the hopes of getting a meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper’s Hawk keeps watch on some backyard chickens in the hopes of getting a meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper's Hawk keeps watch on some backyard chickens in the hopes of getting a meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Cooper’s Hawk keeps watch on some backyard chickens in the hopes of getting a meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

“Come on! Let’s play!”

It was a lazy early fall day on the mountain for the Mountain Goat kids, well, at least for some of them. While most were quite content to just relax on the alpine tundra, one was feeling rambunctious and went around prodding the other kids to play. It never did work but it was cute watching it try to get the others moving. Here it went up and nosed another young one.

The terrain where this picture was taken undoubtedly looks much different now, two months later. Mount Evans is covered in snow and its summit is closed for the next seven months. I’ll be anxiously awaiting my chance to visit with this high altitude residents again.

Mount Goat kids play above timberline in the Colorado high country. (© Tony’s Takes)

Mount Goat kids play above timberline in the Colorado high country. (© Tony’s Takes)

Burrowing Owl among wildflowers

This morning I shared an image of a whole clan of these cool little raptors. Here is a close up of one of the adults. It was kind enough to hang out in a spot with some nice flowers to add some color. Okay, I realize they may just be flowering weeds but it still looks better than the dirt mounts we normally see them on. 😀

During the summer Burrowing Owls can be found across much of the western United States. At more southern latitudes closer to Mexico and in Florida they stay in place year round. Unlike most owls, Burrowing Owls are diurnal (versus nocturnal) so it is quite common to find them out and about during the day.

Burrowing Owls are considered a threatened species here in the Colorado. Their numbers appear to be on the decline as humans take over and destroy their habitat. Many folks think nothing of wiping out Prairie Dog colonies, a keystone species itself, but don’t think of the cascading effects of that on all of the other creatures down the line, including these little guys.

A Burrowing Owl keeps watch above its flower covered home. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Burrowing Owl keeps watch above its flower covered home. (© Tony’s Takes)

That is one big family!

I was trying to decide what to post a picture of this morning, trying to keep an eye toward a creature I hadn’t posted in a while. Burrowing Owls were what I settled on and while I have images of these cool little ones that are far better, I remembered this one.

Taken back at the end of June, it shows more Burrowing Owls in a single picture than I have ever seen – one adult and nine young ones! I had never seen so many at a single burrow, usually finding four or five at a time. They can have clutches from two to 12 so this family was at the upper end of the spectrum.

A very large family of Burrowing Owls northeast of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A very large family of Burrowing Owls northeast of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

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