“I’m telling you, that Prairie Dog was THIS big!”
These four Burrowing Owl owlets were quite animated on this morning a couple weeks ago. No, they weren’t really chatting about the neighboring rodents. They were however getting very close to flying and there was a lot of wing flapping going on. Here, one was testing out those wings while three of its siblings looked on.
The first Wapiti Wednesday of the season following my first captures of these mountain residents this past weekend.
Driving through the Kawuneeche Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park I came across a good sized herd of cows and calves enjoying the cool, damp weather. Most were not interested in me at all but this little one couldn’t hide its curiosity.
As I kneeled and started to snap pictures, it was intently focused on me, keeping close watch and no doubt wondering why I had interest in it. This year’s newborns are growing fast and as you can tell, starting to lose their spots.
Elk are one the of the largest members of the deer family. Native Americans called them ‘wapiti’ or light colored deer. The animals once had a wide range across North America but hunting and human influences now have them primarily found across the western parts of the continent.
When you are one of the smallest creatures in the big mountains, it is tough to see around, particularly for a Pika who lives in talus fields with rocks that for us would be the equivalent size of a house. This little guy (or gal) had a nice solution.
One particular rock that almost seemed to be turned on its end stood tall above the surrounding landscape and made the perfect perch for the Pika to check out those gorgeous Rocky Mountains.
Oh my goodness this lady is just beautiful. She is the matriarch at one of the Bald Eagle nests I watch and is always impressive.
It is however somewhat unusual to see her doing housework, that is normally something the male does at this particular nest. On this morning, perhaps the male just got tired of doing everything and laid down the law, prompting her to go fetch a small stick to add to the home. 😉 Image taken back in April.
Bald eagles have been a spiritual symbol of Native Americans for hundreds of years. There were variations between tribes as to the eagles’ symbolism but for most it generally represented bravery, wisdom, strength and courage. It was believed that the eagles carried prayers to the Great Spirit.
Denver may see record heat today so that has me wanting for cooler temperatures and the increased wildlife activity they bring. Looking back on this past winter, there is no doubt that this Arctic visitor was the highlight.
It is rare for Snowy Owls to come this far south to Colorado but at least five different ones spotted in the Centennial State during the season. This particular one hung out for a few weeks in January in a suburb northwest of Denver.
The types of events that bring them here are called an irruption and while it isn’t perfectly clear what causes them, it is believed that a very successful summer breeding season results in an over-population of young owls in the Arctic. As a result, many head south in the winter in search of food.
It could be years before the next event like the most recent occurs but I will be anxiously awaiting and ready!
A male Burrowing Owl and a Prairie Dog face off over the rights to an underground home. Very fun to watch this interaction.
These two creatures have a very symbiotic relationship and normally get along great. The owls use abandoned Prairie Dogs’ burrows and they both share watch duties keeping all safe from intruders by sounding alarms when danger approaches.
The pair of Burrowing Owls at this spot though was very protective of their clan and did not like it when any type of creature intruded. In this case, the owl was being a bit over-protective. Its burrow was actually about 20 yards away and all this Prairie Dog was doing was wanting to return to its own home.
Thankfully for the Prairie Dog, the owls don’t sit for long so it just waited till the owl moved on and then it reclaimed its home.
“Go ahead. Hop in. It is safe.” 😉 An American White Pelican seems to be trying to convince a Snowy Egret that it would be okay to check out its mouth. Of course in fact Pelicans don’t eat Egrets but it did make for a pretty darned funny image. A good one for a ‘caption this’ contest. What do you got?
My photo excursions this past weekend didn’t quite go as well as I had hoped. Wildlife proved to be elusive on one day and the weather with thick cloud cover problematic on Sunday.
This image comes from yesterday in Rocky Mountain National Park. I spotted this handsome fellow as he moved with purpose along a tree line in view but too far away for decent pics. I anticipated he would be coming to a spot where a dirt road intersects and sure enough, he did.
The dim, early morning light was inhibited further by thick clouds over the valley so most of my pics were quite disappointing. I did manage this one when, for a very brief instant, the sun broke through and shed light right where the bull happened to be.
A fun picture of these ladies and their offspring. The herd was on the move and it was tough to get decent shots of them as they were all clustered up. Rather than push a less than ideal situation, I decided to risk it and go a good ways ahead of them.
With a hill then between them and I, I was keeping my fingers crossed they would continue on their same path and pop up at the top. Sure enough they did. Six pretty cows and four calves led the herd giving me this cool capture of these once endangered species.
I don’t think I have ever photographed a more colorful bird than this one. Taken back in May in the wetlands of central Florida, it was hopping along the tops of the vegetation.
Purple Gallinule are relatively common around the Gulf of Mexico and have occasionally turned up much farther to the north into southern Canada. Populations of the bird have decreased greatly in recent decades and it is considered a “species of high concern in North America”.