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Wildlife

Sam the Bald Eagle says, “Merry Christmas”

Sam says, “Merry Christmas!” Judging from the look on his face though, it appears Santa may have just left him coal in his stocking. 😉 From my family to yours, we wish you all a very merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Sam the Bald Eagle says, "Merry Christmas".  (© Tony’s Takes)

Sam the Bald Eagle says, “Merry Christmas”. (© Tony’s Takes)

Rough-legged Hawk shows off for the photographer

I happened across this seasonal visitor yesterday. It was a bit indecisive trying to decide if it wanted to take off or hang out and have its picture taken. Thankfully, its hesitation allowed me to capture a nice shot of this visitor from the Arctic.

Rough Legged Hawks spend their summers in the Arctic where they mate and then spend winters in southern Canada and the lower 48. One of their most notable features is that their legs are feathered all the way down to the toes, one of only three American raptors like that. The other two being the Ferruginous Hawk and the Golden Eagle.

A Rough-legged Hawk raises its wings as it contemplates taking flight on the plains of Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rough-legged Hawk raises its wings as it contemplates taking flight on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Coyote on the hunt in the Colorado high country

A capture from this past September in Rocky Mountain National Park. I happened across this pretty lady as she was hunting the fields for breakfast. The sun and just come up over the horizon so the light was pretty much perfect – and she looked awesome in it. Best of all, she pretty much ignored me, staying focused on finding food.

Coyotes are amazingly adaptable animals and have not been greatly impacted by human expansion. Here in the area I live, this has resulted in some human – coyote conflicts, mainly with the coyotes attacking domestic pets. They range across North America and some have even been seen into Central America and Panama.

A Coyote keeps watch for a possible meal in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Coyote keeps watch for a possible meal in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bald Eagle makes a fast-moving flyby

It is Freedom Friday and the start of a long holiday weekend leading up to the celebration of the birth of Our Savior. I’ll be spending plenty of time with family and friends over the period and of course, certainly getting out and taking pictures.

This is a capture from this past weekend when I happened across this gorgeous Eagle northeast of Denver, Colorado. It was in no mood to stop and pose but did give me a nice flight series as it blasted by on a mission.

In the past two weeks I’m seeing Bald Eagle activity pick up quite a bit as more arrive for the season. Seems like this could be a really good winter for observing and photographing them. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. Thank you so much for checking out my pictures!

A fabulously detailed Bald Eagle flies by fast on the plains of Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A fabulously detailed Bald Eagle flies by fast on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bighorn Sheep lamb hams it up for its portrait

Just like a human child, young animals sometimes seem to revel in having their picture taken. Such was the case with this little lamb in the foothills southwest of Denver, Colorado recently.

While most of the herd ignored me, this one seemed to almost be begging to have its picture taken and of course I was happy to oblige.

Found across much of western North America, Bighorn Sheep are adept mountain climbers, best known for the male ram’s monstrous horns. While the animals are social, rams and ewes typically only meet during mating season. The young are kept on high ledges to help protect them from predators.

A Bighorn Sheep lamb seems to smile as its picture is taken.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep lamb seems to smile as its picture is taken. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bison cow takes a whiff of Tatanka Tuesday

Perhaps I forgot to wear deodorant on this morning or, more likely, the males of the herd were smelling things up for the rut. This female cow was among the many being courted by the males last month.

She was actually demonstrating what is 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 Bison cow demonstrates the flehmen response at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bison cow demonstrates the flehmen response at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. (© Tony’s Takes)

Mountain Goat kid kids around with the photographer

Oh, this little one. It was quite the entertainer for me back on the first of July at the top of Mount Evans. It and its mom and come to the top and I was doing my best to get some pictures of the kid. It however almost purposely seemed to evade my every move to get a clear shot.

Just as I would get in position, it would move itself around the side of a big boulder out of view. This went on for a while with me getting more and more annoyed. At one point when it was out of view, it stuck its head up above a boulder and I swear, it truly, purposely stuck its tongue out at me! Sigh. Some people’s kids! 😉

A shy Mountain Goat kid sticks its tongue out at the photographer.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A shy Mountain Goat kid sticks its tongue out at the photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

Road rage! Two Gray Ghosts battle for breakfast

You’re sitting there enjoying your breakfast on the blacktop and wouldn’t you know it, someone else comes along and crashes the meal. 😉

A pretty darned fun series I captured this morning. I am driving along and see something in the middle of the road so I slow down and see a male Northern Harrier – the Gray Ghost – eating a rabbit.

I work my way up slowly, getting closer to get some better pictures and the hawk isn’t minding one bit as he was just hungry. As I am taking pictures, I see something out of the corner of my eye and realize another bird is inbound and about to crash the party. It unfolds so fast, I squeeze the trigger and just hope for the best. In the end I got this sequence of seven images.

Awesome stuff! I do wish the scene took place on a field instead of a road but beggars can’t be choosers.

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of male Northern Harriers, Gray Ghosts, battle it out in the road over a rabbit. (© Tony’s Takes)

Red-tailed Hawk stands guard

The soft light of the rising sun and the dramatic fall skies in the background really make this one a personal favorite. This is Karma, a captive bird, used for falconry and education. When my son and I had the opportunity to photograph it at an organized photoshoot last year, we jumped at the chance. It was quite a show and allowed us to get up close and personal with this hawk.

Found across all of North America, Red-tailed Hawks are probably the most common hawk you will see. They are oftentimes perched on poles in rural areas but have adapted well to suburban and urban settings as well.

Image available for purchase here.

A Red-tailed Hawk keeps watch from its perch in Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Red-tailed Hawk keeps watch from its perch in Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)