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Wildlife

Pronghorn buck smiles for its picture

I had to go to Cheyenne for work this week and had hoped to see some of these speed demons. I did indeed, dozens in fact on the way up but at that time I couldn’t stop. On the way back, I was only able to find a half dozen hanging out in Weld County just inside the Colorado border. As is typical, they didn’t want to hang around and be observed so I only got a few, fleeting captures.

Sometimes mistakenly called antelope, their closest relatives are actually giraffes and okapi. It is believed Pronghorn developed their extraordinary speed when the now extinct American Cheetah was a threat.

They are in fact the fastest land animal in the Western Hemisphere and second in the world only to the Cheetah. They can sprint at speeds up to 60mph and run for extraordinarily long distances at slower speeds. That speed and endurance continues to come in handy for escaping the threats of today – coyotes, wolves and of course man.

A Pronghorn buck poses on the plains of northern Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Pronghorn buck poses on the plains of northern Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bringing home the hay for Freedom Friday

Bringing home the hay for Freedom Friday. I arrived at my local Bald Eagle nest to find no home two weekends ago. This was very concerning as the female had been laying in the nest the last few visits I made. After waiting for about a half hour, I was standing up to leave when I saw a shadow pass over me. The pair finally returned! The female arrived clutching some grass in her talons and gave me a fantastic flyby before landing at home.

Taken in Adams County, Colorado. TGIF and have a fantastic weekend!

A female Bald Eagle returns to her nest with a load of grass in her talons. (© Tony’s Takes)

A female Bald Eagle returns to her nest with a load of grass in her talons. (© Tony’s Takes)

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk makes for a fun find

Red-tailed Hawks are quite common but not the ones of this variety. I have seen this particular one hanging out along a back-country road northeast of my home a few times but have never had much luck getting a picture. Recently though, the raptor was kind enough to sit still just long enough for me to snap this capture.

Leucism is a genetic mutation that prevents pigments from being properly embedded in feathers thus resulting in lighter than normal coloring. I’ve seen pictures of other hawks with the condition that were far whiter than this one.

A slightly leucistic Red-tailed Hawk in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A slightly leucistic Red-tailed Hawk in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Flicker fight!

Two male Northern Flickers settle their differences with an all out battle. This was actually a pretty darned crazy scene to witness. One landed on a nearby log, then the second came. Both started flaring their tails and raising their heads and then the fight was on. In the air, on the ground, they went at each other hard!

Pretty crazy stuff – never seen that before. These woodpeckers can be found across much of the contiguous 48 United States. For some folks, they can be quite the pest as they hammer away at trees, house siding and chimneys.

Taken along the South Platte River north of Denver, Colorado. Scroll down to view the complete series.

Two male Northern Flickers battle in the air. (© Tony’s Takes)

Two male Northern Flickers battle in the air. (© Tony’s Takes)

First Osprey of the year signals the arrival of spring

I figured I would be seeing these cool raptors any day now as they return from their winter homes along the Gulf Coast and South America. Sunday proved to be the day when I spotted the first of the season, six in fact at various spots in northern Colorado.

This particular guy was hanging out at St Vrain State Park, Colorado and put on a nice little show for me. After a quick patrol of one of the ponds, he returned and gave me a fantastic landing sequence, including this capture of him as he settled in on his perch.

Osprey are actually a type of hawk. They are spring and summer residents of the Centennial State and other spots in the United States. 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 male Osprey makes a picture perfect landing at St Vrain State Park in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Osprey makes a picture perfect landing at St Vrain State Park in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Suburban Wild Turkey gets its closeup

That’s a face only a mother could love, right? 😀

On the way home from playing ballet taxi for my daughter this evening, I happened across one of the toms from a nearby rafter of turkeys. He made for a quick, fun photo subject and, also gave me a chance to test out my Sigma 150-600 Sports since I calibrated the lens’ autofocus system with a product called FoCal from Reikan.

Continued testing will be the determining factor but on this first outing I have to say I am impressed. This was taken at 600mm from a distance of about 20 yards and is cropped at about 50%. You can make out tons of detail in the bird’s skin and count the hairs coming off its head.

Closeup of a Turkey tom in Thornton, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Closeup of a Turkey tom in Thornton, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

She’s got eyes for me

Perhaps I should be flattered, eh? 😉 This pretty Mule Deer doe was grazing recently on the Colorado plains and paid me quite a bit of attention. I don’t expect it was my startling good looks though that had her on alert.

A Mule Deer doe in the soft morning light. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Mule Deer doe in the soft morning light. (© Tony’s Takes)

Video slideshow: Bald Eagles go fishing on the Colorado plains

I shared one of the images from a couple weekends ago when a bunch of these majestic raptors were fishing a private pond in Adams County, Colorado. It is hard to come up with a way to show entire, dramatic sequences like I captured so I have put them into a video slideshow.

In this, you see four Bald Eagles come in and try their hand at fishing, three attempts were successful. While I kept the pace fast, the action occurs much quicker in real life. For instance, the first sequence you see is 33 images. From start to finish, in real time, that action lasted only 7 seconds! These guys move fast to say the least!

I hope you enjoy your Freedom Friday.

Male Northern Harrier guards its roadkill breakfast

A chance encounter with this Gray Ghost from back in December. Raptors are quite opportunistic and don’t mind taking advantage of another creature’s misfortune. Such was the case here with a rabbit that failed to make it across the road. The hawk got itself a meal out of the deal and didn’t have to exert any effort to get it.

You may recall this same hawk as one that I posted pictures of when it found itself under attack by another male harrier over the meal. That was a fun series of images you might want to check out here.

A male Northern Harrier jealously guards a dead rabbit it found on the road. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Northern Harrier jealously guards a dead rabbit it found on the road. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Northern Harrier jealously guards a dead rabbit it found on the road. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Northern Harrier jealously guards a dead rabbit it found on the road. (© Tony’s Takes)