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Bighorn Sheep

Happy 140th birthday, Colorado!

On this date in 1876, the Centennial State was admitted to the union, becoming this great nation’s 38th state. It is, to me, very fitting to have the Bighorn Sheep as Colorado’s official animal. Just like the terrain and many of its people, these animals are very rugged, strong and tough.

The animal is found in many places in the state’s high country. Diseases from European livestock and overhunting had caused the animal’s population to drop precipitously by the early 1900s. Thankfully conservation efforts have been successful in helping the sheep rebound since then.

This particular ram was lounging near the top of Trail Ridge Road last August.

A Bighorn Sheep rests at the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep rests at the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Little Bighorn plays king of the mountain

This very young Bighorn Sheep lamb and his playmate were hanging out with a group of eight ewes in the Disaster Point area of Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.

The pair were quite entertaining as they bounded around the side of the hill and seemed quite fascinated by the fact they were being watched. Here, one of them stands up high, just before bounding down below and running into its buddy. The two were so darned cute!

A Bighorn Sheep lamb looks down on its playmate near Disaster Point in Jasper National Park, Canada. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep lamb looks down on its playmate near Disaster Point in Jasper National Park, Canada. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bighorn ram on the run

Bighorn Sheep are among the more sure-footed creatures you will ever find. They are able to easily climb up and down the sheerest faces without missing a beat or slipping once. On flatter surfaces, they run with an authority and speed that gets your attention as they are sizable creatures and all muscle.

This big fella and a dozen of his bachelor friends were hanging out at the top of Glacier National Park’s Logan Pass a couple of weeks ago when we were visiting. They put on quite a show as they navigated the tourist hoards. This was one of the more senior of the herd and he and another were jogging through one of the remaining patches of snow at the top of the 6,647 foot pass.

A Bighorn Sheep ram runs across an area of snow on Logan Pass in Glacier National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram runs across an area of snow on Logan Pass in Glacier National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

King of the mountain

It is ‘hump day’ and being coupled with the first full workweek after the holidays it feels like we are climbing a mountain. So, in honor of that, I present a very able mountain climber – the Bighorn Sheep ram.

This handsome guy is striking a classic pose showcasing its powerful body and ability to navigate even the roughest terrain. I don’t know about you, but those are traits I wish I had. 😉

The Bighorn Sheep is found in many places in Colorado’s high country and it is the state’s official animal. Diseases from European livestock and overhunting had caused the animal’s population to drop precipitously by the early 1900s. Thankfully conservation efforts have been successful in helping it rebound since then.

A Bighorn Sheep ram stands tall on the side of a mountain in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram stands tall on the side of a mountain in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bighorn ram stands tall and proud

From the top of a cliff some 40 feet above me, this Bighorn Sheep ram looked quite majestic. The rugged animal is accented by the red rocks he is standing on and the brilliant blue sky behind him.

This particular ram is one of the younger ones in the herd that maintains its residence in Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver, Colorado.

The Bighorn Sheep is found in many places in the state’s high country. Diseases from European livestock and overhunting had caused the animal’s population to drop precipitously by the early 1900s. Thankfully conservation efforts have been successful in helping it rebound since then.

A Bighorn Sheep ram stands proudly on the side of a mountain. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram stands proudly on the side of a mountain. (© Tony’s Takes)

He’ll be comin’ down the mountain when he comes…

He’ll be comin’ down the mountain when he comes… And he likely is not something you want to get in front of.

This Bighorn Sheep ram appeared to be content watching the people from above when it suddenly decided it wanted to get a lower perspective.

Rams can weigh almost 300 pounds and given that when they charge each other they do so at over 30mph, I was more than willing to give him a wide berth. It is amazing to me how agile an hooved animal can be, especially on such uneven and rocky terrain.

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram scampers down the side of Waterton Canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bighorn Sheep ram strikes a classic pose

It is, to me, very fitting to have Bighorn Sheep as Colorado’s official animal and this pose is just about perfect. Just like the terrain and many of its people, these animals are very rugged, strong and tough.

This particular ram was one of several hanging out in Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver this past Monday. I missed them on my way up the canyon but on the way back they were clearly visible on the side of the canyon. All-in-all I rode over 13 miles on my bike that day, far more than what I would have needed to if I saw them on the first pass. Nevertheless, it was well worth it.

The Bighorn Sheep is found in many places in the state’s high country. Diseases from European livestock and overhunting had caused the animal’s population to drop precipitously by the early 1900s. Thankfully conservation efforts have been successful in helping the sheep rebound since then.

A Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep ram keeps watch over the canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep ram keeps watch over the canyon. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bighorn Sheep ram relieves itself

A photographic lesson about paying close attention to exactly what your subject is doing.

Fantastic high altitude mountains. Check. Powerful wildlife subject. Check. Subject in a majestic pose. Check. All looks good, the Bighorn Sheep is standing rock solid still. Click the shutter.

You get home and process the pictures and you then see exactly why that ram was holding so still. 😉 A bit of a Friday funny for you.

A Bighorn Sheep ram relieves itself in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram relieves itself in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

“What? Do I have something stuck in my teeth?”

A Bighorn Sheep ewe chomps on pieces of a bush it was snacking on.  This pretty lady was hanging out in Waterton Canyon, Colorado yesterday along with a friend and a lamb. In a few more weeks the rams will start making their appearance and begin gearing up for the annual rut.

"What? Do I have something stuck in my teeth?" A Bighorn Sheep ewe chomps on pieces of a bush it was snacking on. (© Tony’s Takes)

“What? Do I have something stuck in my teeth?” A Bighorn Sheep ewe chomps on pieces of a bush it was snacking on. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bighorn Sheep stake out high altitude residence

With more mountain peaks over 14,000 feet high, it is fitting that #Colorado chose this creature as their official state animal. Bighorn Sheep love the rarified air at high altitude and their rugged lifestyle seems appropriate for the Centennial State.

I was lucky enough to come across two Bighorn rams recently as they lounged around near the top of Trail Ridge Road (12,183 feet) in Rocky Mountain National Park. With no trees in the way thanks to their being way above timberline, I was able to capture many pics of them.

In the coming weeks they will undoubtedly move to lower altitudes and closer to the females. As they do, the males won’t likely be so tolerant of each other as they begin competing for the affection of the fairer sex. ?

A Bighorn Sheep ram lounges near the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep ram lounges near the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Very weathered and battle tested horns on this Bighorn Sheep Ram.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Very weathered and battle tested horns on this Bighorn Sheep Ram. (© Tony’s Takes)

The Bighorn Sheep rams gaze down the side of the mountain.  (© Tony’s Takes)

The Bighorn Sheep rams gaze down the side of the mountain. (© Tony’s Takes)