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Pika

Extreme closeup of one of the high country’s smallest creatures

It is pretty rare that the tiny American Pika stops long enough for you to compose a nice closeup. This particular one though did just that for me back in August. Despite the fact I was hanging out mere feet from its den, it seemed to revel in all the attention I was giving it and was very comfortable with me.

More than once we shared the same rock in the talus field as it would scurry right by me, sometimes pausing, sometimes rushing about gathering food to stash in its den for the season.

One time it made me a bit uncomfortable by actually stopping and resting on my foot! I couldn’t help but worry about the little dude scurrying up my pant leg. Ha! Unfortunately that was too close for my lens to focus to get it sitting there but it was kind of fun.

Right now these little ones are staying warm inside their dens, many probably under the snow by now. They don’t hibernate so rely on food they gathered during the summer months to sustain them.

Closeup of an American Pika in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Closeup of an American Pika in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Well, that’s a mouthful!

This cute American Pika provided me an hour worth of entertainment last month. It knew the change of seasons was coming and was busily gathering food for the coming winter. Back and forth it would go from its burrow to the small patches of grass and flowers that dotted the talus field where it lives. As you can tell, it tried to make the most out of each trip. 😉

With snow now having fallen in the high country at their homes, these little guys are going to be furiously working to prep for their long wait until spring.

With a mouthful of food in its mouth, an American Pika works its way back to its home.  (© Tony’s Takes)

With a mouthful of food in its mouth, an American Pika works its way back to its home. (© Tony’s Takes)

Little critter, big bark

Arguably one of the most entertaining creatures you will find in the high country – the American Pika.

These little guys are incredibly animated and always on the move. From the time they emerge from their burrows in the spring, they immediately begin preparing for the next winter, gathering food and stashing it away.

This past weekend, I spent an hour or so with this particular one near the top of Trail Ridge Road. It was quite tolerant of me, approaching at times within a foot of me, sometimes pausing to check me out and make sure I meant no harm but largely going about its busy work.

On one trip looking for food, it paused nearby, looked at me, and gave me a quick ‘bark’ – the distinctive sound that is almost like a chirp that they make. I’m not sure what message it was trying to convey, perhaps just letting me know how tough it was and that I better not pull anything. 😉

An American Pika barks, sounding off a warning to anyone and anything nearby.  (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Pika barks, sounding off a warning to anyone and anything nearby. (© Tony’s Takes)

“And just what do you think you are doing?”

Life at 14,000 feet isn’t for the faint of heart as conditions can be tough. Temperatures are oftentimes quite cold, even in the summer. So, when that sun comes up and finally starts to warm things up a bit, the wildlife takes advantage of it. This little American Pika was quick to emerge when the sun hit near its home and it then spent some time just taking in the warmth. However, it seemed a bit less than thrilled about the human with a camera intruding on its morning peace. 😉

An American Pika checks out the photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Pika checks out the photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

Posing Pika

When I go to the high country, I always make time to pay these little ones a visit. They are so energetic and entertaining. This one was taking a very brief brake from gathering nesting material while at the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park back in August.

It is said this species of pika may become a victim of a warming climate. Studies suggest the American Pika is being driven to higher elevations in search of cooler temperatures. As it moves higher however, it could eventually run out of places to go.

An American Pika poses for pictures on a rock near the top of Trail Ridge Road. (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Pika poses for pictures on a rock near the top of Trail Ridge Road. (© Tony’s Takes)

Playing hide and seek with one of the high country’s smallest residents

These little guys are highly entertaining, when you can get them to cooperate. The American Pika is typically found above timberline in talus fields darting up and down and around the big rocks. I’ve found that it is usually best to just plop your butt down in the middle of a spot where they likely are and wait. It doesn’t take long for them to forget you are there and they then go about their business.

This little one popped its head out only 10 feet from me and sat there, contemplating what the big form was intruding on its domain. It quickly backtracked finding another route that wasn’t quite so close.

An American Pika peers out from its hiding spot. (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Pika peers out from its hiding spot. (© Tony’s Takes)

Pika pokes its head out

This little guy (or gal) and I played hide and seek for a good while on top Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park last month. I sat patiently in a talus field on a chilly morning well above timberline knowing these little ones would eventually make an appearance.

Fleeting glimpses were all I was having for the longest time and then finally, curiosity got the best of this one. It would pop its head up, have a quick look at me, then disappear. A few seconds later it would then pop back up a few feet away behind a different rock.

This process repeated itself a few times before it finally got brave and realized I meant it no harm. Ever so cautiously it emerged, eventually coming up and sitting on the rock only a few feet away. Together we sat and enjoyed the warmth of the sun and a nice, quiet morning in the Rocky Mountains.

An American Pika cautiously emerges from behind a rock on Trail Ridge Road in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Pika cautiously emerges from behind a rock on Trail Ridge Road in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

"Whoa! Where did you come from?"

A little American Pika seems a bit surprised to find a photographer in its area. 😉

From last weekend. My wife and I were hanging out on a talus field watching a few of these guys go about gathering food and nesting material for the winter. They largely ignored us and this particular one, didn’t seem to notice us despite being just five feet away. It was looking the other way as I started taking pictures but then turned quickly when it heard my camera. It definitely didn’t seem to be expecting us.

It is said this species of pika may become a victim of a warming climate. Studies suggest the American Pika is being driven to higher elevations in search of cooler temperatures. As it moves higher however, it could eventually run out of places to go.

Taken in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

An American Pika is on alert after noticing a photographer in its area.  (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Pika is on alert after noticing a photographer in its area. (© Tony’s Takes)

Little critter, big whiskers

I never realized the whiskers on these cute little things were so darned long! Goodness!

I happened across this American Pika near the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. It was quite content to take a break and take in the warmth of the early morning sun.

These guys are working fast and furious now as soon their high altitude homes will begin the transition to much colder weather.

It is said this species of pika may become a victim of a warming climate. Studies suggest the American Pika is being driven to higher elevations in search of cooler temperatures. As it moves higher however, it could eventually run out of places to go.

An American Pika enjoys the warmth of the early morning sun on Trail Ridge Road.  (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Pika enjoys the warmth of the early morning sun on Trail Ridge Road. (© Tony’s Takes)

Little Pika takes in the early morning sun at high altitude

I made a quick trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park and Trail Ridge Road yesterday. While had little luck with ‘big’ wildlife, the smaller creatures provided plenty of opportunities. Among them was this cute, little Pika who took a brief break from gathering food to take in the rising sun.

There was definitely a feeling of fall in the air at 12,000 feet as temperatures were only in the mid-30s in the hour or so after the sun rose. I didn’t linger long as I had failed to bring appropriate gear for that kind of chill!

An American Pika takes in the early morning sun on a cold morning in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Pika takes in the early morning sun on a cold morning in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)