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Prairie Dog

Prairie Dog as a lone watchman

It can’t be easy being one of these creatures on the Great Plains. Threats abound as they are a food source for a wide variety of predators from eagles and hawks to fox and coyote. Man is an additional threat in many areas as Prairie Dogs are viewed as pests and can carry the plague. They are however a keystone species in many locations and critical to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Not only do many other species rely on them as food but others use their burrows for dens and nests. This particular Black-tailed Prairie Dog was up soon before sunrise recently, seeming to scout the immediate area to ensure it was safe for the rest of the colony to come out.

A Prairie Dog stands watch on the Great Plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Prairie Dog stands watch on the Great Plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Not your usual barking dog

We are all familiar with the bigger barking dogs in our neighborhoods. These guys prefer much less crowded environs but can be just as noisy when you intrude on their homes. Prairie Dogs are quite common here on the plains of Colorado and I usually completely ignore them. However, after having what was a less than successful photo day one day last week, I was desperate to capture pictures of something – anything. This little guy provided a good opportunity and I have to admit, it was kind of cute.

A Prairie Dog barks a warning to the colony in Thornton, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Prairie Dog barks a warning to the colony in Thornton, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bald Eagle dines and dashes

Sometimes just paying attention – and a bit of luck – yields some pretty awesome photo opportunities. Driving home from work yesterday I took a bit of a different route hoping something interesting might come along.

It was looking bleak and I had given up when I glance to my right and see an eagle in a tree of a county open space. I park and start to walk toward it and what do I see but a second eagle on a pole dining on Prairie Dog.

In the end I captured dozens of great images of both of them – this is the one that was eating.

I would have posted sooner but wouldn’t you know it but no sooner did I download these images yesterday evening than I suffered a hard drive failure on my computer! Thank goodness for backups although I have spent the past day slowly working to get things up and running again.

Taken in Thornton, Colorado.

A Bald Eagle stands on a pole while eating a Prairie Dog. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle stands on a pole while eating a Prairie Dog. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle stands on a pole keeping watch over its meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle stands on a pole keeping watch over its meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle listens to the call of another nearby eagle. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle listens to the call of another nearby eagle. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle takes flight with its meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle takes flight with its meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle takes flight with its meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle takes flight with its meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle takes flight with its meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle takes flight with its meal. (© Tony’s Takes)

Take out, anyone?

A Bald Eagle ensures it has a good grip on its prairie dog breakfast as it flies off. Taken in Adams County, Colorado yesterday.

A Bald Eagle checks it grip on a prairie dog it had caught. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle checks it grip on a prairie dog it had caught. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bald Eagles and a hawk battle in the air for a prairie dog meal

A very fun thing to witness. An adult Bald Eagle had snagged a prairie dog and as it attempted to fly off with it, three other eagles and a hawk chased it. One juvenile eagle managed to knock the prairie dog from the elder’s grasp but the adult dove and snatched it mid-air. The action was a good ways away so these images are cropped heavily.

Taken in Adams County, Colorado.  Scroll down to view the complete sequence of images.

Two Bald Eagles and a Hawk battle over a falling prairie dog. (© Tony’s Takes)

Two Bald Eagles and a Hawk battle over a falling prairie dog. (© Tony’s Takes)

Watchful Prairie Dog

Not a favorite photo subject of mine but with as prevalent as they are, you can’t help but train your lens on them every now and then. This particular one was – as they all are – very wary of my presence as I sat watching its neighboring Burrowing Owls.

A Prairie Dog keeps close watch from its burrow. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Prairie Dog keeps close watch from its burrow. (© Tony’s Takes)

A kiss for mama

A young Prairie Dog appears to be giving its mom a smooch. She had NINE little ones with her so no doubt she deserved a bit of kindness having to deal with that large of a brood. ;-)?

A young Prairie Dog appears to be giving its mother a kiss.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Prairie Dog appears to be giving its mother a kiss. (© Tony’s Takes)

Look! Up in the sky!

A Burrowing Owl and Prairie Dog keep watch on a pair of Swainson’s Hawks that were casing their neighborhood.

I was taking pictures of these two today when all of the Prairie Dogs started ‘barking’ incessantly. A look up revealed why as the two hawks circled repeatedly, likely looking for a meal. The Prairie Dogs all soon disappeared into their burrows while the owl didn’t seem particularly worried.

Taken north of Denver International Airport.

A Burrowing Owl and Prairie Dog keep watch on a pair of Swainson's Hawks that were casing their neighborhood. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Burrowing Owl and Prairie Dog keep watch on a pair of Swainson’s Hawks that were casing their neighborhood. (© Tony’s Takes)

Prairie dog – It’s whats for breakfast

Prairie dog. It’s whats for breakfast. This young Red Tailed Hawk was enjoying his meal in a lightly populated suburban area of northeast Denver this morning. Truly an absolutely amazing morning of picture taking (thanks once again to a friend’s tip) so there is much more to come.

Scroll down below the featured image for more of my encounter with this hawk.

A juvenile Red Tailed Hawk dines on prairie dog. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Red Tailed Hawk dines on prairie dog. (© Tony’s Takes)

Prairie dog camouflage

This little guy seemed to think a few blades of grass would be enough to hide him at Grand Teton National Park. Didn’t work so well.  For most folks in the west these rodents are considered pests but for some others, they can actually be quite a tourist attraction. They are kind of cute – if you can set aside the diseases they can carry and the damage they do.  😉

A Prairie Dog tries to conceal itself in some grass. © Tony’s Takes

A Prairie Dog tries to conceal itself in some grass. © Tony’s Takes