Feb 082010

elk blizzard

Winter in Yellowstone Park equates to critical survival skills for the wildlife there.   Food sources for wildlife in the middle of the food chain are limited if not dormant.  Temperatures can be so low that blinking and breathing are a risk for some animals.  The avoidance of being a meal for another species is ongoing and stressful.  The photo above shows how the conditions may be.  I took this shot in a blizzard.

Tired Elk

Imagine the winter conditions and carrying a load like this elk does on your head.  Tired and weary.  The photo reveals the exhaustion that exists.

Big Racks

Why do these elks stay together?  There are herds of elk cows and the bulls are elsewhere.   For protection?  I am not sure.  In this case these two probably represent the survival of the fittest.  Their reduced size and huge antlers tells a story endurance.

winter elk

Look close at the elk’s coat and neck size.  Even his stride seemed labored.  I look forward to seeing this one in the rut.  He will be back at the top of his game.

More Yellowstone Wildlife Tomorrow!

 Posted by at 10:01 PM
Feb 072010


We are going to build a store in Wyoming.  So “I” needed to go this week and start the ground work for the store.  I get teased a lot for assigning to myself any scope of work near Yellowstone.   I’m not too proud to say that this is mostly true.

Friday and Saturday was spent in Yellowstone.  Never having been in the park in the winter I was looking forward to this trip.  The only road open to four wheels starts at the north entrance at Gardiner, Montana and goes to Cooke City.  Some of the best wildlife viewing in the park.  It was an incredible two days.  For the next few days on my blog I will show the range of wildlife that I had the great opportunity to photograph.  And for those of you that follow my blog….stay tuned this week because one experience I had was very unique.  Not just for me but for any park visitor.

The coyote in these photographs was unusually animated.  In the park for these two days the theme was survival.  This coyote was not about to let his snack get the best of him.  It all started with the usual stopping and the back and forth tilting of the head.  The coyote has incredible hearing.  It in fact is pin pointing the sound of a varmint under the snow.  The give away of the upcoming leap is the coyote slowly moves his body weight back to his hind legs.  Then he springs forward!

Coyote Jump1

I have seen this hunting routine before.  The coyote lunges upward and forward burying his face in the snow.  On this occasion he took two leaps in sequence.

Coyote Jump2

In the snow goes the Coyote face and mouth.  Out comes the snack.

Coyote Lunch

Except this time the mouse BIT the coyote.  He dropped the mouse.  This photograph shows the expression of the coyote just as he was bit and dropping the mouse.

Coyote Bite

He was  not happy with the what was supposed to be his snack.  This photograph reveals his feeling toward the mouse.  The action afterwards I will choose to not post to protect the squeamish (like miss Nall).

Mad coyote Tomorrow a new adventure.  Another beautiful animal in Yellowstone (in winter conditions).

 Posted by at 9:54 PM
Feb 012010


Another great reason to live in the Wasatch Front!   The Harrier Hawk can be readily watched and photographed at the Bird Refuges of Utah.  As of late the areas are flooded with photographers hoping to get a “fun” shot of this bird.

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized hawk.
  • Long tail.
  • Long, slender, rounded wings.
  • White rump.
  • Flies low, with wings held up in slight “V.”

Male Description

Head, back, and upper chest light gray. Chest and belly white, usually with some rusty markings extending onto flanks. Wingtips black. Line of black on rear of wings. Underwings white. Tail darkish gray above and whitish below, with some barring. Rump white.

Female Description

Back dark brown, with many feathers edged with tawny. Face streaked brown and whitish. Face outlined by white facial disk. Chest and belly streaked dirty white and tan. Rump white. Upper side of wings brown, lower side barred white and dark brown. Tail brown with dark bars.


Immature Description

Juvenile similar to adult female, but with rusty wash across mostly unstreaked underparts.

Cool Facts

  • Most male Northern Harriers are mated to one or two females at the same time. Some males pair with up to five mates in a season. Females incubate the eggs and brood the offspring, while the male provides the bulk of the food for his mates and their nestlings.
  • Unlike other hawks, the Northern Harrier relies on its hearing as well as its vision to capture prey. The feathers of the face are stiff to help transmit sound, and it shows a pronounced “facial disk,” much like that of an owl.
  • The Northern Harrier feeds primarily on mice, other small mammals, and small birds. It will, however, take larger prey, such as rabbits and ducks. It has been known to subdue large prey by drowning it.
 Posted by at 9:57 PM