Friday, June 25, 2010

Prairie Animals and their Homes

As well as 25 species of Life Birds, I also picked up four Life Mammals in North Dakota. The first was on our drive from the Minneapolis-St.Paul airport to Carrington, ND., when we stopped for a late lunch and a rest break at a Subway in West Fargo. (Not to be confused with that movie by a similar name.)

In a suburban yard, we saw this odd looking rabbit, and three weary travelers and eager naturalists in training whipped out their cameras for a photo op.
Later, on the prairie, we saw many of these White-tailed jackrabbits running across the fields or down the road, but I will never forget my first sight of one.

A Meadow Vole scurried out from under my feet in a field one day, too quick for a picture. Lifer!

My life Richardson's ground squirrels were
too far away for a photo, but this Thirteen-lined ground squirrel obligingly posed for his portrait.While he wasn't a Life Mammal, this handsome 2 year old male black Lab was one of the friendliest dogs of the trip, and made me miss my two girls.For Susan, a Dead Mammal, this road-kill raccoon which marked the spot where I saw my first ever Loggerhead Shrike. You can't believe the grief I took from the other people on the bus when I took this picture. Only for you, Susan.

One mammal that got away was the badger, although I saw plenty of their burrows. These holes were big, but hidden in the grass. Stepping in one could severely twist your ankle, if not break it altogether.
Other animal homes were occupied, like this Swainson's Hawk on her nest.I also saw a Ferruginous Hawk nest, complete with two eaglets. Unfortunately, while they were visible in my scope, they were too far away for a photo.

These holes in the bank are the home of Bank Swallows.
What do Cliff Swallows do without a cliff to nest on? Why, they build their jug-like nests of mud under the eaves of an old farmhouse, that's what.
Look at that detail. How can birds build something so fine with only their bills?

As well as keeping a Life List of all the birds I have seen, I also keep a Nest List - those birds I have seen on, or building, their nests. With the addition of both hawks, Red-necked Grebe, and American Coot, I have boosted my Nest List to 51 species.

Coming up: Birds of the prairie

1 comment:

Susan Gets Native said...

LMAO over here....
Thank you Kathi, for the dead animal photo. I hope you explained that it was for your weird friend.
And you will always remember that dead raccoon as the spot where you got that lifer.
I'm glad to help. :)