On a recent drive through grasslands close to home we encountered a nice sized herd of Pronghorn enjoying the morning sun. Looking at them looking back at us you could just feel their different expressions whispering a bit of that Pronghorn personality.
The Rough-Legged Hawk is a resident in our area during the winter months as they breed in the Arctic and migrate south to the Northern United States and Southern Canada for winter. We usually see them soaring and sometimes hovering in the air hunting in a similar fashion to the much smaller American Kestrel. It was nice to see this one sitting still for a bit so we could get a nice look as like many hawks identification if difficult and something we are not very confident in.
While the big guys with the full curls were somewhere up in the hills above these two teenage Bighorn Sheep descended the hills, made their way through the sage brush, and then headed our direction across the grasslands below. A bit wary, yet curious, they confidently approached little by little.
They had a bit of gleam in their eyes and a look that somehow said they might be looking for trouble.
A couple teenagers with time on their hands and on the prowl.
As they inched by us we each kept our distance and you could certainly see the different personalities reflected in the way they looked us over. The first gave us a head on glance and stood for awhile the second a sideways looks as he steadily marched on through.
It is always a bit shocking to see a Golden Eagle perched up high on a power pole. From some distance away you can notice those broad shoulders and instantly identify them. They are just so darn large.
We are lucky to always have a few Golden Eagles living nearby especially in the non-breeding season. Especially when the weather is mild like it has been so far this winter.
Golden eagles typically hunt small mammals including rabbits, ground squirrels, marmots and prairie dogs. Golden eagles are found from sea level to higher mountain regions but typically regions of open space such as grasslands, desert and high steppe regions. This Eagle was perched upon a power pole overlooking a large expanse of winter farmland waiting for the next meals to appear.
Usually the locals fly away before we even get the camera pointed out the car window but this day we were lucky as this Eagle allowed us a nice long look and several photos as well.
Katzner, T. E., M. N. Kochert, K. Steenhof, C. L. McIntyre, E. H. Craig, and T. A. Miller (2020). Golden Eagle(Aquila chrysaetos), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.goleag.02
A mountain Chickadee pauses in the junipers as the sun shines bright on what to now has been a much drier and warmer winter than usual. We suspect the snow will come and temperatures will drop but until then the birds are catching a break and we can all use a break from time to time.
Looking a little sly this Male Canvasback seemed to be taking a break form the water yet poised to hop back in while resting at the edge of the ice. Notice the band on this guy, he is special and I wonder what story his band will tell.
A couple of fine fishermen, just hanging out, doing what fine fishermen do. Waiting patiently and strike when the time is right. Above is the Ringed Kingfisher which is the largest species of Kingfisher in the Americas measuring about 16 inches making it about 2-3 inches larger than the similar looking Belted Kingfisher. The Ringed Kingfisher has gradually expended their habitat Northwards and now can be commonly seen along the lower Rio Grande in Texas.
Another fine fisherman is the relatively small Green Kingfisher which is less than half the size of the Ringed Kingfisher photographed above. Unlike the Ringed Kingfisher the Green Kingfisher number may be on the decline as stream habitat is decreasing. A small bird with a large bill to say the least.