Sunday, August 28, 2011

Devil's Tower fauna

Husband Jim and I were able to spend a night out under the stars at Devil's Tower, Wyoming last week. We laughed when we drove into Devil's Tower National Monument and saw the sign above. But then we turned the corner and saw why.

These are black-tailed prairie dogs, which are very unlike the white-tailed prairie dogs on our place in western Wyoming. The black-tailed hold their tails erect, and do not have the black facial markings that are characteristic of the white-tailed dogs.

Our white-tailed dogs live in widely scattered burrow colonies out in high elevation sagebrush range, while the Devil's Tower black-tailed dogs live in low, grassy, dense colonies. They look different and I quickly noticed their vocalizations are very different as well. This is one of the fat black-tailed dogs from Devil's Tower.

This is a black-tailed prairie dog from Devil's Tower:

This is a white-tailed prairie dog from my driveway:

Other interesting encounters included a variety of grasshoppers, but I don't know the species:

I really enjoyed this black and yellow garden spider. Love the "alien" pattern:

Best of all were the turkey vultures. We have a few here, but I still love to see them. The dark-headed vulture is an immature.


BorderWars said...

Don't feed them... not because it's bad management policy, but because they really need to go on a diet.

Anonymous said...

BorderWars, prairie dogs shouldn't be expected to be held to the standards of Rodent Fashion magazines....and speaking of Prairie Dogs, I had quite a few adventures with them(Blacktails) in a zoo I worked at in Eastern Tennessee--they are incredibly interesting, and I could watch them all day. They also bite hard as Sh**!!!! Some bit right through heavy animal handling gloves we had. We always had predatory critters after our colony--hawks nailed a few now and then. I got a few foxes out of the exhibit, too(they could jump in, but not back out!). And one time I saw a HUGE Black Ratsnake sliding down a hole--I vaulted over the fence hoping to catch it--too late! I therefore expected a prairie dog or two to get ingested overnight--nope! Found what was left of the snake IN PIECES next morning, kicked out of the holes and scattered about!!....L.B.

Anonymous said...

That interesting grasshopper is actually a meadow katydid.