Meet My March Mammals

The way I deal with the stresses of life is by spending as much time in nature as possible, away from (most) people. We are fortunate to live in a quasi-rural rather than an urban area, with access to plentiful parks and open spaces, where it’s relatively easy to avoid crowds. It is what I have done for years—and intend to continue.

Um mit den Herausforderungen des Lebens fertigzuwerden, verbringe ich so viel Zeit wie möglich in der Natur, weit weg von (den meisten) Menschen. Glücklicherweise leben wir in einer eher ländlichen Gegend und nicht einer Großstadt, und haben Zugang zu Parks und weiteren Freiräumen. Dort ist es relativ leicht, Menschenmengen aus dem Weg zu gehen, was ich schon seit Jahren tue, und was zu ändern ich nicht vorhabe.

My ornithophilia is well-known to most of you, but I also seek and enjoy encounters with featherless creatures. From my photo files come the following images of mammals I met in March, whose company brought me happy moments and smiles. Until I arrayed them for this post, I hadn’t noticed that they, too, are mono- or dichromatic, not unlike our late winter vegetation.

Meine Liebe zu Vögeln ist vielen unter Euch bekannt, doch halte ich auch nach federlosen Kreaturen Ausschau, und erfreue mich an Begegnungen mit ihnen. Aus meiner Photodatei stammen die folgenden Bilder derjenigen Säugetiere, die mir im März begegnet sind, und deren Gesellschaft mir frohe Momente bescherten und mich zum Lächeln brachten. Bis ich sie für diesen Blogbeitrag aussuchte, war mir nicht aufgefallen, daß auch sie mono- oder dichromatisch sind, so ähnlich wie unsere spätwinterliche Vegetation.

Fox Squirrels are ubiquitous, occurring in our yard and most public spaces, and they are curious and tame enough to be fairly easy to photograph. Not so Red Foxes, whose local numbers have dropped precipitously in recent years, owing to disease. When I detected this duo at the cemetery, of all places, it was my first sighting in several years. The healthy-appearing vulpines granted me just enough time to engage my camera twice or thrice before they performed a vanishing trick.

Fuchshörnchen sind weitverbreitet, und kommen in unserem Garten und den meisten öffentlichen Parks vor. Ihre Neugier und Zahmheit erleichtern es, sie zu photographieren. Anders sieht es mit Rotfüchsen aus, deren hiesige Population in den letzten Jahren aus Krankheitskgründen stark gefallen ist. Als ich dieses Duo ausgerechnet auf dem Friedhof entdeckte, war es die erste Sichtung seit einigen Jahren. Die gesund aussehenden Füchse gestatteten mir gerade genug Zeit, meine Kamera einige Male auszulösen, bevor sie von dannen zogen.

Most walks across our prairie are enriched by the voluminous vocalizations and amusing antics of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs. Their language is complex, and long before I hear or see them, they have already communicated my potentially dangerous arrival to their associates. Pronghorn, their neighbors, are far quieter. They are often wrongly referred to as antelope, but those exist only in Africa and Eurasia. Instead, these fastest land mammals of North America are the only representatives of the family Antilocapridae. Prairie dogs and Pronghorn alike are wary of humans—with good reason—but are quite photogenic from a distance.

Die meisten Spaziergänge durch unsere Prärie werden von voluminösen Vokalisationen und possierlichen Possen der Präriehunde bereichert. Deren Sprache ist komplex, und lange bevor ich sie höre oder sehe, haben sie meine potentiell mit Gefahren verbundene Ankunft bereits an ihre Gesellen kommuniziert. Gabelböcke, ihre Nachbarn, sind viel leiser. Sie werden of fälschlicherweise als Antilopen bezeichnet, doch die existieren nur in Afrika und Eurasien. Stattdessen sind diese schnellsten Landsäugetiere Nordamerikas die einzigen Vertreter der Familie “Antilocapridae”. Sowohl Präriehunde als auch Gabelböcke nehmen sich vor Menschen in Acht—aus guten Gründen—doch beide Arten sind von einer sicheren Distanz aus sehr fotogen.

The existence of farms and ranches also ensures the presence of many domesticated animals, and this curious calf (a Galloway, according to my Dad) and no less inquisitive donkey were eyeing me as attentively as I them.

Die Existenz von Farmen und Ranches stellen die Präsenz vieler domestizierter Tiere sicher, und dieses neugierige Kälbchen (ein Galloway, laut meinem Vater) und der nicht minder interessierte Esel schauten mich so aufmerksam an wie ich sie.

Thank you, my furry friends, for being there, and for allowing me glimpses into your lives.

Ich danke Euch, meine in Felle gekleideten Freunde. Dafür, daß Ihr da seid, und mir Einblicke in Eure Leben gewährt.

57 thoughts on “Meet My March Mammals

    • Didn’t I say the squirrels were ubiquitous? 🙂
      And as Colorado Springs sits between the foothills and the prairie, prairie dogs are commonly encountered, especially just east of town. Though a very sad fact is that their numbers have been declining because of the insane construction going on along Colorado’s Front Range. Where humans build their towns, those of prairie dogs have to yield. 😪

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    • Dankeschön, liebe Brigitte, es freut mich, daß Dir die Bilder gefallen. Ich bin dankbar, noch in freier Natur laufen zu können. Absoluter Stubenarrest würde mir sehr, sehr schwerfallen.
      Ich hoffe, Du kannst weiterhin Deine Spaziergänge genießen, ohne anderen Menschen zu nahe zu kommen.
      Auch ich wünsche Euch gute Gesundheit.
      Sei herzlich gegrüßt,
      Tanja

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    • I was VERY excited about these beautiful foxes, Pooja. That particular encounter was in early March when we did, indeed, still have some snow. Not now, though some might fall today or tomorrow, but it will melt on impact, as it has been warm for the last week.

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  1. Oh My! What great pics! We don’t have prairie dogs around here, but I can only imagine how entertaining they must be! And squirrels, well, what would life be like without them? Such an uplifting post. Hope you are well and safe. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry for the delayed response, Nirmala.
      I find it helpful to use a regional or state wildlife guide. Once you narrow down an animal you encounter to reptile, bird, or mammal, you can flip through the pages of the guide until you find a photo that matches what you saw.
      A more modern way would be to use an app. As I don’t own a smart phone, I’m not familiar with any, but I’m sure they exist. I know there are plant apps–you take a photo of a plant, and it will give you the ID, or at least narrow it down to a few plants.
      There are also websites where you can submit a photo of animals, and an expert will help ID them for you (iNaturalist is one: https://www.inaturalist.org/).
      I hope this helps.
      Best wishes,
      Tanja

      Liked by 1 person

      • No worries. Thank you for your detailed response, Tanja! I used a Reddit thread to learn the names of three succulents I bought recently. It was time-consuming (I combed through others’ photos, instead of uploading pics of my plants), but fun. 😀 I’ve always been impressed by your knowledge of animals, so I thought I’d ask how you do it. I think I should buy a pocket animal/ plant guide too.

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  2. Lucky you to have so many furry friends, Tanja. And prairie dogs! Of course, having been in the east for my entire life, save for one visit to the S.F./Yosemite area, I have never seen one live. From watching wildlife films though I think they are fascinating and would love to be able to photograph them. I know they are not popular with ranchers for their burrowing but we are the imposers and they were here first. Thanks for sharing your friends. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Steve. I do feel very lucky, and I think you would have much fun spending time in a prairie dog town and taking photos to your heart’s content. The dogs are very amusing to watch, and extremely photogenic.
      I share your assessment about humans being the imposers. But we act as if everything has to make room for us, at any cost. It makes me so incredibly sad.
      Stay well,
      Tanja

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  3. After the fox squirrel died, a prairie dog became part of my life for a while, and it was an experience. I didn’t choose it, and there were several reasons it wasn’t a good idea, but the friend who showed up with it didn’t know any of those reasons, and it worked out all right. I’ll say this — the need to dig and the love of digging is strong, and if there’s no nice earth available, any sofa or mattress will do! Diet’s an issue, too. They can’t have too much protein, and so on and so forth. I’ve forgotten a lot of the details now, but I do remember that raw sweet potato went over pretty well.

    There’s quite a prairie dog town in Lubbock, in the middle of town. It’s been turned into a sort of preserve, and people go down to watch them.

    Eastern gray squirrels are moving into this area now. Do you have them? They’re smaller than fox squirrels, gray with a white belly, and are sometimes known as cat squirrels because of one of their calls: a mewing sound that’s remarkably cat-like. I heard one the other day — in fact, it may have been you I told about it. My memory doesn’t always serve me well!

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    • What an amazing if taxing experience that must have been living with a prairie dog! It might be a great story for a book–in your spare time! 🙂
      Vast stretches of Colorado still have prairie dog towns, but human infringement being what it is, the colonies are–sadly–decreasing.
      As far as the Eastern Gray Squirrel, I don’t remember having seen one in Colorado, at least not knowingly. I will keep my eyes (and ears) open!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Donna. And thank goodness the animals are spared this particular virus, which does not mean they don’t have their own, and multiple other threats. But I’m grateful for each and every creature that is alive and well.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right about animals, Melissa. I definitely don’t want to live in a world without them.
      I think the foxes suffered from some type of mange, but these two had a nice, shiny coat, so I hope they were and are still doing well.
      Best wishes,
      Tanja

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How lovely is your prairie walk! Until this post, I had not thought about the many wildlife one can find in such a landscape. Happy to hear that you are located close to nature during this time. I too am lucky that I can be outdoors without endangering other people. Wishing you well!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tanja – I hope this comment finds you and your family doing well. I enjoy your photos of animals so much. I never seem to be fast enough to capture my furry friends on film. Today I went for a drive to see if some hiking trails were open. (Some of the trails in my area have been closed.) I was delighted to find that they were. As a bonus I saw two deer running across an open meadow. It thrills my heart to see furry friends the wild. Take care my dear friend. -Jill

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jill, I’m glad you enjoyed my photos. We are doing ok, and I hope the same is true for you and your loved ones. And I hope you will be able to fit in some hikes. I escape into nature all the time, it’s my basic modus operandi.
      Stay well.
      Tanja 🌸

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