Alarms For The Prairie Trickster

This coyote visited the prairie dog town where I was set up for burrowing owls. Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR, CO

Today I was sitting in my blind watching holes since oh-dark-thirty like I frequently do, when a chorus of alarms sounded. I suppose prairie dogs have a different alarm for coyotes than a Swainson’s hawk, but it all sounds the same to me – there’s an intruder – be ready to dive in your burrrow. Their chirping becomes urgent, louder, a higher pitch, more intense; and it’s everyone at once, starting with the sentries. I was watching a burrow being used by burrowing owls, and waiting for chicks to emerge from their underground nest for the first time. I didn’t see the chicks yet, but there’s always something entertaining happening in a prairie dog town. My time with the coyote was short, just a few seconds that interrupted a cacophony of black-tailed prairie dog chirping and sweet melodies of Western meadowlarks and horned larks… and an occasional jet from DIA. The prairie is so alive in late spring – a remarkable time of year!

This black-tailed prairie dog was right next to my blind and I photographed him backlit in early morning light just before the coyote showed up.

Prairie dogs have a highly developed social structure and communication skills, probably better than a lot of people!

6 thoughts on “Alarms For The Prairie Trickster

    1. Thanks Michael, and I appreciate the heads-up on Plainview Road – one of those special places that no one knows about… almost nobody. I’m guessing paintbrush, arnica, and blkanketflower are prominent. What did you see?

    1. Thanks Jack! I used my 600mm with a 1.4x teleconverter just to be able to get fairly close. My blind has been sitting in that location for almost a week and they keep some distance – and have plenty of holes and burrows to choose from.

  1. I was out at the Arsenal this morning taking a tour of the burrowing owls and just enjoying the heck of out myself. Then, Sherry, our guide started talking to a photographer in the group about you and said you had come back to your blind one day and found a group of chicks sitting on top of it and taken their picture. Is it posted anywhere on your site? Thanks for the great pictures?

    1. Hi Katy, I’m glad to hear you had a great time at RMA, one of the truly special places in our neck of the woods. The picture Sherry told you about was run in Outdoor Photographer Magazine as “Rocky Mountain Hooters” in Last Frame and was a result of (me) showing up after sunrise. The chicks were close to fledging and used my blind as a hunting platform because it was the tallest thing in the prairie dog town. I’ll post the image here in the next day or two – thanks for asking about it!

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