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!