Florist Wanna-Be’s

Towards the end of my Mount Evans photo trip, I found a sweet spot where American Pikas (Ochotona princeps) were bountiful and busy … collecting wildflowers and grasses. For those not familiar with the pika, they are very small mammals, about 7″ to 8″ in length, weighing 4-5 ounces. They look eerily similar to miniature rabbits, giving them common names of “whistling hare”, or “piping hare”, due to their high-pitched “squeaks”. They live only in high altitudes (usually 8,000 to 13,000 feet), along talus slides of loose rock. The main predator of the pika is the weasel.

One of the behaviors of the pika is that they collect plant greens, then scurry back to boulders near their homes, where they lay them out to dry in the sun, curing the “hay”. Once dried, the “hay” is stored inside the den, deep among the rocks. Since pikas do not hibernate, it uses the dried and stored vegetation as a food source during the winter.

Here are a few images I captured of the pikas as they scurried about, collecting wildflowers/grasses and returning to the rocks.

The collection begins:

American Pika collecting wildflowers and grasses

Once the mouth is full, the pika begins his journey back to the rocks, stopping at several rocks along the way:

American Pika with wildflowers

American Pika with wildflowers

Any good florist knows that a good flower arrangement needs some greenery, too:

American Pika with wildflowers

I was also able to get some close encounters with these little guys on the trip. I’ll feature some closeups in another post.  :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF100mm-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6, IS + Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 560mm
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 800 (all photos)
  • Aperture f/8 (all photos)
  • Shutter 1/250 sec. to 1/1000 sec.



Posted in Mammals, Nature Photography, Travel Photography, Wildflowers
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