Gary and I went to Mt Evans on memorial Day weekend, but the weather wasn’t cooperative (almost whiteout conditions around Summit Lake) and we only saw a single pika (well, we weren’t sure he was single – he could have been married, but he was the only one we saw).
This was the only pika I saw today who was cooperative enough to pose for me. I do like the back lighting.
As they don’t hibernate, they must spend their brief summers gathering grasses and plants. When they gather plants, they stack them into tiny hay bales to dry in the sun, then store them for the winter. In larger pika communities, it’s not unusual for there to be disputes over ownership of the hay bales. These noisy conflicts are at times exploited by nearby predators.
Pikas are another species (like marmots) that are considered altruistic – they selflessly keep themselves in danger to bark out a warning to neighbors. They also bark out a warning if you get too close to their little hay bales. They emit a surprisingly loud “EENK!!!” if you get too close.
Pikas are endangered due to climate change. They’re considered a “canary in the coal mine” species and are very susceptible to climbing temperatures and seem to be moving to higher and higher altitudes to escape the heat. But there’s a limit to how high they can climb (eventually they run out of mountain). And because of the higher temperatures, they can’ t migrate to a higher peak as that would mean descending to a lower (and hotter) environment to do so.
Pika (Ochotona princeps)
Mt Evans Wilderness Area, CO
Sigma 300mm f/2.8+1.4TC
ISO400, 1/800sec, f/2.8