Baby Pika

Jay Ryser

Lakewood, United States

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I’ve had almost no success in finding pikas so far this summer – they’re one of my staple critters over the summer months. We had a really extended winter in the mountains, and everything seems to be a few weeks behind (including newborn kids and lambs and growth of alpine flowers and plants). I’d seen fleeting glimpses of pikas, and could hear them in the talus, I just couldn’t get any images.

I took the day off work today and headed up Mt Evans (my summer home), looking primarily for pikas. I spotted one at about 12,000ft, but the light was bad and he was uninterested in posing.

I went to my default talus field looking for pikas (where Larry the Pika lives, at just over 14,000ft), and hung around for 30-40 minutes looking for pikas. The sun was shining and the wind wasn’t too bad, so it wasn’t hard hanging out.

I was about to pack up when someone staggered by and asked what I was trying to photograph. “Pikas,” I immediately replied, and launched into my usual pika spiel. “Is that one?”_, they replied, after my rant, pointing a few feet behind me.

Yup, there he was, just a few feet behind and below me. He’s a tiny little guy, with fairly dark gray fur, rather than the caramel colored fur of late summer. Pikas are awake all year and do not hibernate. They breed about a month before the snow starts to melt and have about a 30-day gestation. Pikas are usually weaned at a little over 2 weeks. The math works out about right to have him out on his own now.

I haven’t seen the parents anywhere. I’m pretty familiar with them, and know their routes and perches and can usually set up the camera to capture images fairly easily. This little guy hasn’t had a chance to establish routes, so he was all over the place in the talus – and so was I, trying to keep up with him. I abandoned the tripod and was hanging over boulders and running back and forth in the talus trying to keep up with him.

He’s a cute little guy – I hope I can find the rest of his siblings (pikas usually have 3 in a litter) and his parents soon.

American Pika (Ochotona princeps)
Mt Evans Wilderness Area, CO
Sony a580
Sony 70-400
Handheld

Shot in RAW, processed in Lightroom 3 and Nik software

ISO 100, f/6.3, 400mm, 1/1600sec

I have a LOT more images on my WEB SITE

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