One of the Kananaskis Guardians

All along High,way 40 which runs through the heart of Kananaskis and winds through spectacular scenery, there are Columbia ground squirrels (Urocitellus columbianus) scurrying around.  They are pretty low on the food chain so they are wary critters.  When there is any noise or motion approaching they stand upright and assess the danger.  When something gets too close, they chirp out a warning and then dive for one of the holes connecting to their hillside tunnel complex.

This little guy watched me from his mound above the pullout while I was loading up for a hike near the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park entrance.  I was happy to have this little creature stand for a short portrait session.

 

 

4 responses

  1. Are they also called Prairie Dogs, or is that something else?

    August 8, 2011 at 9:23 am

    • Hi Jenna, Prairie dogs look quite similar but are a different size and generally lack the reddish patches of fur tending more towards the yellows and browns. If you are interested, Prairie dogs, Columbian ground squirrels and marmots are all related, but distinct, members of the same genus (Spermophilus) of ground squirrels in the family Sciuridae. This family seems to be a catchall for just about all squirrel type animals.

      August 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm

  2. elmediat

    Beautiful. Somehow the pose and expression suggests a Mel Blanc voice characterization. Well done.

    August 7, 2011 at 10:19 pm

  3. Interesting to see the details in your wild animal photos, Chris! He is a scruffy guy.

    August 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm

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