Rabbit Season in the Rockies

Alex LamoreauxField Work, MammalsLeave a Comment

Although not technically a “rabbit”, Snowshoe Hares are particularly visible and abundant right now in the boreal habitats of northern Idaho. The vast expanses of spruce-fir forests and large stands of Lodgepole Pines covering the mountainous landscape creates the ultimate kingdom for this large leporid. Before this summer I had only seen a handful of Snowshoe Hares in my life, but criss-crossing around northern Idaho doing bird surveys this summer has offered me the chance to see over 100 hares! Mostly I get brief, distant views of one scurrying off the edge of the road around sunset, but I made it a point to try and get a clear photo of one this past week. It proved to be a hard thing to do – they seemed very weary of humans, and despite trying over and over again, I just couldn’t get one to sit still long enough for a decent shot, plus the poor lighting in the evenings wouldn’t have made a very nice photograph anyway. However, one afternoon I came around a bend on a forest road, and standing right ahead of me was a gorgeous Snowshoe Hare licking salt off the road. I pulled my car over and snuck closer to the hare, amazed that it hadn’t already ran off like all the others I had stopped for. Soon I was within 20 feet and it was pretty much ignoring me, even turning to face away from me, continuing to scratch at the ground and lick salt off the road. I finally had a chance to get some clear, unobstructed photos of this really cool mammal of our northern forests!

Snowshoe Hare near Headquarters, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Snowshoe Hare near Headquarters, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Snowshoe Hare near Headquarters, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Snowshoe Hare near Headquarters, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Other mammals such as Moose, American Black Bears, various rodents, Elk, and both species of deer have been abundant throughout the Clearwater and Nez Perce National Forests. The shear number of large mammals throughout this area of Idaho makes field work all the more fun.

Moose foraging in the South Hills, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Moose foraging in the South Hills, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Red-tailed Chipmunk near Headquarters, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Red-tailed Chipmunk (I believe) near Headquarters, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Fawn White-tailed Deer near Pierce, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Fawn White-tailed Deer near Pierce, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Ok, ok….this is supposed to be a website about birding! I’ll admit, I have had a great time trying to get shots of the mammals out here but I haven’t been neglecting the birds either. Here are a few bird photos that I have taken recently.

Black-necked Stilt near Kuna, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Black-necked Stilt near Kuna, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Red-tailed Hawk near Pierce, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Red-tailed Hawk surveying the forest near Pierce, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Turkey Vulture gliding over the City of Rocks, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Turkey Vulture gliding over the City of Rocks, Idaho (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)