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Hard-working Sod Poodle

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Prairie dogs are eminently edible. Hawks, eagles, badgers, black-footed ferrets, foxes and coyotes all call them dinner. Being social animals, they freely warn each other of approaching predators with high, poodle-like barks. When they bark, they fling themselves upright, adding a visual cue to the auditory warning. It sounds like someone suddenly squeezed a rubber toy. Pfew!

Well might they bark. Though we missed seeing the pursuit, this coyote had just nabbed itself a sod poodle when I saw it.

You can imagine the salvo of barks that accompanied its passage along the fringe of the dog town with a young prairie dog dangling from its jaws.

You lookin' at me?

The dogs repaired to their burrows, their only defense against predators. I love this shot, by the way--absolutely impossible to get unless you are in a situation with tame prairie dogs. No wild sod poodle is going to let you see it in its burrow, no way nohow. You're lucky to be able to set up a spotting scope within sight of a wild prairie dog.

I wondered briefly what the little tamp marks were around the burrow mouth. Decided to watch the dogs until I figured out what they were. I had a notion they were noseprints.

This dog was building up the rim around his burrow. The rim serves a dual function. It keeps rainwater from pooling and running into the burrow, and it serves as a lookout seat for the watchful dog.
First, he threw a mound of soil through his hind legs, as a digging dog might.

He bulldozed the soil to where he wanted it.

He pushed it up onto the top of the mound.

Unnnh! Unnh!

More soil.

Gee, how'd your nose get so muddy?
Ah, I see. They do use that round nose to tamp the soil.

And thus is the dogtown built and maintained
with hideyholes to dive into when the coyotes prowl.

Also noted at the town: a lovely lark sparrow

with a penchant for almonds

and the loveliest of songs and cheek patches.

And a black crow, keeping watch.


They'd do real good at bean planting.

(And by the way, I grew up with a poodle who had a very manly bark.)

that Baker isn't good around small furry things, he could be an honorary Sod pusher with the perfect nose of his.

Word verification - viabone, hey Chet you want a via bone?

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That crow reminds me of the Hurzlmeier print, "Krahe" (Crow in Boots--which can be seen here).

Great photo essay on prairie dogs. I learned so much from your writing and photography. Given this is entirely outside of my terrain, it was very educational witnessing your encounters. Thank you.

Sitting here smiling at your commentary and thinking how nice it'd be, when I was young, to have you on my science field trips. Oh, the fun!

And, Rondeau Ric, our Bostons do push and tamp soil with their noses and do it very well ;-)

Ohmigod, Prairie Dog 'tocks!

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