The adult male gray wolf stands 26 to 38 inches high at the shoulder and is usually 40 to 58 inches in length (excluding the tail). Males are 15 to 20 percent larger than females. Continue reading “Wolves”
Trumpeter swans are the largest waterfowl in North America, and easily the biggest flyers in Yellowstone. The wingspan of males (cobs) can reach seven feet. Cobs weigh between 25 and 30 pounds, while females (pens) weigh 23 to 27 pounds. The trumpeter is generally bigger and heavier than the eagle.
The trumpeter swan, native only to North America, was once headed toward extinction south of Canada. By the mid-1800s, market hunters had almost exterminated the trumpeter. They were slaughtered in great numbers for their plumage, used to decorate ladies’ hats. By the 1830s, fewer than 100 birds remained. Congress set aside a wildlife refuge west of Yellowstone to facilitate trumpeter recovery. In recent years, the Park Service has also taken measures to assist the trumpeter, including nesting islands to protect nests from coyote predation.
Where to find them
Look for Swans along the Madison and Firehole Rivers. There is almost always a nesting pair on the Madison and depending on the time of year watch for cygnets. The Yellowstone River just south of Canyon is another good spot to look for Swans.
The Pronghorn is the fastest North American land animal, capable of reaching speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. The pronghorn’s speed is its main defense against predators. The newborns, for the first few days of their lives, are vulnerable to coyotes. Continue reading “Pronghorn”
Some visitors will have the opportunity to view a wild moose. The moose (Alces alces) is the largest member of the deer family with mature bulls weighing more than 1,000 pounds. The bull moose produce large palmate antlers which are shed annually. Although cow moose do not have antlers, both bulls and cows do have a bell which is a growth of skin and hair that hangs down from the throat. Calves are born in the spring and remain with the cow for a year. Cow moose will aggressively protect their young from any perceived threat. Continue reading “Moose”
Seeing a grizzly in Yellowstone is priceless.
Getting too close to one is foolish.
The Grizzly Bear is a powerful predator, capable of out sprinting a horse, and weighing as much as 350-600 pounds. Grizzlies are omnivorous, meaning they eat both meat and plants. In Yellowstone, grizzlies feed on elk, trout, bison carrion, pinenuts, grasses, roots, and berries. Continue reading “Grizzly Bear”
The elk is the most abundant of the large mammals of Yellowstone National Park. Oftentimes reaching the size of a large horse, elk can be seen throughout Yellowstone year-around. The cows and calves oftentimes travel in large groups of a hundred or more during the summer months,
while the males tend to travel by themselves or in very small groups, feeding on grasses and tree twigs. Continue reading “Elk”
Bald eagles are one of two species of eagle in Yellowstone, the other is the golden eagle. They are raptors and carnivores, seeking a diet of fish, waterfowl, rodents and small mammals. They also scavenge from the carcasses of large animals such as elk and bison. Continue reading “Bald Eagle”
Mule deer, also known as black-tail deer, are ideally suited to the rugged slopes of the Rocky Mountains. A large number inhabit the park in summer, but most migrate to lower elevations, or “winter range” outside the park in the winter. Like the elk and bison, mule deer were reduced to dangerously low numbers in the mid-nineteenth century due to over-hunting. At the turn of the century, Yellowstone served as a sanctuary and continues to protect them from hunters within the park’s boundaries. Continue reading “Mule Deer”
Having survived the same extermination campaigns that eliminated wolves from the park between 1910 and 1930, coyotes have by default become the predominant canine predator. The restoration of the wolf in Yellowstone has changed this status. Continue reading “Coyote”
Black Bears are the most numerous member of the bear family in North America, and are found from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast. There are an estimated 500-600 black bears inhabiting Yellowstone National Park. Continue reading “Black Bears”