Saturday, September 5, 2009


The pika is related to the rabbit and is found in western North America in boulder fields at or above tree line, usually from 8,000 to 13,000 feet. They are 6 to 8 inches long, have large round ears, no visible tail and weigh about 6 ounces. They live between cracks in piles of rocks. Populations of pikas are disappearing and they are being considered for inclusion in the Endangered Species Act. They are very sensitive to high temperatures and can die within an hour if the outside temperture reaches above 75 degrees. They are considered one of the best early warning systems for detecting global warming in the western U.S. [From Wikipedia, American Pika] The photo below was taken in the Henry's Fork area of the Uinta Mountains in northern Utah, near King's Peak.
While in Colorado recently, climbing Mount Sneffels, we saw a pika at the summit, at over 14,100 feet. I have only seen them a few times, but I am quite enchanted by them. They are very cute, but very wary. This link is to the sound of a pika. In August 2010, we found quite a few pika near the summit of Mount Evans, at over 14,000 feet, including the one in the photo below.
We also heard and saw quite a few of them as we were coming down from Mount Bross, above Kite Lake, at about the 12,500 foot level.

In August 2013, at over 14,300 feet in elevation, very near the summit of La Plata Peak in Colorado, I encountered the least wary pika I've seen. It allowed me to get quite close and stayed still while I moved around for different camera angles. I got my first head-on photos of a pika.
Pika near La Plata Peak

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