Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Home Again--Back from Yellowstone National Park

Here I am, on the path that runs along the rim of the Yellowstone Canyon.

I'm not going to try to give a detailed vacation report. That's always a big yawn for anyone not a part of the trip. So, just a few photos and a few notes about our week.

Bison Battle
I thought about naming this blog "Bison Love Songs," because it was the courting phase of mating season for the bison in the Park. It was the first time we had been there during this season, and it was very different from the way the bison behave earlier in the summer. When we have been in the Park in June or July, the bison bulls tend to hang out together or wander alone. The bison cows and calves move about in herds, grazing in the meadows.

This year, in August, we saw quite a different mix. The bulls were mostly with the cows and calves. In fact, they were mostly in bull and cow pairs, with the calves in attendance with their mothers. Each bull stuck very close to his cow, herding her where he thought she ought to be. Occasionally a cow would try to get away from the pesky fellow, but he would soon have her under control again. The bull can scent when the cow ovulates and is ready for mating; in the meantime he is keeping her very, very close. The most amazing thing about it all was the constant "singing" of the bulls. They emit a constant rumbling sound that is a cross between a deep snore and a growl, with occasional loud blats. It is not very melodic to the human ear, but surely carries messages to their own species. I'm guessing that it is a courtship song to the cow and a warning to other bulls to stay away. When there is a large number of these massive animals singing their songs, it is quite something to hear.

Of course, mating season means that the bulls are in very testy moods and little scuffles to big fights break out here and there. One of these happened right by the highway and narrowly missed spilling into the cars stopped to watch.

The Tetons, seen through a haze of smoke.

The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone Canyon

Eagle photographed from across the Yellowstone River.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I didn't know all that about the bison. I love the eagle photo!