Friday, November 19, 2010

Back to Yellowstone

If you've been following me for a while, you'll remember my trip to Yellowstone this past June.  After I came back, I started a new job, so I didn't have much time to really pour through the images from our three night camping adventure.  I'm off from work today, so this morning I took a second look at the images from America's megafauna capital.

A series of images of this bison scratching its head caught my eye, and I started to work on this particular shot in Adobe Camera Raw. After playing around with several different ways of cropping the image, I saw a little black speck perched upon the dead log.

Ah ha!  A brown-headed cowbird hiding out right next to a bison.  How cool is that?  If you've studied birding or ecology in north America, one of the biggest stories told in the field is the eastward migration of the cowbirds as America's forests were cleared. Adapted to range with the bison of the American plains, the cowbirds didn't have time to raise a nest full of young, so they somehow learned to lay their eggs in other birds nests.  Quite an interesting strategy for sure.  But as we opened up the forests, they started laying eggs in the nests of species that hadn't learned to recognize the cowbird eggs, and, to make  a long story short, we've got plenty of cowbirds around these days.

So although I've seen cowbirds here in Ohio a thousand times, seeing them in the open plains of Yellowstone National Park, sitting right next to a bison, leads me to respect this species just a little more.  They didn't clear the forests of the east- we did!

Slough Creek Valley, Yellowstone National Park, frequented by hundreds, if not thousands, of Bison.


  1. Well this is a coincidence. I just did a Phun Phriday post about bison poo in Yellowstone Park. I worked there for two months and had quite a few pics of poo. You have the intellectual, classy version and mine isn't.

  2. Judy- Yes, I remember your time there. I have a few poo pictures!