Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Winter returned to our part of NW Wyoming today and with it came the rosy finches. This is a small bird that travels in a large pack and likes the high country. The only time we see them on our place is in the dead of winter when it is just too cold and snowy up top. It is rare to see one alone and not uncommon to see several hundred in a flock. They have a strange habit of flying right at you if you disturb them and I have seen the ones at the back of the pack fly right into a rock because they were more concerned about the bird in front of them then where they were headed. I have also had them eat right out of my hand when it has been especially snowy. I think they are just not that familiar with humans and so have very little fear of us.

I am more concerned than ever about our coyotes. I haven't seen any sign of either one of them for several days now. The day after I took the photo of the female our house was buzzed by a small plane. I know it wasn't our friend Bill because he is one of the best pilots I know and this guy flew like he was taking lessons. He flew far too close to the house and the llamas for my comfort. I mentioned it at sewing yesterday and Tina said she heard the exterminator is back in the area which is what I was afraid of. In this case they exterminate coyotes. The plane and the sharpshooter are paid for by the State Sheep Growers Association and all it takes is a phone call from a concerned rancher to have them in your area. By law they cannot kill an animal on private property but our land is surrounded on all sides by BLM and the animals don't know where the lines are. To be fair, just about every cattle rancher in the state has cows that are calving right now and a coyote probably doesn't care too much whether it is a lamb or a calf he is having for dinner. On the other hand, like all predators the coyotes will go after the easiest meal and anything that has a mama looking after it is going to be harder to take down than a cottontail or a jackrabbit and heaven knows there are enough of both of those in the area to keep a lot of canine bellies full. With an inch of new snow on the ground I decided to go for a hike this afternoon to see f I could find tracks. Lots of bunnies, no coyotes.

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