by Jeff Goulden
The American Pika (Ochotona princeps) is an herbivorous, smaller relative of rabbits and hares. These very cute rodents can be found in the mountains of western North America usually above the tree line in large boulder fields.
The Pika could well become the first mammal in the lower 48 United States to be listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a result of global climate change. According to the Center for Biological Diversity "rising temperatures caused by global warming shorten pikas' food-gathering period, change the types of plants available, shrink the alpine meadows where they feed, and reduce the insulating snowpack that protects them from winter cold snaps. Because pikas are specially adapted for cold climates, warming can even directly kill them through overheating."
One of the places I find Pikas is Sunrise Lake in Mount Rainier National Park. The trail passes a large boulder field on the left just before reaching the lake. Listen for the Pika's whistle while scanning the rocks for movement. I got most of my pictures with a medium telephoto lens (18-200) but a larger lens would help avoid getting too close and disturbing these shy creatures.
The Pika pictured above can be seen in the German edition of National Geographic. More pictures of this fascinating animal can be seen in my Pika Gallery at Istockphoto.com. Signed fine art prints from many of my photographs are available for purchase on Fine Art America. For special offers and to follow my photographic journey please Join My Email List.
Jeff's Photo Blog
In this Photo Blog I have combined my 50 year passion for photography and my love of the natural world, creating a portfolio that reveals nature in its pure and simple beauty. I am pleased to share my passion with you through this blog.