Ever Vigilant

Photographing Prairie Dogs in the wild is notoriously difficult because of their wariness, even with a long lens and shelter/blind. These were captured at Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado from within a parked vehicle.
Prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) are herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. They are actually a species of ground squirrel, named “dog” because of their alarm bark. There are five species and these (pictured) are black-tailed. Prairie dogs are considered a “keystone” species because their colonies create islands of habitat that benefit approximately 150 other species. Prairie dogs are like a canary in the coal mine. If their population declines and dies, others will soon follow.
These animals are always vigilant due to high number of predator species who share their Habitat. The most common predators of black-tailed prairie dogs are coyotes (Canis latrans), American badgers (Taxidea taxus), bobcats (Lynx rufus), golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis), red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), and prairie rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis).

Technical Details

Composite: No
EF 70-200mm + 2x @ 400mm; f/7.1 @ 1/250 sec, -1 EV, ISO 100