I had a fantastic time yesterday photographing an American Badger at its burrow with its prey and a couple of Long-tailed Weasels, both alive and dead. At first I couldn’t tell what was in the badger’s mouth but the fur color of the prey was the color of the summer coat of a Long-tailed Weasel. The light angle wasn’t great and there were some dead wild sunflower stalks in the way and the badger disappeared into its burrow.
After getting into a position where the light angle was better and waiting a while the American Badger came back out into the sun without its prey and I was able to get quite a few portraits of it. American Badgers and Long-tailed Weasels are carnivores although through some reading I did last night on badgers I did learn that they do eat some plant foods such as corn, green beans, peas, sunflower seeds and some fungi.
American Badgers prey on ground squirrels, mice, voles, pocket gophers, pikas, marmots, prairie dogs and rats. They will also take lizards, carrion, skunks, insects and ground nesting birds. It has been noted that American Badgers and Coyotes will hunt together, the badgers dig better than coyotes and the coyotes are quicker at chasing the prey above the ground and between the two species they leave the prey little opportunity to escape.
I haven’t had many opportunities to photograph American Badgers so as you can imagine I was delighted to have this one in my viewfinder as it sat in the sunshine and dug into the soil.
While waiting for the badger to come back up to the surface I spotted a bit of movement in the cheatgrass and shortly after that another Long-tailed Weasel appeared near the mouth of the burrow. The weasel ran all over the area and at one point went down into the burrow itself. I thought the weasel was a goner but it popped back up and continued to explore the area around the mouth of the burrow. The badger did come to the surface and just for a few seconds headed towards the weasel and the weasel ran off.
Then the American Badger went into the burrow and came back up with a Long-tailed Weasel in its jaws for a few seconds and soon disappeared into the ground again. Long-tailed Weasels do prey on their own kind and I really can’t be sure if the living weasel was after the dead one in the burrow or if the badger had taken over the weasel’s den.
I thought I was going to be photographing birds yesterday and I did photograph some but this American Badger and the Long-tailed Weasels were the highlight of the day. I just never know what I might see when I am out in the field photographing nature.