Adult Yellow-bellied Marmot – Nikon D810, f10, 1/640, ISO 250, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
As a bird photographer I get very excited during spring migration because I start seeing birds I haven’t seen since fall and it is easy to get swept up in all that excitement but there are other signs of spring that I celebrate too like seeing the first forsythia in bloom, hearing spring peepers calling, the first violets blooming in the lawn and so much more.
I get excited to see and photograph my first Yellow-bellied Marmots of the years, sunning on rocks, scurrying along a hillside, nibbling on fresh spring grasses or calling out an alarm because a raptor is flying overhead. A few days ago I did hear and see a marmot on a hillside calling out when an immature Bald Eagle lifted off from a rock high on a mountain and flew over where the marmot had been keeping a lookout.
I haven’t yet been able to take any nice photos of the marmots I have seen this spring but I am delighted to see them again. I keep hoping to photograph a marmot in a snowy setting in early spring but so far that hasn’t happened and I doubt it will happen this spring.
I do miss seeing them from about September through March when they are hibernating in their burrows. These marmots are my furry, mammalian harbinger of spring and I am looking forward to photographing the adults and their pups this year.
Life is good.
A few Yellow-bellied Marmot facts:
- Yellow-bellied Marmots are large burrowing rodents with brown fur, yellow bellies, white muzzles and small round ears.
- Male marmots are larger on average then the females.
- Yellow-bellied Marmots are found throughout the western U.S including the Rockies, Sierra Nevada and the intermountain west along with some areas in Canada.
- The preferred habit for Yellow-bellied Marmots includes alpine meadows, steppes, rocky mountain talus slopes, semi-desert areas, pastures and forest edges.
- Yellow-bellied Marmots eat grasses, leaves, blossoms of herbaceous plants, grains, fruit and occasionally insects.
- Nicknames for Yellow-bellied Marmots include “rock chuck” and “whistle pig”.
- Yellow-bellied Marmots have four pups in their litters.
- Yellow-bellied Marmots live up to 13 to 15 years.