Male Pronghorn sniffing the wind – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
Two days ago while I was looking for and photographing birds on Antelope Island State Park I also took photos of a distant Pronghorn buck primarily because of his behavior and because I admire these wild creatures. The pronghorn buck rubbed against some of the moth mullein and also seemed to be sniffing the wind, I wondered if perhaps he could see or smell a coyote in the distance that I could not see. The rubbing is a territorial behavior.
The pronghorn and the bison on the island are beginning to shed their thick winter coats and for a while they may look a bit ratty, moth-eaten or disheveled, this buck pronghorn has already begun to shed.
Pronghorn are also called Pronghorn Antelopes or Antelopes but they are not true antelopes, they have been called that because they resemble Old World antelopes. They are the only surviving members of the family Antilocapridae. I have often thought the island should be called Pronghorn Island instead of Antelope Island because that is their actual name but people still call pronghorn “antelope” and the name antelope has stuck.
Nicknames for Pronghorn include Speed Goat, Sage Goat, Desert Racer, Goat-a-lope, Sagebrush Rocket, and Prairie Ghost. I think the nicknames Speed Goat and Desert Racer are especially appropriate because I’ve seen just how fast these animals can run, up to 55 mph for short bursts and 35 mph for longer distances.
I always enjoy taking photos of the pronghorns on Antelope Island State Park and appreciate the fact that they are approachable and far less skittish than the pronghorn I have encountered in quite a few other locations. Of course it helps to have a long lens so that they are not approached too closely, like any other wild animal they should be given space.
Life is good.
I mentioned that the bison on the island are beginning to shed and while looking at some older photos I found that I had seen the first calves or reds on the 5th of April in 2016 and now I am wondering if the bison have begun to calve on the island. I adore the bison calves because of their reddish colored fur and because they are kind of cute too.