I realize it has been quite a long time since I last posted, but I was a little busy graduating college! Yes. Gosh. …Anyways, this is a bighorn sheep skull (Ovis canadensis) surrounded by Canadian Thistle (Cirsium arvense), because wordplay is my favorite.
Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) taking a break on the grassy slopes of the National Bison Range, near Dixon, Montana. They were resting about twenty feet from our car and did not seem to mind our quiet audience.
Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), seen on my morning walk in in Phoenix, Arizona.
These sheep are actually denizens of the Phoenix Zoo, in Papago Park. Geologically, the park comprises a grouping of sandstone monadnocks - isolated hills of red rock that rise abruptly from the surrounding terrain. The zoo has built its bighorn enclosure on the side of the southernmost hill - visible from the park’s trails, and a pleasant surprise for the urban hiker.
The Dall sheep (originally Dall’s sheep), is a species of sheep native to northwestern North America.
The sheep inhabit the mountain ranges of Alaska and Western Canada. Dall sheep are found in relatively dry country and try to stay in a special combination of open alpine ridges, meadows, and steep slopes with extremely rugged ground in the immediate vicinity, to allow escape from predators that cannot travel quickly through such terrain.
Male Dall sheep have thick curling horns. The females have shorter, slender, slightly curved horns. Males live in bands which seldom associate with female groups except during the mating season in late November and early December. Lambs are born in May.
During the summer when food is abundant, the sheep eat a wide variety of plants. The winter diet is more limited, and consists primarily of dry, frozen grass and sedge stems available when snow is blown off, lichen and moss. Many Dall sheep populations visit mineral licks during the spring, and travel many miles to eat the soil around the licks.
The primary predators of Dall Sheep are wolves, coyotes, black bears, and grizzly bears; golden eagles are predators of the young.