Have You Seen These Winter Animals Recently?

winter animals

Deer on the run in the snow.  Photo via Flickr.

Winter animals can be easier to see than the same animals during summer in the Rocky Mountains.  Here are some of the animals that you may be lucky to see during winter.

During the summer animals are active because the days are warm and there is an abundance of food.  In contrast, during winter many animals are inactive or in a state of dormancy, or they have migrated elsewhere.  However, the animals that are active may be easier to see due to the lack of leaves on trees and they stand out more against the white snow.  Here are some of the winter animals that you may commonly encounter in the Rocky Mountains.

Where Are The Animals During Winter?

All animals choose some strategy to survive the cold winters of the Rocky Mountains.  Some animals choose to simply leave and go somewhere warmer where there is more food available (migration).  Others also choose to avoid the cold and go into a sleep like state during winter called dormancy (hibernation).

On the other hand, some hardy animals stick out the winter and are active all winter long.  These ones often adapt and change their behavior or appearance to help them survive winter, such as growing a winter coat or changing their food.

Common Winter Animals in the Rocky Mountains

Moose – Moose are active all winter long.  Their big, wide feet act as snowshoes to help them walk around in the deep snow.  Read these cool facts about moose.

winter animalsCoyote – They come down lower in elevation and are active during winter.  During summer coyotes tend to be solitary animals.  However, in winter they tend to be more social and will make a pack to help with hunting.  I remember watching a pack of them (4 of them running one at a time) running by chasing a couple of deer behind our house one winter.

Deer – They also come down lower in elevation to avoid the higher, colder areas and to find more food.  Deer have a thick coat that helps them stay warm and they are less active during winter so they don’t need as much food.

winter animalsRabbit – They are active during winter and have to work hard to find food.  Often they will go to a burrow that they have lined with grass to rest in.  Unfortunately, there is a high death rates of rabbits during winter.  I remember one winter watching three different rabbits in our yard.  Come summer though, only one of them survived because it just got too cold for them.

winter animalsBlack Capped Chickadee – These little birds are one of the few birds that are active all winter long.  They are very distinctive looking with a black cap on the top of their head.  They change what they eat during winter.  To stay warm at night they can lower their body temperature and will roost in a large group with other small birds.

Mountain Lion – They are active during the winter and actually do quite a bit of hunting deer and other animals at this time of year.