8 Animals Active During Winter In Rocky Mountains

animals active during winter

What is this bird called? Photo via Flickr.

There are many different kinds of animals active during winter in the Rocky Mountains.  I wonder how many of them you can guess?

Going for a walk, snowshoe, or ski during winter in the mountains is a much different experience than during the summer.  What few sounds you hear really resonate and seem sharp.  One of the reasons for this is that there simply aren’t as many animals around.  Many animals migrate or hibernate, but here are some of the common animals you may encounter during winter.

animals active during winter8 Animals Active During Winter In The Rocky Mountains

It is much colder during the winter.  Don’t let that dissuade you from heading outside because winter is a great time to see animals in the mountains.  During winter these animals are lower in elevation and have a harder time hiding.  You can also see lots of tracks in the snow, especially after a new snow.

Moose – One of the animals that is common to see is a moose.  These big mammals will be lower down in the mountains where it is easier for them to find food.

Snowshoe Hare – I’ve never seen one of these during winter, probably partly because they have such good camouflage.  They are one of the animals that adapt to survive winter.

animals active during winter

A black capped chickadee is active during winter.

Black Capped Chickadee – Yes, there are many birds in the mountains during winter such as this small guy.  These tiny birds are very common to see perched on trees or fences, especially during a sunny, warm spell.

Raccoon – These mammals behavior varies over the winter.  During cold times they will be in a sleep like state in their dens for up to weeks.  However, they will wake up and come outside to look for food when it is nicer out and not snowing.  You may be lucky to see one out and about on a nice, sunny winter day.

Deer and Elk – Similar to Moose, deer and elk are still active during winter, but they can be found at lower elevations.  This is because they want to be able to find food easier and the snow is not as deep lower down.

animals active during winter

You may get lucky and see a porcupine during winter.

Porcupine – These small mammals are active all winter long.  They don’t wander far from their dens, but you may see them.  Shockingly, I saw one once walking along the snow between trees while I was riding a ski lift!  My wife and I had to do a double take to make sure we knew what we were seeing.

White Tailed Ptarmigan – This is another bird that is active during winter.  But, similar to the snowshoe hare, it adapts to winter by turning white, making it difficult to see.

Great Horned Owl – These owls are common throughout the Rockies and are still active during winter.  Normally nocturnal, they may begin to hunt during the day if food is becoming scarce in winter.


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