The Winner of the AppSnax Book Giveaway, plus Coyotes, Prairie Dogs and Colorado’s Open Spaces

We have a winner! Viri Flores has won the ATFT: AppSnax book giveaway! Congratulations! I’ve sent Viri more than one congratulatory email, but I haven’t received a reply. If you see this, Viri, please contact me at info at atravelfortaste.com so I can send you the prize: a signed copy of my latest book. Again, congratulations – and please contact me soon!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway. It was a big success. Look for more giveaways in the future. Meanwhile, remember that all my books are available on Amazon, and they make great gifts, either for friends and family, or even for yourself.

I hope everyone had a grand Thanksgiving and is getting in the holiday spirit. I know I’m proper tired of turkey soup, but I’ve made my German gingerbread (Lebkuchen) already and am in the process of decorating for Christmas. If you want the gingerbread recipe, it’s in my ATFT: Germany book!

This week’s post is on the lighter side. One of my favorite things about Colorado is the ubiquitous prairie dog. I drag all my visitors to see them – they are everywhere and so cute! Here are some pictures of them near where I live. Love these little, fat-butted guys!

First, though, I have a picture of their main predator, coyotes. (If this were a nature show, the music would turn ominous at this point.) I love coyotes, too, and sometimes hear them howling at night. In fact, the other night I saw three of them hunting in the park next to our apartment about 3:00am. They were greatly upsetting the thousand or so geese on the nearby retention pond.

Anyway, one morning my husband and I were walking in a nearby park when he stopped me to point out some coyotes ranging among the grasses in the open space where the prairie dogs live. They are exactly the same color as the vegetation, and my phone was all the camera I had at the time, so I’ve added arrows to the picture to point them out. The red arrows point to the coyotes. The blue arrow indicates the prairie dog town, which I’ll show you in a minute. The green arrow is a man walking his dog on the gravel trail. This shows you how close coyotes live to people.

In fact, I’ve noticed that virtually every single yard is fenced-in here, and I’m pretty sure it’s to keep out the coyotes. No one lets their pets run free because of them, too. Though I’ve seen lots of squirrels and bunnies, I hardly ever see a housecat roaming around. They’re all inside.

In Colorado, there are numerous open spaces, which are nature areas that generally have maintained gravel paths for walking, running, biking, etc. There is an open space, usually along with a developed recreational park, every couple of blocks here. Love that! The open space where we saw the coyotes has this for a view to the west:

As for the prairie dog town, it looks like a Martian landscape or something from the Planet Koozebane (if you get that reference, leave me a comment below and I’ll send you a pdf of my latest book – no fair googling it!). Here’s a closer look:

Prairie dogs usually hang out in or very near the opening of their burrows, which all connect underground. If you (or a coyote) get too close, they start chirping, which, I guess, someone long ago thought sounded like a dog maybe. I think they sound like a dog TOY. Anyway, if one starts up, they all scamper to the nearest hole. It’s hard to get close to them because they’re so alert and they warn everybody else. But I have a zoom lens, so here are some of my better shots:

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Sometimes one of them will jump up in the air and make a quick little “WEE-o” squeaky sound. The movement is called a jump-yip, and I’m not making that up. No one is 100% sure why they do this, but there’s a theory that maybe it’s checking in with everyone to see if they are being as vigilant as they need to be. Often lots of other p-dogs jump-yip in response. The jump-yip is hard to catch on camera, but guess what?:

Prairie dog towns can span hundreds of acres and be home to thousands of the rodents. Between the mounded holes, I see lots of paths worn by p-dogs running back and forth.

When they run, they wiggle their little, short tails. One friend remarked that, if they didn’t wiggle the tails, you couldn’t see them at all. They ARE exactly the same color as the ground they play on, same as the coyotes! Fun fact: prairie dogs use their tails to balance, kind of like the third leg of a tripod, when they sit up on their hind legs.

You can get pet prairie dogs, too. I looked it up, and the cost for a pup is a few hundred dollars. Wow – that, and their teeth grow continuously, which means they would chew through practically anything. I think I’ll stick to visiting their town!

And, finally, prairie dogs…. wait, what? Silly rabbit!

Photo for No Apparent Reason:

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