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Pikas beyond the Sierra Nevada

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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Pikas beyond the Sierra Nevada

Postby hikerduane » Sun Jan 25, 2015 7:28 pm

I traveled out of state last October for a shortened bp trip in the Maroon Bells area of Colorada, just outside of Aspen. I would of made a longer trip, but was not prepared for thigh deep snow over some of the passes, so I only stayed a couple nights in the Wilderness. Had the most popular lake in the Wilderness, Snowmass to myself the one night I stayed there.
I noticed a few Pikas here and there, chirping, thought that was good as a few years ago there was word they were on the decline, but that was later disclaimed.
Beautiful area, but pretty packed in the Summer I hear. The best views were the tourist thing, close to the parking lot or within a few miles or less.
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Re: Pikas beyond the Sierra Nevada

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun Jan 25, 2015 10:44 pm

I would count Pikas as one of the most healthy populations of animals in the Sierra. I see them and hear their calls in every boulder field in the entire Sierra.
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Re: Pikas beyond the Sierra Nevada

Postby hikerduane » Mon Jan 26, 2015 3:47 am

I hear Marmots more than Pikas in the Sierra, maybe in my pre-retirement years, I'm not going high enough anymore. Pretty rare to see and hear a Pika, I know some are there.
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Re: Pikas beyond the Sierra Nevada

Postby RoguePhotonic » Mon Jan 26, 2015 7:10 am

If anything I have seen far fewer Marmots in the Sierra unless your on the JMT. I will go weeks without seeing a single one or hearing their calls but that has never been true with Pikas. Although to be fair Marmots only call out in a loud whistle if they are scared of something. You might be walking through a remote cross country location and hear their whistles because they are afraid of you. Pikas on the other hand will let out their loud calls at any given time.

While climbing Wildflower Pass I sat on a rock and had a Pika come out to visit me about 3 feet away. I remained perfectly still as I watched the cute little guy. Finally I began to whistle a song which the Pika seemed to enjoy. After about 5 minutes it let out a loud scared call that had the effect of scaring the **** out of me in that moment and we went on our ways.
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Re: Pikas beyond the Sierra Nevada

Postby SSSdave » Mon Jan 26, 2015 11:36 am

A key to seeing any of the High Sierra rodent species is to understand where they live and look for them in the proper environment of which much of the landscape is not. Especially along trails that with increasing traffic many creatures learn to avoid. As a landscape photographer rambling over trail less landscapes continually surveying the broad landscape on what is visible on passing versus those who ramble focused mainly on their route and feet, I tend to see our little friends.

Thus one will find marmots most likely about avalanche meadows at the base of steep talus slopes because they eat the greenery in those meadows and burrow in and under the boulders.

And one will find pika also in those areas as well as higher up on small to medium talus slopes that contain gravel areas between rocks where some plants grow that is above where marmots be.

And belding ground squirrels often colonize burrows about well drained open soft meadow areas along with pocket gophers and meadow mice that are rarely seen above ground while their furrowed tunnels are always obvious. And if one quietly sits awhile on a boulder in one of these meadow areas who else might come by? ...mr coyote

Then down in timberline forest areas where they nest in trees are chipmunks, chikarees, and golden mantled ground squirrels.
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Re: Pikas beyond the Sierra Nevada

Postby rlown » Mon Jan 26, 2015 12:08 pm

Pika and other "rabbits" are classified as Mammals and not Rodents anymore:

Well known rodents include mice, rats, squirrels, prairie dogs, porcupines, beavers, guinea pigs, and hamsters. Other animals such as rabbits, hares and pikas, which could be confused with rodents, were once included with them, but are now considered to be in a separate order, Lagomorpha.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodent

Other than that, I've seen Pika right along the trail up to Piute Pass, and as Dave points out, in the Talus where they have a good food supply.

Eric posted this a few years ago about the Pika: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=4866&p=29868

They are cute. I hope they hang around.

Russ
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