So, if you're a half pint animal that doesn't hibernate, a motto like "be prepared" is a bit of an understatement.
As is evidenced by this 1-month span of camera trap photos of an American pika gathering greens for its winter haypile.
American pika at haypile, July 26th 2015, 6am
Littleleaf Creambush, Holodiscus discolor var. microphyllus, seems to be a popular forage at this location. At least for this particular pika - pika live solo and are strongly territorial, and only 1 will build, defend and use a haypile. Unless "disappeared."
Pika returning with sprig of Littleleaf Creambush
Pika adding foraged greens to its haypile under big boulder
And stuffing them into every possible crack and crevice
Mountain Snowberry, Symphoricarpos rotundifolius, was also a fave, and packed in tightly.
Pika adding Mountain Snowberry branches to it haypile
Throwing all 6 ounces of its weight against the pile
Tamp, tamp, tamp
Soda Straw, Angelica lineariloba, Sulphur Buckwheat, Eriogonum umbellatum, and Mountain Coyote Mint, Monardella odoratissima, were also on the pika's "buy local" grocery list.
All sensible seasonal choices, since pika are herbivores, like their kin the rabbits & hares. And thus mostly eat leaves and grasses. And surprisingly few seeds or berries.
But the Soda Straw is interesting, as it's also called Poison Angelica, and is related to hemlock. Perhaps it's strategically added for the bushy-tailed woodrats, mice, squirrels and chipmunks that often try to raid the pika's pantry.
Pika adding Soda Straw leaf to its winter larder
Occasionally they pause for a look around, or territorial call.
Pika giving its "rock rabbit" look. This half pint cutie's ear notch is handy for ID. And note how perfectly matched their fur color pattern is to the rocky habitat.
But rest is for the wicked, and there's "ripe" Creambush and Snowberry to harvest and pile.
All leading to...
American pika at haypile, 1 month later, August 26th 2015, 11am
A whole lot of winter salad.
Maybe there is an El Nino coming.
Pika off to get more
- Nature of a Man (this blog) - Seasonal Activity Patterns
- Wikipedia - American pika
- Andrew Smith, Marla Weston - American Society of Mammalogists: Ochotona princeps