Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 04/11/2015

Photo taken on December  7, 2014

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side view
Alces alces
W of Calgary
deer family
like winter
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Capreolinae
Genus: Alces
very large
wild animal
tiny antlers

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Young bull Moose

Young bull Moose
What a day I had on 7 December 2014, with friends Cathy and Terry, in an absolute winter wonderland! We set off from Calgary about 7:45 am (still dark) and drove westwards to the Kananaskis area of our majestic mountains.

My friends had been hoping for a long time to be able to show me a winter Moose and on this day they did really well, finding a beautiful female and, at another location, this youngish male with antlers that looked rather like two little twigs sticking out of the sides of his head. This photo was taken through the windshield, so the colour is not the greatest. The size of both these wild animals was huge! The closest we saw them both was when they approached the car. You can stop the car some distance away from them, but if they are busy licking off the salt and minerals from any car in sight, they sometimes might eventually come close. All the female was interested in was doing this very thing : ) She would occasionally stop, straighten up and look and listen - usually this would be because she had heard or seen people snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing on a nearby trail through the forest. The rest of the time, she licked and licked and licked some more - the slurping sound could be heard from quite some distance :) At one point, she bent both front knees to kneel, so that she could reach the lower part of a vehicle. Lol, she did a fine job of cleaning headlights till they shone. Impressive and rather amusing at the same time. Free carwash, anyone??

We saw the female first, then the youngish male in this photo, and then we saw the female a second time, later. After feeding on dead leaves and tiny twigs from under the deep snow, she then lay down in the snow at the edge of some trees - the first time I had ever seen a Moose lying down. Such a peaceful scene - no one else was around either.

I always feel so privileged when I witness any kind of wildlife, especially so when you get the chance to watch a while and see the behaviour of the animal or bird you are lucky enough to see. I always tell my friends that just being in such spectacular scenery and being able to photograph the mountains is more than enough for me.

When a Moose is standing in the shade, it makes taking photos a bit of a challenge. What a difference in the colour of the female's coat when she occasionally moved into the sun. I can't remember if this male was in the shade or not, but I took this photo through the windscreen, which almost always changes the colours and tends to result in very blurry photos that have to be deleted. Thought this one was OK to be posted.

“The moose (North America) or Eurasian elk (Europe), Alces alces, is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with adendritic ("twig-like") configuration. Moose typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. Moose used to have a much wider range but hunting and other human activities greatly reduced it over the years. Moose have been reintroduced to some of their former habitats. Currently, most moose are found in Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia and Russia. Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. The most common moose predators are wolves, bears, and humans. Unlike most other deer species, moose are solitary animals and do not form herds. Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move surprisingly quickly if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn can lead to spectacular fights between males competing for a female.

The moose is a herbivore and is capable of consuming many types of plant or fruit. The average adult moose needs to consume 9,770 kcal (40.9 MJ) per day to maintain its body weight. Much of a moose's energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation, mainly consisting of forbs and other non-grasses, and fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch. These plants are rather low in sodium, and moose generally need to consume a good quantity of aquatic plants. While much lower in energy, these plants provide the moose with its sodium requirements, and as much as half of their diet usually consists of aquatic plant life. In winter, moose are often drawn to roadways, to lick salt that is used as a snow and ice melter. A typical moose, weighing 360 kg (790 lb), can eat up to 32 kg (71 lb) of food per day.” From Wikipedia.