Pronghorn Trivia

Pronghorn

In May (see “Pregnant Pronghorn” 05-19-17) I posted a picture of pregnant pronghorn (Antilocapra americanna) and expressed my desire to once again see pronghorn kids this season. I did see several kids with their mothers earlier this summer . Unfortunately I did not get any photographs worth sharing.

However, I was surprised by something new I learned about pronghorns. If a female pronghorn has twins, they are well-separated for about the first week of their lives. The kids lie perfectly still while hidden in vegetation. At intervals the mother visits each twin, nurses it and then leaves quickly. After approximately their first week the kids then accompany their mother. I had no idea twins were separated. I assumed the babies remained together. Separating the kids does make sense in terms of at least one surviving if discovered by a predator.

Adult pronghorn do not use cover for concealment. Keen eyesight and swiftness are their method of survival. The whites and browns of a pronghorn provide camouflage amid the grasslands pronghorn call home. Pronghorn can see great distances and when in danger rely on speed to escape. A pronghorn can easily lope at 35 miles per hour and when pressed can flee at 45 miles per hour for long distances. Pronghorns can maintain a speed of 60 miles per hour for 3 or 4 minutes. The pronghorn kid must remain concealed until it can keep up with its mother – and the herd.

Pronghorn are also curious. Leonard and I often note that pronghorn will often run off when we approach. But before long the animal or herd will stop and look back at us with interest. If we remain still they will often walk toward us again. Native Americans used this curiosity when hunting pronghorn. They would wave a tuft of feathers on a stick or some other object above the tall grass eventually drawing the pronghorn within range.

This herd of pronghorn was photographed along County Road 90 north of Lookout CA (Modoc County).

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