You have to be amazingly lucky and very quick with a camera to get a photograph of a wild weasel. Glenn Alexon has managed to snap not one but two excellent portraits of local weasel species.
Here is a Long-tailed Weasel seen by the administration building at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary on one of our Friends of Fish Creek birding walks, September 9, 2011.
The most widespread weasel in the western hemisphere, Long-tailed Weasels are sleek, long bodied hunters 20-26 cm long, with a tail measuring half to two thirds of their body length. Summer coats vary from rich chocolate to rusty brown, with creamy white to yellowish underparts. Northern populations moult to pure white in winter, but their tail always has a black tip, regardless of coat colour. Southern populations do not change colour in winter.
Living from southern Canada to northwestern Brazil, these animals have the greatest habitat tolerance of any American weasels. They can be found in virtually all habitats, from Arctic-alpine to tropical, and are absent only from true desert and agricultural areas. They are most abundant in open woodland, brushland, and grasses and meadows near water.
Glenn has also managed to photograph a Short-tailed Weasel on the back of Sulphur Mountain in Banff.
Called Ermine or Stoat in Europe, Short-tailed Weasels measure 17-34 cm. Their coats are rusty to chocolate brown with white undersides, and the tail has a black tip. Northern populations moult to white in the winter, but retain the black tail tip. In North America, they are smaller than the Long-tailed Weasel with a proportionately shorter tail, and the two species occupy the same geographic areas.
Found throughout the northern hemisphere in North America, Eurasia and Greenland, Short-tailed Weasels occur in a wide range of habitats from Arctic tundra to semi-desert, and sea level to 3,000 m. Unlike the Long-tailed Weasel, the Short-tailed can also be found on farmland and pasture, preying on the abundant rodent population.
To see more wonderful wildlife photos from Glenn, have a look at his Wildlife of Alberta Flickr page, and be sure and see the kissing marmot photo while you’re there!
Did you miss Weasel Wednesday? See our most popular post ever here!