I hope you got the opportunity to experience the total solar eclipse of 2017.
Although every split second of the eclipse was known in advance, watchers here on Earth found it breathtaking. And when the sky was lighting and the sun was re-emerging and the chill began leaving, people watching could hear their howls and hoots echoed seemingly everywhere in and around Jackson Hole.
Most of our human reaction to the eclipse was surely predicted by social scientists, but what about the reactions of our wildlife? I asked you last week to share your experiences and animal observations. Here are some things I’ve heard.
Bernie McHugh reported that a crowd of magpies went to roost as darkness approached and came out shortly after totality.
Roger Smith noted Clark’s nutcrackers went to roost and then emerged.
Susan Marsh saw bats flying as darkness descended and all through the totality. House wrens and yellow warblers were going about their business, then became quiet for some 10 minutes after totality. A larger flock of blackbirds temporarily roosted.
Nighthawks were very active during totality but went to roost when sunlight returned. Hummingbirds were very active before totality and immediately after, reported Bryan Bedrosian and Katherine Gura.
Tim Griffith watched cliff swallows retreat to nesting areas as dusk approached but come out perhaps six seconds after light returned. At totality wolves and coyotes in the Gros Ventre began to howl. A pair of kestrels retreated to their nesting cavity as darkness came on. All grasshopper activity appeared to cease.
Bees stopped foraging, and bats came out in Jackson, Loy Kiefling observed.
Temperatures on the National Elk Refuge dropped around 10 degrees in places. In Rendezvous Bowl at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort the temperature dropped an estimated 15 degrees.
Jack Bellorado made an observation from a sailboat on Jackson Lake in Moran Bay of a bull moose feeding in the water, diving in the deeper section but not changing his behavior during totality.
South Park cattle gathered together at totality as if getting ready for the evening, noted Drs. M.J. and Dan Forman.
Jonathan Schechter reported sandhill cranes toward the refuge were calling louder and louder until totality and then going quiet. Also, cows on Mead Ranch did the same, mooing until totality and then going silent.
On Leigh Lake fish started rising as totality came on, as seen by Reily Gibson.
Dr. Alice Richter shared her wildlife eclipse experience from her horse pasture on Richter’s Point.
“I wanted to view the Grand Teton during the eclipse so I had to cut down a bunch of deep red musk thistle to place my lawn chair,” she wrote. “Blue Bell, my Great Pyrenees, and I sat down at 10 a.m. About 50 feet from me was a mature bald eagle in a tree with its back to me. Accompanying the eagle were a couple of magpies, scavengers looking for scraps the predator eagle might provide them.
“The eclipse started at 10:25 a.m. and the temperature started to drop. At the total eclipse I was chilly with a long-sleeve shirt. I estimate the temperature dropped 30 or more degrees, no wind and a nice sunset,” she said.
Richter said that 15 minutes before and after, as well as during totality, coyotes west of the ridge began howling. Sandhill cranes east of the ridge in the wetlands began “their eerie calling.” All went quiet around 1 p.m., when the eclipse ended.
“The bald eagle flew down to the sandhill cranes. About 30 minutes later he flew about 20 feet over my head with crows trying to harass him. I wonder if he tried to get some fledgling sandhill cranes or crows,” she said.
When the sun returned, Richter noticed a female Western tanager, goldfinches and bumblebees feeding on the thistles. At about noon, a large flock of geese flew over to the wetlands; about 1 p.m. they flew back to the Snake River.
“At my house, with the wildlife, it was anything but quiet,” she wrote.
Field notes: Hunter Marrow and Tracy Blue saw two sage thrashers on Thursday.
Leine Stikkel observed a huge flock of at least 100 ravens or crows flying at the south end of the butte at Spring Gulch and Highway 22 on Aug. 17.
Joe Burke noted a huge flock of either crows or ravens — too many to count — flying over Skyline Ranch heading southwest on Saturday.
Susan Patla reported waves of birds in the Packsaddle subdivision in Teton Valley, Idaho. Three types of warblers — yellow-rumped, MacGillivray’s and orange-crowned — flocks of Western tanagers, evening grosbeaks, warbling vireos and chipping sparrows.
A spotted towhee Susan has observed throughout the summer has made a reappearance. She also reported an adult Cooper’s hawk with two fledged young, as well as a red-naped sapsucker eating serviceberries.
Serviceberries and hawthorn are plentiful this year, providing forage for many species.
Looking ahead, fall is coming.