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iTwixie Studies Prairie Dogs: Week Eight!
April 21, 2010
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This is an ultrasound machine.

What is an ultrasound? An ultrasound sends sound waves into the body. When the sound waves bounce back, a kind of shadow picture of different shapes inside the body shows up on a screen. Cool, right? Many pregnant women have ultrasounds to check on the health of their growing baby, too.

A new researcher, a graduate student from New Mexico, has joined the Prairie Dog Expert Team. This student is only here a few days to perform ultrasounds of the female prairie dogs to make sure that they are pregnant!

Cool, right?

Next week, we get to learn what the Prairie Dog Expert Team finds out from the ultrasounds! Do YOU think all of the female prairie dogs are really pregnant? Wow! This is too cool!

Just click on these links to catch up with any of the past weeks of iTwixie’s prairie dog study:

If you thought the prairie dog in the picture last week was marked, YOU ARE CORRECT! That prairie dog is known as RR7 (ring-around-the-rear 7). The marking was done in Fall 2009–before hibernation. So RR7 woke up this Spring already marked!

Researcher Notes:

  • No new white-tailed prairie dogs have emerged from hibernation.
  • Females remain busy defending their burrows and stockpiling them with mouthfuls of dry grass.
  • Females will start giving birth later this week. Then, their babies will remain underground until late May or early June.
  • New avian (birds) sightings over the last week include American avocet, American coot, American robin, cinnamon teal, long-billed dowitcher, northern kestrel, northern mockingbird, northern shoveler, and Say’s phoebe.
  • We observed no new mammals this week. We are still waiting to see our first American badger for 2010.
  • We also observed our first tiger salamander.

    On Thursday, April 15, we heard our first striped chorus frogs.  We hear them every year, but we have never been able to SEE one of those little rascals.

 

Now, it’s YOUR turn:

Don’t forget to send in YOUR guess for how many prairie dog pups will be born this season! Just write your estimation below in the comment section! Remember there are about 38 female prairie dogs in this prairie dog town.

The girl with the closest estimate of pups born this season will get a prairie dog t-shirt. Woo hoo!

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