Bighorn Sheep near Taos

Bighorn Sheep near Taos

Near Taos from a couple of months back.  These guys never did do their thing.  I guess because people were around.  Magnificent creatures.

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are the largest wild sheep in North America. Muscular males can weigh over 300 pounds and stand over three feet tall at the shoulder. Females are roughly half this size. They have wide-set eyes that provide a large angle of vision. This along with sharp hearing and a highly-developed sense of smell can detect dangers at great distances. Specialized hooves and rough soles provide a natural grip as bighorn sheep make precarious jumps and breath-taking climbs up and down sharp cliff faces such as exist in the Rio Grande Gorge.

As their name suggests, bighorn sheep have true horns that they retain throughout their life. These horns can weigh up to 30 pounds. Bighorn sheep live in social groups but rams and ewes usually only meet to mate. Rams live in bachelor groups and ewes live in herds with younger lambs. Lambs are born in the spring and walk soon after birth. They nurse up to six months. Males leave their mother's group around two to four years of age, while the females stay with their herd for life.

Mating occurs in the fall when rams use their horns as weapons of battle to fight for female mating rights. In this display, rams face each other, rear up on hind legs and pitch forward at speeds up to 40 mph. The loud crash of horns signals contact and can be heard up to one mile away. This ritual is repeated until one animal concedes and walks away. Bighorn sheep skulls are thick and bony to absorb this repeated impact with little physical injury to the ram.