This elk herds spends the summers up very high in alpine meadows and returns to lower elevation for the autumn. When they first come back, the herd crackles with energy. The large bulls bugle regularly, as they round up cows into harems for mating season. Do you see the bull in this photo?
As fall slides into winter, the ponds ice over, and the elk herd is noticeably calmer. The bulls no longer bugle. However, the herd is not silent. The calves frequently call for their moms, making high pitched sounds. Some elk forget to be careful about the still thin ice on ponds and fall through into the water. The pond with my trail camera isn't deep so they easily escape, receiving an important reminder without dire consequences.
In the dead of winter, the tone of the elk herd is deadly serious. No one is wasting energy vocalizing as they ride out a snow storm complete with high winds. Rather, they focus on eating the dead and dry foliage so that they have the calories to survive the cold. Their coats are so thick that snow accumulates on them rather than being melted by their body heat.
It's not easy being an elk in winter. Check out the trail cam video that can give a view from inside or very close to an elk herd that you can never see/hear if you're observing the elk in person.
Many thanks to the LLB Gang for hosting the Nature Friday Blog Hop.