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Big Sky
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Big Sky Country

Big Sky Country

In western North America, the Rocky Mountains rise to snow-capped peaks. In this environment, life changes with elevation. Lichens and grasses are found near the mountain summits. Below the timberline, evergreen forests of spruce, fir, and pine clad the slopes. Mule deer and elk winter at lower levels, moving higher in the summer. Pumas and eagles range widely in search of food.

In Native American times, the American Midwest was a vast expanse of grassland hosting millions of bison and pronghorns, miles of prairie dog towns, innumerable small mammals, and predators such as the coyote and wolf. From the Rockies eastward, the land gradually slopes downward toward the Mississippi. Short grasses of the high western plains merge with the tall grasses of the prairie lowlands to the east.


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Pronghorn Big Sky Country

Pronghorn

Antilocapra americana

Biome: Big Sky Country

Classification: Mammals

Biography: Built for speed, the pronghorn is the fastest land animal in North America and is second only to the cheetah worldwide. It can sprint close to 60 mph for short distances and cruise at 40 mph for miles at a time. Large protruding eyes provide a wide field of vision for keen... More >


Sandhill Crane Big Sky Country

Sandhill Crane

Grus candensis

Biome: Big Sky Country

Classification: Birds

Biography: Time traveler

A ten million year old sandhill crane fossil was found in Nebraska. This discovery makes them the oldest known surviving bird species. These living fossils still follow their ancient migratory routes from breeding grounds in the northern prairie marshes to... More >


Turkey Vulture Big Sky Country

Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura

Biome: Big Sky Country

Classification: Birds

Biography: Lacking the strong grasping talons needed for killing live prey, turkey vultures eat carrion, the flesh of dead animals. Vultures spend hours soaring over the countryside, with their long wings held in a shallow "V" while tilting from side to side. Excellent eyesight and a... More >


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