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Friends –

Bighorn sheep are a big deal around here, but are they ever hard to find! Desert bighorn are native to Utah and although once scarce, their numbers are growing. But I do a lot of hiking here in Moab and if the sheep population is truly growing, then either I need new glasses, or they must certainly know how to hide.

I've seen some in a Montana parking lot. And have spotted others in a Nevada wilderness. But as much as I have hiked around here, I've never seen one in Utah. I know they camouflage. Their patchy earth-toned hides blend in perfectly with the high rock walls that they live in. And the fact that they can go long without water -- almost like a camel – means that they can stay perched in hiding places for forever if you try to wait for them at a water hole.

I only spotted some Bighorn one time in Nevada because I was told they were there. So, I systematically studied the rocky wall and waited for it to move. It felt like a sweet discovery when the Bighorn bodies finally appeared.

I really wish I could see them closer and more often. They are so admirable! For one thing, their ability to scale steep walls on the tiniest support is something to be envied. Their eyes are also fascinating, the pupils of which are not round like yours and mine. Nor are they vertical slits like a cat. Bighorn eyeball pupils have really cool, shoe box-shaped horizontal openings which apparently allow them to get a panoramic view of everything around them at the same time. This makes them more watchful of predators hungry for bighorn dinner. PLUS, get this: their eyeballs rotate when they lower their heads (as in grazing) so that the shoe-box pupils always stay level with the terrain and never stop their watchfulness. Quite the trick!

Well, anyway, my inability to spot bighorn sheep may go on forever. This is because I learned that December is the best season to spot them. They go into rut and in the chase of sex they forget about caution. December? That is grandkid time for me.

As always, 'Hidden' is available for your donation to a worthwhile non-profit. Although, it may go up to Bighorn Gallery (fittingly enough) by Thursday if it is not spoken for first. I credit my sister KT for the photo that I used to create this painting.

Be well,

Margie Lopez Read