A day in the life – well let me see. Let’s start with a bit of history of who I am. I am a Bison but a lot of people think of me as a Buffalo. True buffaloes are my relatives but they live in Africa and Asia, the cape buffalo and water buffalo. Only North American buffaloes are bison and two of the largest herds of bison live in Yellowstone National Park and in Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park. Below is a photo of me with my Mom when I was first born in Yellowstone National Park a few years back. Am I not adorable!!
Figure 1: Photo courtesy of Peak Photography of Montana
Anyway, back to my day. We are a social bunch so you will typically find us in herds or groups and spend most of our day grazing. We are the largest land animal in North America and therefore need a lot of food for energy. We love to graze on grasses, herbs, shrubs and twigs for an hour or two and then we rest and “chew our cud” which is basically regurgitating what I have already eaten once. I have 4 stomachs so I make sure that I get every nutrient that I can from my food before it moves along. We are constantly eating and throughout the day can move 10 – 15 miles depending on how good the grazing area is. If we are lucky we find a great spot and stay for a few days.
A couple of times a day I visit the local stream or pond for a drink of water, run and play with my friends, take several rests and occasionally take a dust bath which is my natural insect repellant!
Since I live in Yellowstone National Park, I have a lot of visitors that want to view me and take my photo. I love to pose for photos but always remember that I like my space and to stay at least 25 yards away or more. I may be big but I am agile and can run more than 30 miles per hour and pivot quickly!! So please take photos but give me my space and stay a safe distance away.
A lot of people are curious about how our species survive what can sometimes be a brutal winter. Well our thick, shaggy coat is so well insulated and we can have up to 2 inches of fat that snow can settle on our back without melting! It can also help to keep us warm similar to how a blanket would. We use our strong head and hooves in the winter to move the snow off of the vegetation below to eat. Did you know you can tell where we have been by our distinct hoof prints which look like 2 fat banana’s facing each other!
Well there Old Faithful blows so better go! If you would like to see a bison like me in our natural habitat, your best chance would be to visit Yellowstone National Park or Custer State Park in South Dakota!!