As we approach Mother’s Day, it’s important to honor those who raised us. But it’s also a fun time to celebrate amazing animal moms. Look no farther than Voyageurs National Park for some great examples.
Gray wolf moms have litters of four to six pups, who remain with her in the den for six to eight weeks. Only the alpha female in a pack of gray wolves will become a mother, but all adult pack members contribute to supporting her and her pups. Young wolves will stay with their parents for two or more years before leaving to start their own territory, or they may stay with the pack and eventually replace their mother or father as alpha.
Voyageurs is a paradise for waterfowl, including the beautiful and haunting common loon. Mother loons typically have one or two chicks per year. It is very difficult for the birds to walk on their awkward legs, so the moms do not travel far from the water’s edge during nesting; and they spend much of their time in the water once their chicks hatch. Loon moms (and dads!) are very devoted parents and occasionally even carry their chicks on their back!
Black bears typically have two cubs every other year. A mother bear gives birth while she is in her den for the winter, then spends the time until spring dozing on and off while her cubs nurse. (That is a lot more sleep than human moms get in the early days!) The cubs will stay with their mother throughout spring, summer, and fall and will hibernate with her the following winter. They finally strike out on their own the following spring, when they are about 1 ½ years old.
Bald eagle moms are very fortunate, as parenting duties are split evenly between moms and dads. Eagles lay one to three eggs per year, which hatch after about 35 days. The nestlings will remain in the next for 10-14 weeks, during which time both mom and dad will care for them.
Female moose are beginning to give birth this time of year. Typically, a mother has one or two calves, which grow extremely quickly and can outrun a human by five days old! (Can you imagine having to chase your baby five days after giving birth?) Moose calves stay with their mother for about a year.