Since it's Valentine's Day, our Blogville Mayors have asked us to post something related to wildlife and this holiday. Because bears have the most visible patterns of mating and raising their young, I thought that I'd tell you about what I've observed of bear mating season and cub raising.
Every spring, I look forward to the love parade by the bears during their mating season in May and June. The male bears vigorously mark certain trees along a bear trail, going up on their hind legs and rubbing their backs on the trees.
Here's a series of photos of a young male bear marking one of the "bear trees" during mating season.
Then, other bears sniff the tree, getting information about who has been marking the tree.
Females who are looking for a mate follow the scent trail laid down by a male bear like the one shown above. Some evidence shows that females choose their mates rather than vice versa. So, a female who liked the scent on this tree might follow the male bear until she finds him.
If you want to see a video of bears marking trees, I have made a few. Here's a link to one of them.You can look through my YouTube account to see more.
After mating, female bears start eating, almost continuously, for the rest of the summer. If they are fat and healthy when they go into a den, the fertilized egg develops into a fetus that is born in January.
One of our local female bears, who I've watched for years, is due to have cubs this winter. If I'm lucky, I'll capture photos of her with her tiny cubs in early spring. Four years ago, I was lucky. First she walked to the east with her cubs (one is lagging behind).
This is the same sow, hours later. She must have left her cubs in a tree.
got priceless photos of the mother and yearlings playing at the mouth of the den in the spring.
After the yearlings and mother leave the den, they stay together for another month or so. Then the mother sends the yearlings off on their own, and she embarks on finding a mate for her next litter of cubs.
I can't wait to see the bears emerge. I love seeing who has new cubs and who is on the mating trail. Bears are my favorite animals!!!!
Happy Valentine's Day! This was Shyla's Valentine's Dance that she did recently.