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Friday, March 11, 2016

Sow and cubs still snuggled in den

A bear den update... For new readers, I have trail cameras monitoring the activity in a small cave where a sow is denning this winter. After a quiet December and January, she gave birth to cubs. The family is still snuggled in the den as the cubs grow and develop.

The sow has not come out of the den since the birth of her cubs in the very early hours of 1/31. We saw her outside for short walks and eating snow on the day before the birth.

Now, the cubs probably weigh around 2 lbs each. Their eyes are probably not open yet. They need their mother to stay wrapped around them to keep them warm and to let them nurse. The mother bear loses about a half pound per day as the cubs draw energy from her reserves through nursing.

It's miraculous to me that a mother bear gave birth in this small cave nestled in our woods, and now the family is holed up in that cave while the cubs develop. In all likelihood, we will see the cubs come outside the den for the first time sometime in late March or April.

There are bear biologists in Minnesota who know more about den life and cub development than anyone else. They have a website that even includes a video from a camera placed inside the den. It shows a mother bear interacting with her three cubs.

In Minnesota, bear cubs are usually born around 1/21. Our bear cubs were born about 10 days later than that so you need to add 10 days to all of the dates that they give for various developments in the cubs and mother. I talked with one of the bear biologists (Lynn Rogers) from Minnesota, and he predicts that our cubs' eyes will open around 3/15. The date that they first come out of the den will depend on how much snow there is by the den.

Here's a video including clips from the past 3 weeks that you can watch here or at Youtube. Although the bears didn't come fully outside the den, the cubs can be heard bawling, probably when they get cold or lose their lock on a nipple for nursing. Enjoy!

I expect that the next round of video clips will be very interesting because they'll include the mother and cubs spending time outside the den. I'm so excited to see what footage we get!

Happy Friday!


  1. I'm going to have to come back and watch the video, as my laptop is not functioning well at the moment - can barely manage to load web pages. Oh well, I'll catch up, hopefully before the babies are out and about!

  2. Love hearing those cubs and can't wait for the cubs to emerge.

  3. That sure will be exciting and you know we will be waiting to see the photos!

  4. Thanks for the "cub"date - we can't wait to see the cubs. Have a great weekend.

  5. We will be counting down the days until we get to see those cubs.

  6. This is so cool. We hear the babies crying

  7. It is so exciting to see these things happen here.

    Anne and Ziggy

  8. It's just amazing. We can't wait to see the cubs!

  9. I think the mom and the cubs should become the blogville citizenship, it's great to "know" them from the furst day :o) my momma said she would love to hug the cubs as she heard them.... wow that would end bad lol

  10. i can't wait to see them come romping out of that cave. this is so amazing to me

  11. As I walk now in this warmish weather, I think of bears coming out of the dens early. However, no signs of them on my trails. Snow is certainly melting though. I think we're to have some minor storms this week.

  12. wonderful film, so well presented.
    from being a mom, i did and do sleep, but the tiniest sound and i am awake. I think it is quite common, most likely built into our genetic make up to protect and survive.


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