Curious Nature: A Mother’s Day in nature
A look at some of Colorado's extreme, wild mothers on a day to celebrate mothers everywhere
Happy Mother’s Day! Today we thank all of the powerful women that have shaped so many lives. From making sure our bellies are full to protecting us from the outside world, there is so much for which to be thankful. We also recognize all of the wild mothers out there that know how to follow their instincts. Some good, some bad, all extreme.
First on the roster for our extreme mothers in nature is the moose. Known to be one of the most unpredictable and dangerous creatures in Colorado, mother moose are one of the last animals you would want to encounter. We continue to see an increase in moose attacks in Colorado as they are generally unafraid of humans and, surprisingly, not all humans are afraid of them. Due to their poor eyesight, the presence of anyone or anything is enough to startle them and is likely to make them charge toward you, especially in the presence of their kin. The threat of this animal should be enough to convince you to keep your dogs on a leash in wilderness areas.
You might be thinking that black bear mother has to be on the list for one of the most extreme mothers in Colorado. They are in fact, extreme, but not for the reasons you may assume.
I was a firm believer that mother bears are aggressive when protecting their young and might even be as dangerous as running into a moose. However, this is a common myth. Black bears will give birth in their den during hibernation and tend to their cubs for about a year and a half before getting ready to mate again. Around this time, they begin to push their cubs away.
While this may seem harsh, it is to protect them from males that are looking at the mother for a mate. Sometimes, a mother black bear might even abandon her cubs in the face of an impending threat, which I find to be quite extreme. To further debunk the myth of overprotective bear mothers, they might even abandon a cub completely. While most black bears will give birth to two to three cubs, a mother might abandon a single cub because it is not worth the effort to take care of just one. It’s a cruel world out there!
The final candidate on the list of extreme mothers is the bald eagle. This mom also gets a lot of help from the father, which is rare for many families in the animal kingdom. Although bald eagles reside in the largest nest of any bird in North America, the nest building takes less than a week. With a platform high in the sky, plenty of time, large sticks, and feathers plucked from the mother, the nest will be ready to protect the eaglets, or baby eagles.
Once the nestlings are hatched, the mother will spend 90% of her time protecting them in the nest. The mother will keep the babies warm during blustery storms and even spread her wings to provide shade on sunnier days. Contrary to popular belief, the eagles are not pushed from their nest. The mother eagle prolongs her dedication to make sure her offspring are safe, continuing to provide food and encourage them to take flight and land at nearby trees. This can be considered closer to gentle parenting than extreme. Nonetheless, as any mother, their dedication is admirable.
Whether or not you and your mother get along, mothers bring us into this world and give us a chance to enjoy everything our world has to offer. Today and everyday, their sacrifices should be recognized and appreciated. Cheers to the mothers who have raised us, influenced those that were not their own, and the ones we miss.
Maddie Weinhold is a former naturalist at Walking Mountains Science Center. She wants everyone to respect their motherly figures today and every day, especially Mother Nature.
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