26 January 2010

The Contrast

 If you had to tend to a baby, which nesting situation would you choose?

A. In a den in Minnesota with subzero temps and snow on your back 
B. On a nest in California with bouts of rain and sun on your back 

Both these snaps shots from webcams illustrate 
the wonders of nature this time of year.
The birth of a cub and the hatch of hummingbirds both occurred last week 
in different parts of the country and in an absolute contrast of climates.
In addition to the obvious visual contrast,
the audio portions of the cams point out the differences of the two sites.
In the bear cam, one can hear chickadees calling, coyotes howling, sleet falling
but most often nothing but the quiet of the north woods in winter.
In the hummingbird's world, there is lots of birdsong, dogs barking,
leafblowers running, cars starting, people talking and rain falling.
The bear cub is creating its own audio show with its unique noises 
that signal its state of mind.

23 January 2010

Cub in the den, cub in the den!

Lily had her cub yesterday at 11:38 am CT.
As far as the researchers know, she had just one cub,
judging by her actions and the sounds coming from the cub. 
She will keep the cub hidden for quite some time as it stays warm and nurses huddled up in her body. 

According to the biologist Sue Mansfield :
"The cubs will be nearly hairless when born so should appear much lighter than Lily. She will likely keep them closely tucked beneath her and we may not even see them – but we should hear them. They will cry if they are cold or hungry. When cubs are comfortable and content they make a motor-like humming sound. There will be no doubt about the fact there are cubs in the den! "

Lily in labor

While we await the opportunity to see peeks of the cub, 
the other real story of this event is the passionate work of Dr. Lynn Rogers.
How exciting for him to not only witness for the first time a live birth of a cub in his 43 years of studying bears but also to share this event 
over the internet with 50,000 real-time viewers.
And there will be plenty more internet excitement to come as this little cub grows and finally leaves the den in mid-April.

There are always jokes about how Minnesotans get through the winter, 
even accusing us of "sleeping with bears" to pass the season.
Well now with our native bear Lily, there might be some truth to that saying.

21 January 2010

The Mother of all Web Cams

Lily the Black Bear appears to be starting labor contractions
with over 9,000 viewers watching her on the internet.  
This is shaping up to be the biggest show ever in wildlife web cams. 
If she does have a cub or two, 
her new family will be the latest in reality shows, only internet-style.

 Hopefully the server will not overload and the camera will continue to document this very interesting segment of bear behavior.

There have been many cams documenting birds and their nests.
There is an active hummingbird cam right now in California. 

In the last few years, barn owls have provided 
an unique view of their behavior through cams in their nest boxes.

The baby owls have some fascinating actions
like swallowing whole, mice and rats as big as them, in a few mad gulps.
The owls will usually start their nesting in March and can be 
watched on Cornell's Nestcams site.

One of the new nest cams last year featured a 
chimney swift nest which is basically a few sticks
stuck together using saliva to the inside of a chimney or tower.
It is amazing to see how the babies grow in the tiny nest.

But birds are not as cuddly and hug-gable (figuratively) as a bear.
They just can't compete with the cuteness of a bear, let alone a tiny cub. 

Lily and her possible cubs could likely be one of the biggest
wildlife events on the internet to date.

Ahh, the wonders of the Internet. 
While a bear sleeps in her den outside of Ely, Minnesota,
thousands around the world view into her world from their desktops!

03 January 2010

Subzero Robins

Robins greeting the -20 degree morning.
robins are not uncommon in Minnesota,
most often appearing in flocks.
As long as they have a good source of berries
such as crabapples or the hackberries in this tree,
they can survive the chill and snow.

One important thing they need is water.
Robins drink lots of water so having a heated
bird bath will be a hit with
the flock
and keep them around.

Puffed out and surviving the cold -
another view of a bird we associate with summer.