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Big Bear, Baby Bears, and Beauty - UPDATE May 9, 2022

Katrina and cubsKatrina and cubs

The big bear was a mystery bear until the team and photos solved it. It’s Katrina, Braveheart’s 3-year-old daughter. The baby bears are Katrina’s first litter, and, like her mother did back in 2005, she had three cubs right off. In fact, of the six bears that had 3 cubs at the age of 3, four of them were from Braveheart and her descendents: Samantha, Katrina, and Ethyl (daughter of Samantha).Mystery Female beside Hwy 169Female by Hwy. 169

In total, of the 26 mothers who had cubs at three, six (23%) had one, 13 (50%) had two, six (23%) had three, and one (4%) had four, making the average litter size 2.16 with the help of Braveheart. The one that messed up the pattern by beating Braveheart and her descendent with a litter of four was Keefer, daughter of RC, granddaughter of Shadow. But Braveheart would be proud to know that her descendents continued her high early reproductive rate of three cubs.

Of the 19 that had their first cubs at four, three (16%) had one, 12 (63%) had two, and four (21%) had three, making the average litter size 2.05 cubs.

Katrina and cubsKatrina and cubs Katrina's blazeKatrina's blaze Katrinas cubsKatrina and cubs

The back story about hungry mother Katrina is that she was eating grass within sight of Highway 169 and cars were stopping to take pictures, including me. We couldn’t see markings well enough to figure out who this bear was. But in one of the pictures, Katrina put her foreleg forward just far enough to reveal that she was lactating, narrowing the choices. Five hours later, she brought her three cubs to one of the feeders a mile and a half away. Pictures there showed her to be the same bears as was by the highway and they included a good picture of her chest blaze as well as cute pictures of her cubs. The team checked. It was Katrina.

Yellow rumped warbler maleYellow-rumped warbler male

The Beauty was this Yellow-Rumped Warbler, which is usually the first kind of warbler to arrive. It was my first view of a warbler this year, and it was outside my window on the railing. What is new to me is that it has a sunflower seed heart in its beak. On the Internet I couldn’t find any mention that they eat birdseed or any seed. They are insect eaters. I think the late spring is the reason. I saw a similar thing some years ago with three other species of warbler in a late spring with no insects to speak of yet. Cape May, Tennessee, and Nashville Warblers were eating nectar from wild plum flowers. It was so unusual that I wrote it up Nectar-feeding by Cape May, Tennessee, and Nashville Warblers in Minnesota.

Just 12 minutes ago, I got a call that Shadow was probably seen! One person saw the unusual stride. Another saw the light face. We’ll know more tomorrow. Sounds to me like the second oldest black bear on record has added another year, making her 35. We’ll know for sure soon.

Thank you for all you do,
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center

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