Family Fun Day, Wolves, Etc. - UPDATE December 15, 2019

After church, daughter Colleen and family joined us in a wolf howl that got no response. To make ourselves feel better, Boltz at the Wolf CenterBoltz at the Wolf Centerwe told the grandkids that Donna, Kelly, Colleen, and I took first place in the first annual family wolf howling contest some three decades ago. Thinking about wolves, we visited our sister organization, the International Wolf Center, and became intrigued watching the four ambassador wolves.

Denali yawnsBoltz yawnsAt the Wolf Center, 11-year-old Denali was sleeping with 3-year-old Axel’s head resting on him, but when they got up, they became competitors at a deer carcass that Denali dominated with snarls.

What was intriguing to me was seeing how the wolves’ other competitors, ravens, knew exactly how to get part of the carcass without strife. When the wolves were actively competing with each other over the carcass, the ravens stayed out of the way. When the wolves were distracted, the ravens immediately recognized the opportunity, time after time, and crowded in for their share while the wolves, only inches away, looked away.

Denali snarling over carcassDenali snarling over carcass Wolves Alex & Denali w/ravensWolves Alex & Denali w/ravens

Meanwhile, when Boltz, a beautiful gray wolf awoke from a nap, he gave a big yawn that showed how wolf teeth differ from bear teeth. In black bears, the back teeth (from the fourth upper premolar and the first lower molar back) are blunt (called bunodont teeth) for crushing nuts, acorns, greens, etc. Boltz showed us that his back teeth are sharp shearing teeth (called sectorial teeth) for cutting meat.

Hairy woodpeckerHairy woodpeckerOut the window at the WRI, a male hairy woodpecker spread his wings and pointed his beak at a blue jay to say he was there first and wasn’t sharing his pile of sunflower seeds. The blue jay left. Hairy woodpeckers will also do that toward greedy red squirrels at times.

A fun visit with family—and a joy to see the grandkids’ interest in nature.

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