Considering I live next to a lake and see my great share of baby geese, ducks, turtles and more—and considering the fascination and admiration I have for these beyond adorable baby animals, I thought it appropriate to give a bit of attention to the new life each spring brings to the world and to Indian country.
Our animal brothers and sisters bring us constant reminders and teachings that we may not always hear, but let’s take some time today to recognize the new lives brought to us.
Here are some of the cute baby animals we cherish in Indian country.
Geese mate for life and stay together with real dedication. It was known by early farmers that they could not kill a goose otherwise the gander would be trouble for the farm. Though it is a sad sentiment, it is the origin of well-known term, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
Some of the great things we all see in geese are their loud honking and their all-too familiar V-shape when they migrate. Flying in the formation is a lesson in flight dynamics, as it increases their ability to fly longer by about 70 percent.
Goslings are raised with fierce dedication, beginning with the goose mother who sits on her eggs the entire time, while the gander stands close by fiercely warding off predators. A group of geese is called a “skein” while flying, a “gaggle” on the ground and a “flock” anytime.
Much like geese, wolves usually stay with a mate for life. They are highly territorial and follow a strict family structure, with an alpha male and alpha female, meaning a head male and head female. Wolves usually breed in the winter and have their pups in the spring. Wolves feed their pups by regurgitating their food. The pups are full grown by two years of age.
Bison have a long connection in history to Native tribes in the Great Plains as the animal has long been a source of sustenance and inspiration for tribes. On May 9, 2016, President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act, making the American bison the national mammal of the United States. When they are full grown, male bulls can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, run up to 40 mph and jump as high as 6 feet. Bison calves can weigh from 30 to 70 pounds at birth.
Baby bison are also called Red Dogs, because their fur is orange/red in color at birth.
One of the most well-known Native stories about the turtle is the creation story, in which a giant turtle had dirt placed onto its back by a muskrat, creating Turtle Island. Turtles have been around for 215 million years.
Some species of turtles lay eggs that allow you to tell the sex of the turtle by the temperature of the egg. Lower temperatures indicate a male while higher temperatures indicate a female.
Eagles can see prey two miles away. They fly the highest of all birds, thus the reason Native people have always sent prayers to the eagle so that the prayers could be received by the Creator.
Eagles also generally mate for life. Newborn eaglets gain about a pound every five days; at six weeks, they are nearly as large as their parents.
Rez Puppies (Pubby’s)
What’s not to love about a Rez puppy! We all have our stories of man and woman’s best friend and those unsolicited baby puppies who came along from who knows where!
Quick puppy facts: A average puppy spends about 14 hours a day sleeping. Born deaf, blind and without teeth, puppies gain their sense of smell at three weeks old.
We love you baby rez pubbys! Thanks for always being there for us!
Did you know coyotes walk on their tiptoes to avoid detection? This Native trickster is one of the smartest canines, and uses a series of yelps, howls, squeaks and barks to communicate an untold amount of information to their packs.
Coyotes can have between 1 and 19 pups in their litters.
The raven is the largest bird in the crow family and live an average of 40 years old. Ravens are considered the most intelligent of all birds and have been known to perform complex tasks, such as using teams to distract predators with one raven while the other raven steals the food from the distracted predator.
While the raven is thought to be a harbinger of bad tidings in many cultures, many Native tribes honor the raven with clans, artwork and reverence as a noble friend and a trickster. Ravens have been seen plucking at the tail of a sleeping wolf, just to bug him while he was sleeping.
Raven chicks grow rapidly, and can put on 1.2 to 1.4 grams per day.
Ravens can talk as well as a parrot, as is this one is seen saying ‘nevermore’ in this youtube video.
Follow Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) - ICMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wows and Sports Editor - Follow @VinceSchilling
Vincent Schilling's Mohawk name is Tsio:Kwaris (Black Raven) and often interviews geese. Check out his goose interviews on soundcloud.