Love in the Credit River Watershed
Valentine’s Day is around the corner, which makes it the perfect time to celebrate love in the Credit River Watershed. According to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), about five per cent of all mammal species and 90 per cent of bird species are monogamous. This means they choose a partner and stick with them through thick and thin.
Here are five wildlife species in the Credit River Watershed to praise for their loyalty:
Beavers live in colonies. Beaver pairs raise their young, known as kits. After about two years of living with mom and dad, young eager beavers move out and find their own mates. Beaver couples stay together for about 20 years!
For Canada geese, dating is a dance. The initial courting behavior involves males dipping their neck up and down. Interested females will dip back in unison. Between February and April, look for geese doing their dance along the Credit River.
Canada geese take protecting their loved ones seriously. They’re so committed to their mate that they’ll put themselves in danger to protect their partner. If one member of the pair is injured, the other will guard them until they recover or pass away.
Owls are monogamous – either seasonally or for life. Owls mate in winter and the hatchlings are born in spring. Mating rituals vary from species to species but usually involve calling, which sound like loud barks or a screeching cat. They make these special sounds to one another to indicate their interest.
Barn owls are one species that mates for life. Male suitors bring the females presents such as food offerings.
Coyotes are among the most faithful of all species. Researchers from Ohio State University followed 236 coyotes in the Chicago area over a six-year period. They found zero evidence of polygamy or of a mate ever leaving its partner while they were still alive. Talk about loyal!
Coyote breeding season runs from late December through March and pups are born in the early spring. Females have a gestation period of 63 days and give birth to groups of three to 12 young at once.
In early spring, it may look like red-tailed hawks are training for the Olympics but their acrobatic dances in the sky are a mating ritual. They begin their courtship flights by circling slowly at heights of 1,000 feet or more. The male approaches the female from above, quickly touching her to let her know he’s interested.
This sets off a series of tumbles and dives at speeds of nearly 160 kilometers per hour. They may lock bills or talons, and the male may pass food to the female. When the female touches down on a perch the male spirals down to join her and mating takes place.
Just like us, animals know what it takes to make a relationship last. Whether or not it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s always a good time to appreciate how hard wildlife work to survive.
Love is in the air! You can send your loved one a Valentine’s day eCard and show your love for nature at the same time with a donation to Credit Valley Conservation Foundation. Your gift will help fund critical CVC initiatives, including environmental restoration, parks, trails and nature-based recreation that keeps us all healthy, happy and connected.
By CVC’s Kimberley Laird, Associate, Marketing and Communications