SciSun: Good Mom Bad Mom   Leave a comment

Mothers have quite the responsibility. Wildlife mothers, in particular (mothers of animals that are wildlife. Not necessarily mothers of children that act wild) have to make decisions and choices based upon the safety, protection, health and well-being of their children, while constantly aware of dangers from field and sky: From predators looking for an easy meal; to other members of the group who may not want babies around; to, now more than ever, pressures of a human world where cars, poisons, unsafe discarded food, backyard dogs and cats, and even other children (of the human type) are constant concerns that to wildlife are just more threats in a world already threatening. And animal mothers have to deal with all of it, without the help of a minivan, take out dinners, synched schedules, self-help books or even a convenient coffee bistro on every corner.

On our hikes, nature walks or even in own back yard we might come across young animals such as baby birds; rabbits; even deer who look so small and lonely and vulnerable and abandoned, we just want to help. What kind of mother would leave her babies alone, anyway? These modern wildlife mothers just have no idea how to care for a family. But temporarily leaving their young alone is not only the best way for many wild animals to care for their offspring; it’s the way generations of these species have lived and succeeded in a world that was dangerous long before they had to contend with human development and urban and suburban environments and people who want to help ‘abandoned’ babies yet are doing more harm, than good.

Although clearly told by her mother to 'Not move from where I left you', Fionna the Fawn couldn't help sneaking into the neighbors' pool.

Although clearly told by her mother to ‘Not move from where I left you’, Fionna the Fawn couldn’t help sneaking into the neighbors’ pool.


While by our standards mothers who leave their children might be considered as poor role models (“Do what I say, not what I do!”), this ‘bad’ mothering is a wildlife adaptation that helps hide young animals from predators and draw attention away from the newly-born and toward the adult parents who are better equipped to evade, outrun, or outfox a fox or other predator. Wildlife mothers can leave their babies, safely hidden in tall grass, among shrubbery, or in other thick vegetation for hours or even a day, but always return to feed, care for, and check on the children. Young that seem abandoned and lonely are actually sitting quietly waiting for mothers’ (and sometimes fathers’) return, acting upon thousands of years of evolution and possibly doing just what mother tells them to. (Why human children don’t naturally sit quietly and do what their parents tell them to do, we don’t know.). Many wildlife young even have specialized camouflaged fur and feather patterns, make only soft sounds, and lack any strong odor which helps them hide. Again, just the opposite of human children.

So while any ‘abandoned’ wild baby is cause for our notice; it’s not necessarily cause for our attention. An animal that has been left for more than a day may require assistance from a qualified wildlife rehabilitator; and a baby bird, fallen from its nest, would need a helping hand to place it back in its home (the baby won’t be neglected because a human has touched it. That’s an old wives tale, probably told by an old wife who wasn’t a mother). Generally, the best way to help wildlife young is to leave them alone; keep a respective watch for return of the parents; and enjoy the sight of wild nature overcoming the challenges of living a wild life in a human-centered world. Because while a good wildlife mother might seem to ignore her children; only a bad human mother will interfere with the wildness that surrounds us all.,4669,7-192-71992_71993-378915–,00.html


Michonne Says: My mother always watched us to be certain we didn’t get in trouble and If we went too far way she’d call us back and then we’d never hear the end of it. When I was a baby I didn’t think the world was all that dangerous but now that I am older I see you have to be very careful and always watch for trouble, no matter where adventure takes you.

Posted May 8, 2016 by ECOVIA eco-adventure® in SciSun

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