Animal Moms of the Shawangunks

by Cathy Shiga-Gattullo, Interpretive Education Coordinator
This Mother’s Day, we’re celebrating the wonders of motherhood with these amazing animal moms of the Shawangunks.

© David Johnson
©David Johnson

Red Fox

In February or March, fox cubs are born deaf, blind, and completely dependent upon their mother for food and warmth. For the first couple of weeks the mother rarely leaves them, depending on the male and probably other foxes for food.

At about 8 weeks, cubs are very active, playing for long periods chasing each other or chewing a variety of objects that they find. Fox parents are very permissive, allowing their cubs to wrestle and chew on them!

© John Hayes
©Renee Zernitsky

White-tail Deer

During the first month of their lives, fawns hide, rarely moving more than 30 feet from their birthplace. Their mother feeds nearby, returning to nurse or if the fawn is in danger.

After about a month, fawns travel with their mothers, learning areas where there is food and good cover.

Young deer stay with their mothers long after they have stopped nursing — males for about a year, females for about two.

© David Johnson
© David Johnson

Barn Swallows

Barn Swallows build their nests using mud they collect in their bills, often mixing it with grass stems to make pellets. The nest’s sides are built up into a half-cup or full cup shape, about 3 inches across at the rim and 2 inches deep. The birds line the cup first with grass, then feathers, and in colonies may steal nest-lining materials from neighboring nests. When reusing nests, Barn Swallows clean out old feathers and add new mud to the nest’s rim.

Their broods of 3–7 eggs hatch in about two weeks, after which the parents bring their hungry babies insects that they catch on the wing.