Creature Feature

Creature Feature – My Wild Valentine

Posted by  //  February 4, 2024  //  Articles, Creature Feature

Okay, it’s true that animals don’t exchange Valentines, but they DO have other ways of letting potential mates know they’re “in the mood”… and believe it or not, romance is already in full swing for lots of wildlife.

Great Horned Owls get an early start on romance each year.  Pairs engage in passionate hooting duets and cuddling courtship rituals.  Mating and nesting in the middle of winter may seem crazy, but it gives their owlets more time to grow and develop the hunting skills necessary to survive on their own.  (Please note: since rodents make up the majority of prey for owls and their young, never use rodenticides, which kill millions of owls, hawks, and other wildlife each year when they eat poisoned mice and rats.)  

Red Foxes are also looking for love in February.  Typically, foxes are faithful partners and maintain lifelong bonds.  In fact, if the vixen dies, her mate often stays “single” the rest of his life.  Should you hear human-like screams coming from the woods at night, don’t fret – the hair-raising screeches are likely the mating calls of amorous foxes!

Depending on the region, this month is peak breeding season for several other wildlife species native to New York including Bald Eagles, Bobcats, Eastern Coyotes, Beavers, Cottontail Rabbits, Striped Skunks, and Gray Squirrels. There’s even an unusual looking fish called the Burbot that spawns under lake ice each winter!  I guess February inspires romance in all kinds of Valentines… even the “wildest” of lovers.

By Margie Manthey
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

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