Easter in the Wildlife Calendar

Mallard Duckling, a classic Easter baby.

Easter is a holiday that a lot of us look forward to, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, and even more especially when you’re involved in wildlife conservation and have a general interest in wildlife. Easter marks the start or very near start of baby season in the wild and in a lot of farm animals too. It is at this time of year where birds will be coming together to breed, lay their eggs and hatch their chick, there will be baby lambs on many farms across the country, all over the New Forest we’ll start to see foals, calves, baby donkeys and maybe a few hares and rabbits about the place. 

New Forest calf photographed a few years ago

Why do we see so many young animals appearing at this time?

This time of year starts to see better weather, which includes more sunshine, slightly less rain and warmer temperatures. This change in season starts to see buds appearing on trees and bushes, flowers starting to sprout out of the ground and therefore starting to provide new food to the animals on the lower end of the food chain. This new abundance of food means that animals have the energy to produce young, and also have the means to provide for their young once they are born. When the herbivorous animals produce their young, that gives omnivorous and carnivorous animals a bigger selection and abundance of food choice too. 

Signet (baby swan) photographed a few years ago.

It is important that young animals have an abundance of food to eat as they need the energy to grow and become strong, allowing them to mature into adults and leave their parents at the appropriate time. Without an abundance of food, the parents would also suffer and put their health at huge risk of not being able to recover if there isn’t enough food for them too. 

Other areas of the world with an abundance of wildlife at this time of year

I’m not sure if too many other areas experience a baby boom of wildlife at this time of year, especially the southern hemisphere as they are going into autumn and starting to prepare for winter at this time; however, countries that exist in the vicinity of the equator seem to have babies appearing at this time. 

This zebra foal had been born literally minutes before we found it, you can still see a few of the blood stains left on its legs.

I visited Tanzania in March 2018, experiencing the baby season of the wildebeests in the southern corner of the Serengeti. There were hundreds of thousands of wildebeest calves being born, zebra foals and perhaps more herbivores that I didn’t see at that time. I also saw a fair amount of lion cubs at this time too. The southern Serengeti was in its rainy season, making the grass grow lush and long, attracting the wildebeest and the other animals that migrate with them to the area. With this abundance of new grass, it made the perfect areas to give birth. Not only did it provide a large amount of food for the new mothers so that they could produce a good amount of milk for their young, the long grass also helped to hide their young from predators. With the abundance of young wildebeest and zebra, being easier to catch as they are a lot smaller and more grabbable than the adults, it provided predators with a good food source to provide for their young, which made sense why everything seemed to be having babies at this time of year. 

Young lion cub, found not too far away from the young zebra foal in the previous photo.

Helping the wildlife out

Due to this being the baby season for wildlife, it is imperative that we don’t disturb any animals when we go out to enjoy nature. 

Some simple rules to follow include: sticking to already made paths – in doing this, you’re reducing the risk of walking through a ground-nesting bird area, or stumbling across an animal giving birth which already puts them on edge. Always remember to watch your step so that you don’t accidently damage bird nests, fall down rabbit warrens or step in icky after-birth. 

Dogs should be on leads in wildlife areas – there is a huge risk of dogs either accidently or purposefully injuring/killing young wildlife, and in this day and age where numerous species are suffering low numbers, we must do everything we can to give the young animals the best chance of surviving. 

Also, always observe from a safe distance – new mums can be especially feisty and could harm you if you get too close, especially if they fear you pose a great threat to their young. 

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