ARIZONA: Week-old JAVELINAS

Week-old Javelinas catch up with the herd

Week-old Javelinas catch up with the herd

I wish I’d been home to watch week-old javelina babies experience their first rain. I write now from Florida having left Arizona just as a rare winter storm, bringing much needed moisture, came in. I wonder – did these impossibly cute and ruggedly tough little ‘piggies’ hide under one or more of the multiple females they’d nursed on for comfort and nutrition on the days I’d observed them? Did they frolic, hunker down or simply endure our badly-needed delivery of moisture? This past week I got a glimpse at seeing the world through javelina eyes in three observations sessions at the home of a patient friend who called to say “they’re here, I can hold them”. His scattering a little extra bird seed allowed me to photograph and observe herd dynamics that proved to be far more fluid than I imagined. I knew that, unlike many hoofed mammals, female javelinas do not synchronize births and that young can appear any month of the year. But as with so much of nature – to see is to believe! This herd had two one-week old youngsters, one about a month old, two adolescents of perhaps four to six months, and a bold, fat, almost adult-sized juvenile that still tried to nurse females that matched him in size. All of the young nursed at more than one female. The two youngest were particularly tolerated and I watched them range close to several members of the herd, sampling access to potential dairy bars. They left dry females quickly, but lingered at others to take a long draw. When the weather changed the morning before I was to leave, I watched as the ample-bodied teenager took charge as a babysitting commander. He corralled the three youngest to stay crouched in grass by the stream as all adults fed with intensity. Windows of opportunity to watch such behavior are rare. I want to turn to my library to compare these notes with others. I wonder how my friend, a scholar of birds, finds time to write with distraction so close at hand. From Florida I can imagine the herd today, returning to my friend’s bird feeders where they will suck down large quantities of seed intended to lure in sparrows, thrashers, quail and some of our Southwestern winter residents. I hope current economic trends don’t threaten his bird seed budget!

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