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Bill Marchel: Wild Babies

The photos on this page portray the young of both common and rarely seen animals inhabiting our wild outdoors.

Two adult loons and two baby loons on a lake.
Loon chicks oftentimes ride atop their parents backs. Both adults care for the young, feeding them minnows and small fish until the chicks are old enough to capture prey on their own.
Contributed / Bill Marchel
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BRAINERD — Spring and early summer are seasons of renewal for the creatures that inhabit our woods, fields and waters. Wild parents, furred and feathered, will be busy feeding and caring for their new families. Some, like red foxes and great horned owls, already are.

A white-tailed fawn deer laying on the ground.
Born in late May or early June, white-tailed deer fawns spend the day lying in seclusion for the first few weeks after birth, relying on their mother's milk for food. They grow quickly and are very capable of escape within few days of birth.
Contributed / Bill Marchel

In a few weeks whitetail does will be nursing growing fawns. In a hollow tree deep in a shadowy oak forest, young raccoons will find there is life beyond the confines of their den.

Some parents and young are quite evident, like the loon pair loafing with their downy chicks on a calm lake. Other wild creatures raise their young in relative seclusion. Ducklings for instance, are masters of camouflage, and they scurry for cover when their alert mother detects danger and gives them a signal.

Humans are always tempted to scoop up wild babies, assuming they have been abandoned, but that’s usually not the case, so it’s best to leave them alone since the parent or parents are usually nearby.

The photos on this page portray the young of both common and rarely seen animals inhabiting our wild outdoors.


Four mallard ducklings.
These mallard ducklings have just hatched, and will leave the nest within one day, never to return. They rely on their mother for protection and warmth, but must feed themselves by capturing insects.
Contributed / Bill Marchel

BILL MARCHEL is a wildlife and outdoors photographer and writer whose work appears in many regional and national publications as well as the Brainerd Dispatch. He may be reached at bill@billmarchel.com. You also can visit his website at BillMARCHEL.com.

A baby sandhill crane in a nest next to an egg about to hatch.
This 1-day-old sandhill crane will leave the nest a day or so after birth, accompanied by its parents. Note the other egg is beginning to hatch. Sandhill cranes almost always have just two young.
Contributed / Bill Marchel

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