Published On: Mon, Jan 16th, 2023

BACKYARD BIRDING IN MERIDA, YUCATAN AND BEYOND-PUMAS PLAYING IN PATAGONIA, CHILE

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Two ten month old puma cubs, a male and female, were finally reunited after a five day search by the mom and male cub, the first two pumas I saw on my five day puma trekking adventure.

Several times during the five days I encountered  both the mom and brother calling for their daughter/sibling. In the first few seconds of this YouTube video you can hear the calling vocalization by a puma for her cubs which sounds much louder to me than what I heard in Patagonia.

What surprised me was how the mother puma never quit searching and calling for her missing cub whether she was feeding at a kill, resting, traveling or climbing up a mountain. I’d not seen or read about that behavior lasting for five days, maybe a day or two, but not five. I am familiar with cattle, but even a mother cow who’d lost a calf didn’t call for five days.

And on my last puma outing while returning to my hotel, there were the three pumas next to the road! I asked where the young female had been and the puma tracker suggested she had been hiding. We had heard of a big male that had returned to the area, who often kills cubs, injures females, and exploits/dines  on female-killed carcasses. (Many male pumas do this, but this particular male uses extreme aggression.)

Male cub on left, smaller female in center, with puma mother in back

Enjoy a few images of their play which develops coordination and strength. Stalking, leaping, pouncing, wrestling, and running develop skills to hunt. The male cub picked up something and ran with it while tempting the female cub to try and take it away. Playing keep-away and chasing help with social bonding which is evident with all three pumas and frankly a joy to watch. And mental stimulation with those “games and activities” helps ensure active brains.

Male cub carrying something in mouth to lure sister to chase
Sister arrives to “attack” sibling puma
Play-fighting with sister atop male sibling
Sister entices another chase by sibling brother
And another chase begins between siblings

Plus the young male left his sister to play-attack his mom.

Mom Puma and male cub running and attack-playing
Male cub “attacks” mom Puma

I know that cubs can be killed or die by several causes, but I will admit how thrilled I was she had survived.

Expressive puma cub

This last family portrait occurred before they played. Having the chance to see the two cubs and their mom reunite and to play with each other in this photo sequence was a grand finale to an amazing trip to Patagonia, Chile!

Male cub, female cub, Mom Puma on right

Stay tuned for columns about pumas, penguins, flamingos, caracaras, and a variety of other Chilean birds. Some will look similar to those in the Yucatan and USA.

MEANWHILE, GO OUTDOORS TO PLAY IN NATURE!

For this holiday season, may there be peace, respect, and tolerance:

MERRY CHRISTMAS, FELIZ NAVIDAD, HAPPY HANUKKAH, HAPPY KWANZAA, BUONE FESTE NATALIZIE, KURISUMASU OMEDETO, JOYEUX NOEL, FROEHLICHE WEIHNACHTEN, FELIZ NATAL, KRISMASI NJEMA, SAWAT DEE WAN, AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS

DISCLAIMER: References do not agree. Plus I may not have found the latest research in my efforts.

En El Limite/On the Edge Puma Torres del Paine by Nicolás Lagos Silva;  A Wildlife Guide to Chile

https://cdr.lib.unc.edu/concern/honors_theses/v979v836s

Cherie Pittillo, “nature inspired,” photographer and author, explores nature everywhere she goes. She’s identified 56 bird species in her Merida, Yucatan backyard view. Her monthly column features anecdotes about birding in Merida, Yucatan and also wildlife beyond the Yucatan.

Contact: all4birdies@gmail.com  All rights reserved, ©Cherie Pittillo

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