I arose before dawn one morning last week in Grand Teton National Park to take a photo of the sun’s first rays painting a pastel swath across the mountains. A terry cloth robe of cottony clouds, however, cloaked the mountains. So…no brilliant landscape photo was to be had. I looked below the horizon and saw a mother moose and her calf enjoying a pre-dawn breakfast. (See the video below.)
Moose, the largest member of the deer family, are herbivores and ruminants who eat up to 50 pounds of food a day. The name “moose” means “twig eater” in the Algonquian language (a Native American tribe). [Side note: What an odd language we have! The plural of goose is geese. So why aren’t a pair of moose called meese? For that matter if the plurals of mouse and louse are mice and lice, shouldn’t more than one spouse be spice?]
The quest for vegan vittles takes moose underwater to forage on aquatic plants, which are particularly attractive because of the high sodium content of water plants. Moose prize these salty treats so much that they have been known to dive underwater as deep as 18 feet for a snack. These excellent swimmers can also run up to 35 miles per hour.
A calf will stay with a cow, mother moose, for a year until the next newborn comes along. Then a calf must fend for itself. The cow in the video is preparing her offspring for the harsh winter. With mother moose’s protection, guidance and good fortune, the calf should be ready for independence come next spring. As I eavesdropped on this mother/child breakfast, the mountain photo no longer seemed quite so important.