Once again we decided to go back to Finland to photograph Eurasian brown bears in the east of Finland, close to the Russian border. We had a descent amount of success but as always, we wanted a little better light, a bit better background, more action and etc. Nevertheless, a week in July and a week in August gave us some time to work with the subject.
Female brown bear gives birth while hibernating. Baby brown bears are born blind, toothless, and hairless; weigh less than 1 pound at birth. The average litter has two cubs. They feed on their mother’s milk until spring or early summer depending on weather conditions. Cubs follow their mum and stay close to her.
In summer cubs are strong enough to follow mom and begin to forage for solid food.
Cubs copy their mother’s methods for locating food. Bears like grass, leaves, nuts, seeds, fruits, bulbs; they will also snack on beetles, worms, ants, and other insects. As we have noticed, they really enjoyed a blueberry snack in the sunshine and warm weather. Cubs gather berries quickly, using lips and swallowing them whole.
When the environment is safe with no male bears around, there is plenty of action from fluffy cubs. They are very active, play for long periods wrestling or chasing each other. We had to take many images just to produce some sharp ones because of the challenging light in the woods. It was a bit of a struggle but it was well worth it.
Bear cubs enjoy chewing a variety of objects that they find or pull some funny faces when they are bored. Furry siblings might play constantly nevertheless they remain vigilant all the time.
When alpha male is approaching the area, a tension can be sensed in the behaviour of mother and cubs. Adult male bears are particularly aggressive and are avoided not only by mothers with cubs but also by sub adult males.
Females with cubs sometimes try to approach the aggressive bear male and successfully defend cubs, even though the male may be twice as heavy as she. Sometimes, it is wiser to climb a tree for safety (this behaviour we have photographed a year before)
.... or just to leave the open area for some time. Brown bears grow rapidly but they remain with mother from two to three years. During that time they will learn survival techniques such as which foods have the highest nutritional values and where to attain them, how to hunt, how to defend themselves and where to den.