My mind has often wandered right past winter and straight to spring over the last couple of months. The unusually warm temperatures have encouraged me to spend more time outdoors where it’s easy to notice animal activity and early signs of spring.
I hiked to Hell’s Hollow Falls at McConnells Mill State Park in western Pennsylvania over the weekend and noticed a number of squirrel dreys, situated in the canopy above. Then, I started thinking about the unique layered construction of squirrel nests and the mothers-to-be warm and cozy inside.
Squirrels remain active during most of the winter, especially during mating season from December through February. They’re also one of the first animals to reproduce in the spring, having their first litter as early as the end of February, depending on the species. Their litters range in size from two to four babies, who won’t set out on their own until they are about 10 weeks old.
Squirrel babies, called kits or kittens, are the first we’ll see this spring, venturing out on branches close to their dreys. However, they’re far from the last.
Fish will gather around the shorelines of inland lakes and ponds to spawn starting with the earliest in February (pike) and the latest into July (flathead and channel catfish). Migratory birds will return to mate and raise young in April and May. Tadpoles will fill creeks and vernal pools from March to July. Reptiles will emerge from their burrows to mate and lay eggs from April into fall. Mammal babies born earlier in the spring can be spotted more easily and frequently in May and June.
Thinking about the season of birth and growth, got me wondering what Ohio’s baby animals are called and when to expect them. Find out in the list below.
When to expect and what to call Ohio’s baby animals
- Ants – antlings are born during the spring and into the summer.
- Badger – badger babies are called kits or cubs. They are born from mid-January to April, with a majority being born in March and April.
- Bat – pups are born from May to mid-July.
- Bear – black bear cubs are born in mid-January, but will not leave their dens with their mothers until they are about three months old.
- Beaver – beaver babies are called kits, kittens and pups. They are born between April and July.
- Birds – most hatchlings hatch from March to late summer.
- Bobcat – bobkittens are born from February to July.
- Butterflies – caterpillars hatch from mid-summer to early fall.
- Chipmunk – pups are born from March to May and July to September.
- Coyote – coyote babies are called cubs, pups, puppies and whelps. Litters are born in April and May and can contain anywhere from 1-12 pups.
- Crane – sandhill crane babies are called chicks or colts. They hatch in May and June.
- Deer – fawns are born from mid-May through July.
- Dove – mourning dove babies are called squabs or squeakers. They hatch from March into summer.
- Duck – ducklings hatch from mid-April to June, depending on the species.
- Eagle – eaglets hatch in March and April.
- Falcons – eyas hatch from April through June.
- Fish – fish spawn from February to July. Fry emerge from eggs within weeks of being fertilized.
- Fox – fox babies are called pups, cubs and kits. Grey fox kits are born in April and May, and red fox kits are born from February through April.
- Frog – tadpoles hatch from March to July.
- Goose – Canada goose goslings hatch in April and May.
- Groundhog – kits are born from April through early June.
- Gulls – chicks hatch from May through September.
- Hawks – eyas hatch from May to August.
- Herons – chicks hatch from March to July, depending on the species, with a majority hatching in April and May.
- Hummingbird – hummingbird babies are called nestlings, hatchlings or chicks. Peak breeding occurs in June and July and chicks hatch in the same months as they have a short incubation period of only 14-16 days.
- Kestrel – chicks hatch in late April and early May.
- Lizards – eggs are laid from March through August and hatchlings emerge 4 to 10 weeks later.
- Mice – pups are born sometime between March and November, depending on the species.
- Mink – mink babies are called kits and cubs. They are born from February through June.
- Mole – pups are born between April and June.
- Moths – caterpillars hatch from mid-summer to early fall.
- Muskrat – kits are born throughout the year as muskrats can have up to five litters.
- Opossum – joeys are typically born in March and April, but can be born from February to November.
- Osprey – chicks hatch from January to May in non-migratory pairs and May to July for migratory pairs.
- Otter – otter babies are called pups or kittens. They are born in early spring, but won’t emerge from their dens until they are two months old.
- Owl – owlets hatch from March through July with the exception of barn owls that may reproduce during other times of the year.
- Pheasant – ring-necked pheasant chicks hatch from May through September with peak hatching occurring in late June.
- Rabbit – kittens are born from March to late September, but the majority are born in May and June.
- Raccoon – kits are born from April through early June.
- Rat – pups are born year-round, depending on the species.
- Ruffed grouse – chicks hatch in April and May with peak hatching occurring in late May.
- Salamander – eggs are laid in temporary vernal pools during early spring so the larvae hatch and develop fully by the time they dry up in middle to late summer.
- Shrew – shrewlets are born from March to December, depending on the species.
- Skunk – kits are born from May to June.
- Snake – snakelets are born or hatched from mid-summer to fall.
- Snowshoe hare – leverets are born from April to October.
- Spiders – the mating season for many species of spiders is during the fall and spiderlings hatch in the spring.
- Squirrel – kits or kittens are born between February and November, depending on the species.
- Swan – cygnets hatch in June.
- Toad – tadpoles hatch in April and May.
- Turtle – hatchlings can potentially emerge year-round as many species of Ohio turtles have long mating seasons and their eggs have long gestation periods. For example, the snapping turtle’s breeding period stretches from April to November and the gestation period of its eggs is about 18 weeks.
- Turkey – poults hatch from mid-May to June.
- Vulture – turkey vulture chicks hatch from April to August.
- Weasel – weasel babies are called kits or pups. They are born from spring through late summer with most pups being born in April or May; however, some species such as the least weasel may reproduce during any month of the year.
- Woodpecker – chicks hatch sometime between January and August, depending on the species.
Agricultural and domestic animals
- Alpaca – cria.
- Bee – larva.
- Cat – kitten.
- Chicken – chick.
- Cow – calf.
- Dog – puppy.
- Donkey – foal.
- Duck – duckling.
- Goat – kid.
- Goose – gosling.
- Horse – foal.
- Llama – cria.
- Pig – piglet.
- Rabbit – kitten.
- Sheep – lamb.
- Turkey – poult.
- How to spot the signs of spring in Ohio and Pennsylvania
- How to plan fishing trips around spawning seasons
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