1. Grandpa what big horns you have
I’ll never forget the first time I came across a giant moose – I was maybe 10 or 11, canoeing with my dad in the shallows of Moosewood Lake in Maine (does the name give it away?). We were paddling through the lilies around a blind bend in maybe waste deep water at most, and out of nowhere I was face to face with the biggest, scariest creature I had ever seen. In fact I’m pretty sure that his antlers alone were bigger than our canoe! Fortunately I was frozen beyond panic as dad slowly paddled us backwards while the moose simply stared back at me curiosity with its long, funny face (funny in hindsight around the campfire that night).
The largest of the deer family, the chocolate brown moose is indeed impressive to witness, particularly with their huge antlers, which can reach 6 feet (1.8 meters) from end to end, and standing at a height of 5 to 6.5 feet tall – at their shoulders! And they can be aggressive if you get too close, while being able to run up to 35 miles an hour, so don’t’ try to out run one. However, they don’t have the best sight so if you ever do find yourself in a bit of a mad moose predicament, you’re better off ducking behind trees, though we recommend that you generally avoid getting too close in general if you are lucky enough to be in its presence.
Some of the best places to spot a majestic moose are in Alaska, Maine and on wildlife tours to the Grand Tetons / Yellowstone national parks.
2. Sea Canary
The Arctic is dark, still and frozen throughout most of the year, but during a short burst of summer the land – and the sea – explodes with color and life. And it is during this time when the Beluga Whale, also known as the white whale (Beluga means “white one” in Russian), returns to its summer feeding grounds. Interestingly, the beluga is also known as the sea canary due to its songlike chatter, which can actually be heard above the water’s surface. It is also sometimes referred to as the squid sea hound because of its diet.
See this amazing sea creature in the thousands, along with other incredible arctic and subarctic wildlife on the edge of Hudson Bay in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.
3. Don’t call me a Buff!
Did you know the name “buffalo” is most likely a misnomer, the result of when early European settlers in North America confused the bison with its African Buffalo or Asian Water Buffalo cousins?
The great North American bison is the symbol of the historic Wild West and the final frontier. Once ranging across the Great Plains in herds that numbered in the millions, it was also the staple of the Native American plains Indians. The bison, originally estimated at 20 to 30 million animals was brought to the brink of extinction during the western expansion due to hunting and habitat loss, to the point where there were just over 1000 individuals left in 1889. Due to conservation efforts there are now up to a half million mixed cattle-bison and pure wild bison alive today.
The best place to see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat is in Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas.
4. Why bald?
There is a reason the Bald Eagle is our national bird: it is a symbol of beauty, independence and freedom that is an inspirational sight to behold in person. Although bald eagles range across much of North America, from Alaska and Canada to northern Mexico, about half of the world’s 70,000 bald eagles are found in Alaska and most of the rest in British Columbia. With expansive relatively intact forests and healthy rivers that support populations of spawning salmon, the Northwest is the bald eagles main stay.
Interestingly, the word ‘bald’ use to mean white, not hairless. I guess that means that technically I’m mostly bald now with a head of nearly white hair, so that’s something in common!
5. Woof woof.
Ok maybe not – the North American Grey Wolf has much more of a spine-tingling howl (and growl), but in reality it is a highly socialized, family loving pack animal. Once widespread throughout North America, Europe and beyond, the grey wolf now exists only in parts of North America, the USSR and Eastern Europe, where it continues to retain its legendary and mythological status among the animal kingdom.