Alaskan Brown Bears, Part II — Sows And Boars

You may enlarge any image in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full screen image.

We encountered several adults during our four-day photoshoot.  Adult male bears are called “boars” and adult females are called “sows.”  The basis for this terminology, which uses the same appellations as applies to pigs, is utterly beyond me.

The differences between male and female Brown Bears are instantly apparent.  For one thing, the males are much larger than the females.  An adult male often exceeds 700 pounds whereas a female may weigh from about one-half to two-thirds that amount.  The males are invariably solitary.  And, they are often are heavily scarred as the result of fights with other males or hostile encounters with unreceptive females.

This boar, which we were to see more than once, is a giant compared to the other bears that we encountered.  My first reaction upon seeing him was that he resembled a fur-covered SUV.  His enormous head and shoulders instantly distinguish him from female bears.

Sows, of course, aren’t exactly delicate flowers.

But, nonetheless,  they appear positively petit when compared with the big males.  That’s all relative, of course.  The sow depicted in the second and third images almost certainly weighs over 400 pounds.

The sows that we saw had more attractive coats than had the males and definitely appeared to be plumper relative to their overall size.  Boars lead a tough life, punctuated by battles.  Their existence is more nomadic than that of the sows.  Their primary role is to breed with females and there is fierce competition among the boars for that opportunity.  Females will reject a boar’s advances if they aren’t ready, and rejection can be violent.  The boar pictured below shows the many battle scars that he has picked up along the way.

This sow, by contrast, is unmarked.

And, unlike the boars, this last sow seemingly had time for reflection.

The sows that we observed invariably were accompanied by their cubs.  Tomorrow, I’ll post some images of mothers with their cubs and discuss these bears’ maternal lives.

Images made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens, aperture priority setting.  First image, ISO 1000, f10 @ 1/250.  Second image, ISO 1250, f7.1 @ 1/250.  Third image, ISO 400, f8 @ 1/400.  Fourth image, ISO 400, f7.1 @ 1/320.  Fifth image, ISO 500, f7.1 @ 1/640.  Final image, ISO 640, f5.6 @ 1/800.



6 responses to “Alaskan Brown Bears, Part II — Sows And Boars”

  1. Linda says :

    Wow, I hope that was telephoto. Amazing size, I had no idea

  2. David F. Dean says :

    This is fantastic, Steve!

  3. Sue says :

    The last picture is magic!

  4. tkiiatmindspringcom says :

    Great shots all!

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