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Welcome to the World Little One: A Bumbling Baby Bison is Born

“What’s your favorite season in the park?”

This is perhaps the most common question asked of any longtime, local Yellowstone resident. The answers vary, of course, but it would be difficult to find anyone who didn’t include spring. So, what makes spring such a joyous time of year?

Springtime in Yellowstone is the season of renewal and rebirth. As the snow begins to melt in earnest and the land awakens from its winter slumber, the park is filled with new life and the promise of a fresh start—which means, of course, baby animals! Without a doubt—for me, after witnessing this on tour with guests last May—one of the most poignant springtime scenes, one of the events that makes spring such a joyous time of year, is witnessing the birth of a bison calf.


Yellowstone’s bison are an unmistakable symbol of the American West, emblematic of sustaining life for the landscape and the humans living within it throughout history. These wild animals roam freely throughout the year: across the park’s valleys and meadows, along winding river corridors, among trees in high-elevation forests. All the while they stoically embody the spirit of survival, perseverance, and community.

As late winter transitions into spring, and the first green grasses begin to poke through the thawing soil, small herds of primarily female bison and their older offspring prepare for the arrival of their group’s newest members. Bison cows typically give birth in late April through May. Witnessing the entirety of bison birth is a rare and incredibly powerful experience that remains forever etched in the hearts and minds of those who observe it.

The cow may find a secluded spot away from the herd or remain within the protection and support of a few “midwives” to seek safety and tranquility for the birth. As labor begins, the cow displays obvious (and relatable) signs of discomfort and restlessness, pacing back and forth, lying down, rising again frequently, and breathing heavily. Fortunately for her the birth itself is usually quick, lasting between 30 to 60 minutes.


Once the calf is born the cow immediately begins caring for her new offspring. She nuzzles and licks the calf to clean it and stimulate its circulation. Within just a few minutes (13 minutes from time of birth in this case) the calf attempts to stand, wobbling on its unsteady legs. The cow encourages the calf, nudging it gently as it struggles to find its footing. Soon, the calf takes its first steps—a monumental achievement that marks the beginning of its life in the wild.


The bond between a bison cow and her calf is strong and enduring, beginning the moment she starts cleaning the newborn. As the calf attempts to standing it rubs against its mother, perhaps establishing its scent to ensure they are able to reunite if separated. From this point forward the cow (and her herd) protects the calf fiercely, keeping it close and guiding it as it learns to navigate the world. The calf relies on its mother for nourishment, nursing frequently in the early weeks of life.

As summer progresses the calf transitions into the lovely chocolate-brown color of its herd and, within a couple of months, relies primarily on grazing grasses, forbs, and other vegetation for sustenance. Occasional nursing continues into the winter, however, for supplemental food and nutrition as well as the simple comfort it brings the little one when scared and needing reassurance from its mom.


Spring in Yellowstone is a time of hope and beauty, and the birth of a bison calf is a celebration of the park’s vibrant ecosystem. It’s a moment that captures the essence of this wild and untamed landscape, where life persists and thrives in the face of complex challenges and change. Because of this, we would list springtime among our favorite seasons as guides and as a company. To view a one-minute compiled video of the bison birth please click here.

Welcome to the world, little one, and a safe journey to you as you find your footing in the wilds of Yellowstone!


Yellowstone Wild General Manager Tyrene R is the author of this blog post.

To learn more about Tyrene and the rest of the Yellowstone Wild team visit our “About Us” webpage.


From $4500

We’re excited to be offering two immersive Yellowstone Photography Workshops for Winter 2025. Each workshop will focus on encouraging all levels of photographers to hone their visual storytelling skills through one-on-one instruction with a local professional photographer.

2025 Workshop Dates and Instructor

Workshop 1:   9-Days: 1/5/2025 – 1/13/2025 ~ Led by local photographer Evan Watts 

Workshop 2:   7-Days: 2/9/2025 – 2/15/2025 – Led by local photographer Rob Harwood