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Bears and birdfeeders

Posted in A Writer's Desk

Southviewcabin1We have a family tradition, here at the cabin, of feeding the birds, in the wintertime and well into the spring. The main room downstairs, built into the hillside, houses the fireplace, kitchen, and all the comfortable chairs. From there we can gaze out through large windows at the birdfeeders, swaying gently on a pole, sheltered by the trees. You can see the red one in the picture, and we added another pole-hung feeder this year. Each pole holds the feeder about five feet from the ground.

The black bears also have a family tradition. Each year, in spring, while other food sources are still scarce and they haven't been awake very long, they drop by looking for a good hit of sunflower seeds and flint corn. And if the humans are in residence, they generally find it.

My father-in-law lived in the cabin for about ten years. Each year he would report on the annual raid. If you think squirrels at the bird feeders are a nuisance, you should try black bear. Sometimes they would bend the pole down so they could get at the feeder more easily.

Bird feederSo, this morning we glance out of the window, and the hanging feeder is not only down, it's demolished, disassembled into various parts. I laughed smugly at the news, secure in the knowledge that the other two feeders I put up this year (very like this picture), that were suspended from a beam extending out from the bottom of the second story porch in front of the cabin, were intact. Until I turned my head to check that assumption.

Those feeders were not only pulled down from their beam, and separated from their top components, they were missing altogether. Unless that bear had a buddy or a duffle bag, I don't see how it could have carried them both off.

Meanwhile, my desk looks out of that same window on the second floor that you can see in the top picture. I am surrounded by indignant cardinals, sparrows, nuthatches, finches, woodpeckers (suet was included), junkos, jays, and noisy chickadees, all looking for their breakfast and demanding a better level of service.

How do they do it? Perhaps you'll find this link illuminating…

I imagine it was something like this. The dogs slept through it all.

If you want to keep score, see Human vs Bear, part 2.


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