Black Bear Signals End of Bird Feeding Season

Jed meets Bear

When we came home from vacation on Sunday, to our delight, spring had fully sprung. Missing crocus season entirely, we stepped off the plane straight into full blooming daffodils. Willows leafed out in tender green waves. Red maples reached out their tiny leaves in search of the sun’s warmth. And our resident bear came out of hibernation before we emptied the last inch of winter bird seed from the storage can.

Bear MessageWe had a heads up from the house sitter, mind you, and we would have emptied the last of the seed upon coming home had I not been plagued with a medical distraction. Having gained 12 pounds worth of edema in my legs, I was busy limping through 7 doctors’ consults, from ruling out blood clots to detecting what is likely a strange side effect of taking Celebrex. (Thank goodness it wasn’t the salt in the Margaritas! That, I couldn’t live with.)

Exhausted from it all, Tim and I hit the pillow early and hard by Wednesday. We craved a solid night’s sleep, but it was not to come.

At 11:00 PM, we were woken by something going thud in the night. Cats! we thought as we stumbled through the dark in search of what might have broken. I searched the back of the house. Tim took the front. And as he stepped onto the sun porch, a large, dark, moving shadow startled him.

“Kim … KIM!” he whispered with alarm. “It’s the BEAR!”

Tim’s hand instinctively reached for the video camera. After firing it up, he passed it to me so he could calm the dogs. The bear made two passes around the sunflower seed storage but was leery of the whining, pacing canines inside. Still, he or she settled in for a long snack.

The short film below features a 4 minute compilation of the bear’s 45 minute visit. Watch, at minute 1:09, as a brave little mouse races right past the bear’s face. It happens quickly, so keep your eyes peeled.

On Thursday, the bear returned to find the can emptied at the far side of the yard, lid off. This was our way of demonstrating that no reason exists to visit us again, not that it worked. Under the apple trees at dusk, the bear lay licking scattered seeds from the lawn, one at a time – until Tim scared him off with a blast of the car horn. Last night, the bear found the empty can now stored behind the far shed. We know because the lid was removed by morning.

Perhaps tonight, we will no longer be seen as serving free lunch.
One can only hope.

Have you taken your feeders down?


  1. Holy cow Kim! I cannot believe the wildlife you get there! I loved watching the bear munch on the seeds. That mouse was darn lucky!

    My bird feeders are up now. Just need to get more seed. Used it up late this winter. I have one in front of the bay window. I love watching them fly up and eat. Nick (my cat) loves watching them too. 🙂

    • I didn’t realize bears eat mice until I looked it up. It seems they eat a mostly vegetarian diet, yet sometimes scavenge on deer and other carcasses or they occasionally eat crayfish, frogs, birds’ eggs, mice, red squirrels, woodchucks, snowshoe hare, and other animal food. Lucky mouse, indeed!

      You and Nick enjoy the birds for me! Our yard is too quiet and still with the feeders washed and packed away.

  2. What a beautifully shot and edited video. So glad you were willing to give up your sleep to share it with us.

    I live downtown so our wildlife is limited to raccoons, skunks, deer, and Cornell frat members. 🙂

  3. I can’t believe how easily he used his claws to pop the lid off the can – that’s amazing. I’m also glad to see he was pretty skittish around the house, I’m sure the hunger is overwhelming when emerging from hibernation but hanging around people’s houses wouldn’t be a good idea. Hopefully the snack at your house was enough to tide him over until he could find a more appropriate food supply. Great video!

    • I heard, second hand, that a guy’s been bragging about shooting one, out of season no less. This bear would be far safer in the woods with yahoos like that around. Our plan is to encourage forest living once more, for the bear’s safety and ours.

  4. Moments like these are so incredible. Not that I’d really want a bear hanging around my property but I am still amazed at this video. We live in the city so the only wildlife we see are raccoons, ducks, and the odd muskrat in the backyard lake.

    Back in Alberta deer are more of a nuisance than anything and they have practically taken over every city park. But I don’t think I have seen a single one in Nova Scotia. I blame the dog. 😉

    Glad you enjoyed some Margaritas!

    • Dogs are great for keeping critters of all shapes and sizes away, aren’t they! A friend asked how we kept our dogs so calm while the bear was here. My answer? It’s easy. I edited out the sound. Truth be told, that bear absolutely knew our restless dogs were present, thus the constant watchful eye.

      Lucky you seeing a muskrat! I don’t know that I ever have. Although I never laid eyes on it, our neighbor had one tearing up the lawn around his pond – so he shot it. Sharing the planet with people who value lawn over life is an absolutely maddening challenge.

      And with that, I toast my Margarita to animal lovers everywhere!

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