May 03, 2005

Bird-feeder bear

Weather here in the southern Colorado foothills has been miserable--which is to say normal for late April-early May--alternating rain and snow, with the clouds right down on the treetops. Grass and some other plants are green and growing, and those normally make up the spring diet of black bears, but some times you encounter a specialist.

One morning late last week, I came out the front door to find one bird feeder on the ground. It was one of the house-shaped wooden ones that dispenses seeds. The twig that supported it was had not broken: a clue. I got out the Gorilla Glue and clamps to fix a couple of cracks in the lid.

The next day, I found tracks in the mud up behind the house: a smallish black bear.

Last night, returning from walking the dogs at 10:30 p.m., I found two more feeders on the ground, and fresh, post-rain bear tracks in the driveway. Oh joy, it's another "bird-feeder bear." He or she knows where the seed snacks are now. (No wonder one of the dogs started barking loudly at 9 p.m.; bears usually are on the prowl an hour after sunset.)

So now we have to go to Bird Feeder Condition Orange. The feeders (two for sunflower seeds, two for niger thistle seeds) will have to be taken into the garage each evening. What a nuisance. If past experience is a guide, however, after three or four weeks, the bear will stop coming by. And there should be more plant life by then too, and maybe an unlucky fawn to munch. (We keep our garbage can in the garage year-around, of course.)

M.'s reaction was simply, "Poor hungry bear!" And she's right. They are awake, hungry, and they don't yet have a lot to eat because this spring has been slow and cold.

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