Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bear vs. Bird Feeders

When we returned home from town on the afternoon of Sunday, July 2, I noticed a problem with our bird feeders. What was the problem? They were missing! Plus, the shepherd's hook that one of them had been hanging on was bent backward. Considering how securely the other 2 bird feeders had been attached to the tree, we were immediately able to deduce that a bear had visited us. The feeders were all in place when we left that morning, so we had a feeling we may have disturbed the bear when we arrived home. If so, we knew he would be back. Better charge the battery in the camera!

I began to put away the groceries while Mr. Cut Off was changing out of his church clothes. Suddenly, I heard Mr. Cut Off yell (very loudly and excitedly), "He's back! Get the camera!" I was so startled that I almost dropped the bananas! I certainly never expected the bear to return that quickly! Oh, foo! The camera was in the great room; the battery was charging in an outlet in the kitchen. I grabbed the battery and the camera and rushed to the bedroom. Foo again! Just missed him. He had also heard Mr. Cut Off yell. (I said it was loud.) Mr. Cut Off told me what I had missed. The bear had wandered back out of the woods to check for more birdseed on the ground. That's when Mr. Cut Off spotted him. When he yelled, the bear stood up on his hind legs in an attempt to determine the source of that loud noise he had just heard. He probably spotted Mr. Cut Off moving about through the bedroom window and made a hasty retreat into the woods. That's when I arrived in the room. 

Was the bear gone for good? We didn't think so. I returned to the kitchen to work on dinner - keeping the camera within reach at all times. Mr. Cut Off joined me a bit later to help cut up the avocado and egg for his salad. This is when all the glass on the back side of our house comes in real handy. I glanced up as I was setting the table and thought I saw a shadow over where the bear had been. Uh, that was no shadow. It's the bear! So exciting! I grabbed the camera and we ran back to the bedroom for a closer look. I started snapping pictures, but the bear didn't seem to mind.

Yeah, he was looking at me. Or is it a she? Beats me! All the windows were closed (if you're wondering).

I guess he decided I wasn't a threat, so he moved along - pawing at the ground to get every last bit of birdseed he could find.

He got up on his hind legs and checked out 2 of the birdhouses mounted on the trees. Unfortunately, I was fiddling with the video setting on the camera at the time and missed those shots. The birdseed must have made him thirsty, as he then stopped to get a drink out of the birdbath.

We have another birdhouse mounted on a post halfway across the backyard, and he wandered over to check that one out next. The sun was causing such a glare through the sliding doors in the great room that those photos didn't turn out. Oh well. He then started back toward the birdbath and I got some decent video of him checking out the last birdhouse we have mounted on a tree. Click on the following link to watch him in action:

Bear 7-2-17

Mr. Cut Off went out later to survey the damage and found the feeders in the woods in back of the rocks. The bear had completely destroyed the 3 tube feeders, but he left the finch sock feeder alone. Since moving out here, Mr. Cut Off has perfected his bird feeder repair skills, but these were way, way, way beyond repair. He picked up some new feeders the next day but was careful to bring them in at night. All was fine for a week until he accidentally (that's what he tells me) left one of them out one night. Yup, it was missing the next morning. Mr. Cut Off did find it, though, and was able to salvage it. The current plan of action is to leave the bird feeders down for a couple of weeks. The berries in the woods should ripen by then, so the bear should have more to eat without bothering us.

If you're keeping track, that's:
Bear - 3
Bird Feeders - 1
Birdseed - 0

All is well in the Keweenaw.

6 comments:

  1. Hi Julie, love your bear pics and commentary. We have lots of black bear & deer in the mountains of NC. Unfortunately, they can & do sometimes jump through glass windows! Yikes! After a bear broke in the bottom half of our storm door & tried to break into our bear-proof garbage cans, we contacted the wild life people. They said that we could spray some Pine Sol over our garbage cans, and around the perimeter of the house. Bears & other animals hate the smell of Pine Sol. We replaced our broken storm door with a steel "bear proof" security door. The deer come down from the higher mountains behind our house & have a 'trail' right beside our house. They're coming down to drink water at the creek at the foot of the mountain. To be on the safe side, my husband had decorative metal scroll work installed over the French doors & patio doors. It swings out easily if we need to go out those doors, but it's guaranteed to keep the deer & bear out in nature where they belong. Do you have any mountain lions on the Keweenaw? God bless & have a great summer.

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    1. Yes, we do have occasional mountain lion (cougar) sightings in the Keweenaw. I haven't had any personal experiences with them yet. The deer tend to travel across the edge of our yard - parallel to the length of our house. The Pine Sol trick is good to know. We don't keep our garbage in the garage. It's in the basement or in the barn, and we've moved our BBQ grill inside the garage now. We've been lucky so far in that none of the wildlife seem too interested in investigating the house. None of our windows sit close to the ground because of our high foundation - due to our snow totals in this area. We're waiting until next summer to put the deck on the back of our house, so the patio doors are still very high. Of course, bears can climb, so I don't leave any pies cooling on the window sill!

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  2. Enjoy these beautiful guys! We love seeing them here in northern WI. Once the feeders are gone a while, they'll definitely look elsewhere. It's less likely they will try to break in up in our area because there is abundant natural food. The ones further south are more aggressive because there just isn't as much to eat. By the way, the bear in the last photo looks like he is leaving you a "tip" (pile of poop) - that's the only time you see the little flap tail come up!

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    1. You made me laugh, Debra. He may have been thinking about leaving us a "tip," but he didn't! We never had a bear bother us in mid-summer before. We've had a very cool summer, and the berries in our neck of the woods aren't ripening yet.

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  3. I wondered if the bears were a problem with your feeders. I've heard people talking in stores when I've been up in the UP about bears vs feeders. Do you have problems every year?

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    1. We had one eating our birdseed in May of 2015 shortly after we moved in. There have also been times when we suspected a bear had gotten our feeders, but we didn't catch one in the act. This particular bear came back this afternoon - about 2 hours ago. I'll share that story and photos on the blog on Saturday or Monday.

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