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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bear Den in Photos: November - December

Continuing the bear den saga that I began last Wednesday, the bear den was quiet throughout the late summer and fall. No bears visited in October, contrary to my expectations. Then, in November (much later than expected), bears started checking out the den for their winter snooze.
He went inside the den for more than a minute.
Note the resemblance between the next bear (11/23), the previous bear (11/16), and the yearling cubs (see last Wednesday's post) from last winter.
He went inside for more than a minute. A nicely raked pile of debris had been fashioned into a bed inside the den.
Something inside the den made this bear decide to depart for another, unknown, den.

Then, to my utter surprise, a bear checked out the den in December. I expected that all the bears were snug in dens by then. This bear was an odd-looking one that has a mane-like fur pattern.
He went inside for a minute and a half.
This last bear reminds of the bear "with a mane" who walked Black Bear Trail on 7/6/10. He decided against hibernating in the den.

A month ago, the den was empty with a bed of leaves and other forest duff nicely built inside it.
My camera is still monitoring events at the den. My guess is that it's still empty. It seems too late for a bear to take up residence there unless something unexpected forces a local bear to evacuate its chosen den. It's probably best that the den is empty because I observed that the bears in the den last winter had mange, manifested as fur loss around their eyes and snouts. By leaving the den empty this winter, I'm guessing that the last mites will die, making it a healthier den for bears in the future.

Today, I was in the city for the afternoon. I was amazed that no one hurrying past me on the sidewalk seemed to notice the stupendous sunset. It brightened up my evening.


  1. We agree, love the Mr. T look! I thought bears were all hiberated in by Nov or Dec. So when do they really nestle in?

    Beautiful sky!! Seems like we haven't seen the sun in months.

  2. Great bear pictures!

    Is it normal for so many different bears to check out a den and then not stay?

  3. Of course you'd have cool punk bears in your neighborhood! It's funny that the two bears who looked at the den this year vacated it so quickly. Maybe they were hoping for free cable.

    I love that sunset picture! By the time I get home from work, the sunset is over. And go figure, we go out hiking and never see a sign of wildlife, but tonight I get home and there's an owl in the old robin nest under the kitchen awning! lol She was nice enough to let me catch a couple of pictures before she flew off for the night.

  4. I think that last bear secretly wants to be a punk rocker.

    Wow, those sunsets are beautiful!

    Your pal, Pip

  5. In the rush of life, many has forgotten to slow down and appreciate the beauty of nature.

    & I love the mohawk on the bear!


  6. Are you having a milder winter than last year ? Maybe imagination but there seems to be less snow in the photos and now, in January, there are bears still wandering around .

  7. First the lions, then the bears...

    Thanks so much for the link to the info about mountain lions! It was most interesting. Surprising that the pace of wear on the teeth seems to accelerate as they age; would have expected a more constant wear pattern. Now to find out if African lions have similar breeding and aging patterns; never really thought about it. Wonder if the blood drops you found indicate a run-in injury with the elk herd you've been seeing; the drops seemed like they must have come from higher up on the mountain lion, not from a pad injury. Assume that, like house cats, female mountain lions do not bleed while they are in season. If it is a female, might she have lost kittens in the recent freezing weather and come into season again?

    Incredible how bears can sense there is something "off" about a den and reject it. Maybe the mites give off some kind of smell that infests the leaf litter in the den? Hope Mohawk and the others finally found a place to rest their weary butts.

    Glad to read K had a good check up at the vet's and continues to get stronger every day.

    Jed & Abby

  8. Him has a mohawk...hehehe! I don't think I has evers seen dat.
    Do you think da bears didn't use dat den cuz they knew da mites were theres?
    What a gorgeous sunset! Sometimes ya just need to stop fur a minute and appreciate da things we take fur granted so often.


  9. Hi KB, Amazing photos - as always.
    "In the city" - for a year check? I believe it was that date we started crossing fingers and all for you last year. Stay healthy and warm. Love EM

  10. That "mane" is weird. Never seen any quite like it.

  11. That bear with the mane is very cool looking. Interesting that none of them picked the den to hibernate in. I bet you're right about the mites, etc.

    I have noticed that so many people get caught up in the day to day rush that they don't take the time to slow down and appreciate things. It's a pity because we'll only see each little wonder once, then it's gone forever and we've missed our chance.

  12. I love that bear with the mohawk! My dad has one sometimes in the summer and I think it's so very cool! I love that picture of the sunset... How often people take those beautiful things for granted.

  13. Gotta love that mohawk:) What an amazing sunset - too many "city" folk just don't take the time to enjoy the world around them.

  14. I didn't realize bears get mohawks!


  15. I loved the 'cool look' of the bear! Now you can recognize him if he returns at another time.

    I've often wondered too if people are noticing a sunset or rainbow when I see them--People are really in such a rush, aren't they?

  16. What an interesting coat on that bear. I hope he (or she) found a nice, cozy place for a winter's nap. The sunset is spectacular! Wow!!

  17. I'll try to answer the great questions asked - but, in most cases, the answer is "I don't know". The reason is that I cannot find any other accounts of someone monitoring a known den site that's obviously been used over many many years.

    First, I was very surprised by how late the bears waited before searching for dens. I expected them to start hibernating in October or maybe November. I was shocked to see a bear check out the den in December. As Angus pointed out, we are having a less harsh winter than last year - so perhaps that's part of the reason why the bears were awake so late.

    I don't know if it's normal for so multiple bears to check out one den site. If you include all the visitors since last April, many bears examined this den.

    It is conceivable that the bears could perceive the mites, and that's why they rejected the den. It's also possible that bears generally don't want to use a den for 2 consecutive winters because of the potential for parasites. Perhaps the visiting bears could smell that the den had been used last winter.

    As for the drops of blood in the lion's tracks that Jed and Abby asked about - they did seem to come from higher up on the body than a paw pad. I have absolutely no idea if lions bleed when in estrus. I just did some cursory research and came up with no info. So, I don't know!

    Thanks to all of you for your comments. If any of you know the answers to my many "I don't know" questions - please let me know!

    And, thank you EM, for your wonderful memory of the anniversary. I was truly touched that you remembered.

  18. I cannot imagine someone not stopping in thier tracks to see the sunset. It seems we live for those special touches from mother earth,,, and then we stop in awe.
    Its sad that some are in such a hurry that they do not see it.
    It took awhile for all the bear photos to load,,, and ohhh was it ever worth it!
    Thank you ,, thank you.
    Our deer have some kind of mite disease,,, and it is wasting away their bodys,,, it looks like mange,,, i guess there is just no place for the deer to go,, they cannot vacate like the deer do, because of mites,,,, very smart bears I say

  19. And the sunset was splendorious!

  20. that is an amazing sunset and so fun to see those bears. I love the hair do on the last one!

  21. The bears possibly sniffing out mites in the den would be supported by their outrageous sense of smell. Does the bear in the last pic always look this way (if you've seen him prior) or maybe this was pyloerection (when dogs raise their hackles in excitement/fear)?
    I think it's exciting that you're doing this over time observation. Maybe your info could help support some research?! That would be exciting - even if it's just or this crew online ;)


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