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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tiny - a black bear

It's a glorious autumn day here in the Rockies. K and I enjoyed the start of it together, visiting our favorite lookout and having a quiet moment enjoying the view.

There were no more bear visits to my cams after the one whose photo I showed you yesterday. On the last occasion that this bear, who I'll call "Tiny", walked past my cams, Socks (the yearling) and another bear trailed not too far behind. I wanted to see if that same pattern would occur this time, for I suspect that Tiny is Socks' mother. However, that's just a guess based on past photos and patterns of behavior.

Many of you guessed correctly that Tiny was marking the tree holding my trail camera in the photo yesterday. It was not a bear-marking tree (or "whammy" tree) prior to this occasion. I suspect that Tiny smelled my scent all over the area and was establishing that it was *her* territory and not mine by rubbing her scent over the spot where my scent was very strong.

Tiny arrived at my first camera and commenced sniffing the area.
Then, I captured a number of photos of Tiny's back with her fur covering half the lens. During that phase, I'm pretty sure that she was up on her hind legs and rubbing her back against the tree that my camera was lashed to (you can see this phase in the video at the bottom of the post). Just before she stopped marking, we caught a glimpse of her face.
After marking the tree, Tiny showed us her rump as she walked away. Her fur was wet from raindrops clinging to shrubs and plants that hadn't seen the sunshine since our big rain storms.
She sniffed the area some more. I think that you're starting to realize that the name "Tiny" is a bit of a joke.
Finally, this big and beautiful bear walked away, following the same path as I'd followed hours before her.
Soon, she arrived at another of my trail cameras. This is a serious "hot spot" for bears so I have it heavily staked out. All the aspen trees in the area have "bear art" on them - huge claw marks that have turned black over the years.

When she arrived at my next camera, she acted like a sneaky human who wasn't sure that she wanted her photo taken. The cam caught a quick glimpse of her black fur in the far left of the photo below. Then, she paused behind the camera for a long time before moving in front of it. I suspect that she was sniffing the area where I kneel to check the cam.
Finally, she showed her head as she moved in front of the camera.
What a gorgeous bear she is! She is so fat and ready to sleep away the winter. Perhaps she'll give birth to cubs this winter!
 She showed us a muddy hind paw pad as she lumbered into the green forest.
For a size comparison, here's a photo of me taken by the same cam in the same position. I weigh about 110 lbs, and my wheels are 26" diameter. How much do you think that Tiny weighs?
If, indeed, Tiny is a pregnant sow, then we won't be seeing her out and about for much longer. Pregnant sows retreat to their dens much earlier than other bears, especially when they already have huge stores of fat like Tiny does. Wouldn't it be amazing if she chose the den where I have a camera monitoring the entrance? I'd love it.

I compiled all the photos of this bear's excursion into a flipbook video that you can watch here or at Youtube.

Please leave your guesses about her weight in the comments. I don't want to exaggerate her size so I'm interested to hear how big others think that she is. Thanks!


  1. I was just thinking while looking at Tiny's pics that Tiny isn't exactly tiny :). lol! I'm terrible at guessing a bear's weight but she looks pretty big to me.

  2. what kind of a woman shows a female's big butt on the internet and then asks people to guess her weight? :-)

    Honey, does this fur make me look fat?


  3. Ha ha ha! Um, I'm going to guess around 250-275 pounds. I'm not a great weight guestimator, but that's my stab in the dark.

    I love those pictures of you and K at the beginning! You two look so happy to be together! :)

  4. I wouldn't even dare to guess, what a wonderful sight. I hope you are not in danger at any point, now that she knows your scent.

    be careful and don't worry about pictures, I can work with the ones you sent already.

    Bert's My Vickie

  5. Hmmm under 300 lbs? This week I started bike riding to class. From where I live in College Station it is about 3 miles to get to campus. It probably doesn't sound like much but it almost killed me! The strange thing is that I wasn't sore at all! Except my bum from the bike seat but not from the exercise. Out of curiousity how far do you bike at a time?

  6. BOL, Tiny!! We're going to guess she's at least twice your weight, but probably closer to 250.

  7. She is beautiful! I am going to have to guess she may weigh about 250lbs.

  8. greta pictures of you and K. That is one big bear
    Benny & Lily

  9. OMG that would be so awesome if she chose your den!!!! Is it wrong that I want to take my "furminator" brush to her coat? I just want to get some of those muddy mats out. I know I know, leave her alone!

  10. That is so cool. Your pictures really make me wonder about the animals that might frequent our trails. Thanks for your nice comments. I hope Zephyr has a similar outcome as your Astro.

  11. A woman doesn't tell her weight, right? Or is that her age? LOL. We will guess 350.

    Beautiful shot of you and K.

  12. I'm guessing LARGE. Quite LARGE.

  13. I think she is really packed and am going to guess 315 lbs. How will you estimate who is close and who isn't?

    If she is carrying two cubs, what would you guess their weight to be? Are they born super tiny like Pandas or are they born good sized.

    Jo and Stella

  14. Hi Stella!

    I honestly don't know how much she weighs but I was going to guess around 250 lbs.

    If she's "pregnant", that means that she has little clusters of divided eggs inside her. They are not at all like fetuses yet. They will implant in the uterus wall and start to develop *only* if she's fat and healthy when she's in the den. The cubs would be born in January and would be less than a pound at birth.

    So, the reason why a sow needs to be very fat at the start of hibernation is so that she's ready to nurse her 1-3 cubs. They grow to about 3-5 lbs by March and 12-20 lbs by May.

    If you haven't done so, read the comment by "anonymous". It made me laugh out loud!

  15. I think she weghts 270 pounds.
    All the bears are so beautiful,and I would be so excited if I was seeing all these bears that you see and film
    Thank you for sharing this wonder with us.
    I wonder if she will have triplets?

  16. Thanks for cuing me in to go back and read Tiny's comment. That was indeed hilarious, and I can't believe I missed it! I can't stop laughing!

    Magnificent photos! I hope she does park in your special den for the winter so we can see the new life unfold!


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