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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bear and Coyote

We had a lethargic black bear come visit our clearing a few nights ago, just after the big snow storm. This is the bear who I've dubbed "Tiny" in the past, based on his humongous stature. Based on the fact that he's not in hibernation yet, I'm assuming that Tiny is a male. Look at his size!
He arrived in our clearing, knocked over our bear-proof garbage cans, and then walked to the base of our bear-proof birdfeeding station. The pole in the photos is very tall with branches coming off the top that hold birdfeeders.

Tiny obviously remembered that he couldn't get to the birdfeeders. He did something that no bear has ever done before. He arrived under the feeders and lay down in the snow. He stayed for almost an hour, lackadaisically scratching at the snow and licking up a few fallen seeds.

Every now and then, Tiny would look up at the birdfeeders, perhaps wishing that he could crack the code to get to them.
He even grabbed the pole once, but as you'll see in the video embedded below, he quickly forgot that he was trying to get to the birdfeeders and started scratching himself instead. That's just one example of how lackadaisical he seemed during this visit.
You can sort of see that he's scratching his chin with his hind paw in this still photo.
By coincidence, I'd just received a new camera in the mail, and I had quickly tied it to the tree near the birdfeeders that afternoon. That's where I put any new camera that I'm "trying out" before I decide whether I want to keep it (my favorite trail camera shop,, has an awesome return policy if anyone doesn't like a camera).

For that reason, two cameras were taking photos and videos of Tiny during his long visit. Here's one from my new inexpensive camera.
Based on the video recorded by the new camera, I know that Tiny got scared away from the base of the birdfeeding station at least twice by a coyote that weighs a small fraction of Tiny's weight! You can barely see the coyote head in the far right of the photo below.
After each of his quick runaways, Tiny returned and postured in the direction of the coyote, walking with stiff legs in the coyote's direction.
After one of his runaways, he stared hard at the cams, perhaps getting tired of being photographed!
After Tiny finally departed around 12:20 AM, the coyote moved under the birdfeeders to make a statement.
Then, the coyote followed exactly in Tiny's tracks out of our clearing and through our forest. It was an amazing energy-saving strategy by the coyote because he didn't have to break his own trail through our fresh deep snow.

I suspect that the coyote wanted to see what food Tiny might unearth and leave unfinished. If, for example, Tiny had opened our garbage cans, there might have been some scraps left behind that the coyote could have eaten. My friend who used to have a chicken coop said that a bear would break in and eat the food that she'd given her chickens but would leave the chickens alive. The coyotes would follow behind and eat the chickens themselves. So, coyotes are smart, taking advantage of the brawn of bears to get food to eat.

As Tiny departed our clearing, he stood up on his hind legs and marked two large Ponderosa Pine trees. The story was clear from his tracks in the snow and the bark pieces scattered atop the new snow. That discovery was incredibly exciting for me because now I have two "bear trees" identified on my own property. You can bet that there will be trail cameras pointed at them next spring. I honestly don't expect to see Tiny again this year - he seemed lazy and sleepy. I suspect that he'll be drifting toward hibernation in the near future.
The next morning, R decided to leave his own message over top of the coyote and bear scent. I always check out the locations that where my dogs choose to pee because they often are leaving messages for the wildlife. Compare R's photo to the coyote photo above!
I spliced together snippets from Tiny's visit into a video which you can watch below or here. Most of it is "true video" because my new camera records nighttime videos. You can see the coyote scaring Tiny a couple of times in the video. Astounding!


  1. Hi Y'all,

    Wonderful educational video! Thanks for sharing.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  2. yikes...some buddy is enjoying the snow
    Benny & Lily

  3. I am so entranced when I get to watch your wildlife cams. This was great as usual. I have a question for you. (well about 10 questions)

    Does Tiny already know where he will be sleepign for the winter.

    Does he already have a den picked out. Would another bear come in and take it if he didn't come in time. Or do they have it marked as their territory.

    Oh woman of wisdom......what know ye....

    Thanks so much, I'll await your answer.

    Berts My Vickie

  4. Wow, that's awesome. Watching that stuff never gets old for me. :)

  5. Brilliant!! Love how they each scare each other off at different times. Although, I never had thought that a bear would scare from a coyote. Is that normal?

    Lots of Luv & Kisses
    Addie, Lucie and Hailey

  6. Those pics are just great! I wonder if the bear doesn't run from the coyote because often they are in packs and in a group way could really hurt the bear. I really had to laugh when Tiny just crashed in your yard. Naptime!

  7. Great pics! Love seeing the snow.

    Coyotes are sure smart! I guess you can't end up being one of the most reviled critters in American history, but thwart every attempt that humanity makes to drive you to extinction, and NOT be amazingly smart!

    Good on them!

  8. Umm, I'm not sure if it's just me, but the bear doesn't seem all that tiny to me...


  9. Those are just amazing pictures! and to think that that all happened right in your backyard! AMAZING!

  10. I keep using the word "amazing" but this one is really over the top! What a treat to see these wonderful wild animals so clearly. A real life study of nature. I loved it. Great Friday pictures of lovely K as well.

  11. Oh wow - that is TOO COOL!!! We're in awe!!

    Boondocks & The Love Shack Pack

  12. Who needs a TeeVees when you gots this to watch! )

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  13. It's hard to believe that the coyote actually frightened Tiny off! Maybe it's part of that really sleepy feeling he's going through right now. The video is pretty cool!

  14. Great pictures. Tiny is pretty cute. It is strange that the coyote scared off Tiny. Maybe he just likes his privacy. :-)

  15. Great photos of "Tiny" (aka Snowy Butt). I'm amazed that he was spooked by the coyote. He'll need a big den! I'm thinking our bears have gone into hibernation, though our days have been sunny, it's pretty cold up here.

  16. Laughing at Tinys antics .What a great start to a week .

  17. Wow.. I loved this series of photos and video. Very, very well done!!


  18. These are amazing trailcam shots!
    I did laugh out loud at Tiny..c'mon buddy, a coyote? You're enormous!

  19. Tiny doesn't look so tiny to me!! Coyotes are definitely smart!

    Your pal, Pip

  20. That is so cool! Sleep tight, Tiny. See you in the Spring.

  21. What a great video! Thanks for sharing that with us - I love how interlinked creatures are. I think both the coyote and the bear would get along fine without the other, it's a lonely wilderness out there. I like to imagine that even though they kind of pester each other, they like the comfort of knowing they're not alone.
    It's been awhile since I've visited last - glad to be here again :)

  22. Great post, KB - we loved following the entire visit from Tiny - amazing that he stayed for an hour. You must offer him a very hospitable welcome:)

    Wonder if any of the wildlife will come by for Trick or Treating.

  23. Kia ora KB,
    What an absolutely lovely bear. Hope Tiny has found a warm safe place to curl up in for a bit. Kia kaha.

  24. this is all so wonderful to see, thank you for sharing your findings with us! I will have to pass this on to some friends.

  25. It amazing to see how the coyote uses the bear to help wrangle his food. Smart Coyote.
    I was just thinking about this very moment. Its dark and cold, and I wonder what Tiny is doing, and if he is all alone.. He sounds lonely.

  26. A bear!...and then a Coyote! Woweee..thank you for showing us your photos about where you live.

  27. Wonderful video what a privilege to see it. Thank you

  28. I got home really late last night, and my husband excitedly told me about this post and anxiously waited for me to try to call up the video on my phone (because we can't view videos at home on our dial-up). But cell phone service was out! This morning he reminded me I have to find your video so he can watch it. IT'S AWESOME! Hope the phone is working again tonight so I can show it to him!

    We both were so surprised to see the bear isn't hibernating yet!

  29. What a bunch of interesting visitors you had! Wow! I love the night video feature. Very cool! The size difference between the bear and coyote was really evident. Amazing that Tiny would be scared away, but I'm glad he's playing it safe. :)


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