Monday, May 22, 2017

The birds and the - bears? #phenology

The Daughter Person [DP] left a post it note on the bathroom mirror last night: "Chased bear away from front feeder." This morning's verbal report included "noisy raccoons fighting." The physical evidence I found in the kitchen sink this morning included both nectar feeders, and the one hung out front was disassembled and had sunflower seeds stuck to and in it.

June, 2014: hungry visitor
June, 2014: hungry visitor
Photo by J. Harrington

Now, the DP fussed at me the other day about using red nectar in the feeders since clear is supposed to be safer, but even I am not ready to consider possible collusion between the DP and bears and raccoons, just to cover dumping the freshly filled (with red nectar) feeders I put out on Saturday. If she did have such shamanic powers, I'd probably have seen evidence before this. As of this writing, the front feeder hanger has been restraightened and the feeders refilled with clear nectar and rehung. They'll be joining the sunflower feeders in being brought in each evening and put out in the morning and we'll look forward to having the bear, described by the Son-In-Law as a robust 300 to 350 pounder, eventually decide other feeding stations might be more productive. Country living is rewarding but can get really annoying from time to time or, to be more accurate, each evening the bears and the birds are out, about and hungry.

While I was typing the paragraph above, I also was watching one of the local gray squirrel gang sample the contents of a grape jelly feeder. Apparently s/he didn't find it tasty enough because, after a taste or two, s/he kind of shivered and walked away. I hope the orioles and tanagers find it more to their liking but have been disappointed by their response this Spring.

oriole at nectar feeder
oriole at nectar feeder
Photo by J. Harrington

Anyhow, our friends at MNDNR advise us to "Remove bird feeders in the spring. If you persist in feeding birds during the summer, remove seed, suet, and hummingbird feeders at night." As one who has, for years, persisted in feeding birds in Summer, I point out to our DNR friends that Minnesota has precious few hummingbirds, orioles, tanagers or rose-breasted grosbeaks around to feed in the Winter. We do keep our trash can in the garage during the Summer and feed the dogs inside. One or two feeders doesn't fit my definition of "abundant food source," but a hungry bear might find otherwise.

What I think I've observed over the years is that some years local bears are becoming active in late Winter/early Spring, well before natural food sources are available. (That would seem consistent with assessments that climate change is warming Minnesota Winters more than our Summers.) The bears then roam our "neighborhood" in a pattern, looking for targets of opportunity. That would help explain why the front hummingbird feeder went unmolested for more than a week although it remained outside every night. Unless the raccoons are in collusion with the bear and summoned it to bring the feeder within their reach? (😉)

Bear In There


by Shel Silverstein


There's a Polar Bear
In our Frigidaire--
He likes it 'cause it's cold in there.
With his seat in the meat
And his face in the fish
And his big hairy paws
In the buttery dish,
He's nibbling the noodles,
He's munching the rice,
He's slurping the soda,
He's licking the ice.
And he lets out a roar
If you open the door.
And it gives me a scare
To know he's in there--
That Polary Bear
In our Fridgitydaire.


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