Quiet Day with Excitement

Lily_and_Hope_-_20110112_191428Lily and Hope were fairly inactive on this mild (18F) day, although that could mean they are resting up for a bout of activity.  Lots of suckling by Hope but not the activity we saw yesterday.  We don’t know if Hope is actually getting milk, but we know that cubs want to suckle no matter what.  The sound she makes means she is very likely suckling but that’s all we can tell.  Cubs sometimes briefly make that sound when they are warm and contented, but we have never heard the prolonged version except when they are suckling.  What should we call the sound?  Motorlike hum describes it and is often used.  Some say chittering.  In the paper by Peters, G., Owen, M. & Rogers, L. 2007. Humming in bears: a peculiar sustained mammalian vocalization. Acta Theriologica 52: 379-389, we simply called it humming.  Whatever we call it, the sound is so familiar to Lily fans that we all know what we are talking about.  Actually, when it comes to black bear behaviour in dens, we Lily fans are the top experts in the world.  Before the Den Cams, no one could see undisturbed behaviour.

As we were writing this, Hope left the den. We wonder what she was doing outside, but the PTZ camera does not work at night. We watched as Lily sat scratching and grooming alone in the big den. Hope finally returned and almost immediately began suckling.

Another question is why Lily scratches so much.  Could it be fleas?  Probably not.  Fleas are very uncommon on bears, although they have been reported  http://www.bearstudy.org/website/images/stories/Publications/Parasites_of_Bears-A_Review.pdf .  If you click on that long paper, the flea information is on page 42.

People mentioned the blurriness of the camera at night.  We think dust on the lens might be catching the infra-red light at night.  We hope Lily or Hope licks the dust off soon.  One of these days, we may go to the den and re-position the camera back a bit and wipe the lens.  The way the camera is secured with many big rubber bands, though, doing that is harder than it sounds.  All that motion inside the den and moving the 8-foot tube that houses the camera makes the bears wonder what’s up.  We like to stay away from the den as much as possible so we know that what we are seeing is not prompted by visits.

At the North American Bear Center, Donna Andrews reported that Honey was biting at her foot pads today just like Lily was doing yesterday in this video captured by Linda Gibson http://www.bear.org/website/live-cameras/videos/den-cam-video-clips-2011.html.

bear_box_in_classroomThe excitement today was among the teachers who are testing the Black Bear Boxes that Trish Kirk and company created.  

Rhonda Hennis wrote in huge letters;

“It's here, the Bear Box is here and it was well worth the wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No sleep tonight as I will go over each and every piece of it and read this wonderful Manual over and over....Trish it is wonderfull! OMGoodness, I am so excited;-)”

Helen Schwarz wrote;

“Today the children explored some of the hands on materials with a volunteer who could help to answer their questions. They pretended to be biologists and drew pictures and wrote summary statements about their observation.  The bear skull, the scat, and the footprints totally captured their attention!    We read part of "Lily's Big Event" and used puppets to help tell the story.   We practiced breathing slowly like Lily and Hope during hibernation.”

Meanwhile, teachers are creating lesson plans to expand the Education Outreach Project.

Thank you for all you do.

—Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield, Biologists, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center