NABC Bears, Ice, Catkins, and an error - UPDATE April 12, 2020

At the Bear Center, Tasha was back to her sweet treat tree and then on to entertain herself and us while Holly and Lucky entertained each other as Toni Embree caught in this 3-minute video

Before I forget, I wrote a wrong date last night. The first bear spotted around here was on April 8, not the 5th. (Now corrected on the update) None reported since.

Beaver mom with juvenileBeaver mom with juvenileWhile the bears sleep or at least continue their winter lethargy, the early bird is getting the catkins. On quaking aspens, buds are bursting and furry little catkins are growing and grouse are eating them (12-14% protein). By the time bears are out and climbing to the tops of aspens, the catkins will be bigger, so maybe bears know what they are doing energy-wise. Maybe the average bear is smarter than we think.

Beavers are still bound by ice on the lakes; but on the rivers a week ago the ice was disappearing in some stretches and this mother was leading her 10 or 11-month old baby on a quest for food (They’re born in May or June). The mother would dive under an ice shelf while the baby waited for her to resurface and lead onward. Here on Woods Lake, which is one of the first for ice-out, the water and ice by the lodge across the lake is looking pretty black as it begins to melt, but the beavers are still ice-bound.

Beaver lodge Woods LakeBeaver lodge Woods Lake Gull at suetGull at suet


As I wrote that last sentence, the eagle flew close again and is perched on the pointy top of a spruce tree while I get the right lens on to click him if he comes. The suet has also been popular with gulls today with the lakes still frozen and fruitless. Gulls are back in number now. The picture is of 6 O’clock trying to pull off a piece of still-frozen suet early this morning.

The day started with a serene scene as a bit of the outlet stream for Woods Lake started to open and was quickly occupied by a beautiful pair of hooded mergansers.

Turkey maleTurkey male Quaking aspen catkinsQuaking aspen catkins Hooded merganser pairHooded merganser pair


Big excitement for Donna and me shortly after our big lunch of turkey leftovers was seeing only the second turkey I’ve seen here in 27 years. I don’t know how they make it through the winter here. It was eating the little blades of emerging grass just like the deer. As the turkey got bolder, the deer got warier and didn’t know what to make of this critter. They had probably never seen a turkey before. The deer shied away. But when a deer later ran by, the turkey ran away. April is turkey mating season in the north, and the wattle on this big Tom’s neck was in its full red glory. He gobbled at times, which is what Toms do in mating season to gather hens. I don’t know how far this Tom traveled in his search for a mate, but he lucked out to find this spot that has some blades of grass, although grass is also appearing on roadsides now as evidenced by the number of deer eating their now. Along that line, this was the only day that I ever counted 4 deer IN Ely as I drove to work at dawn. The big Tom here knew a good thing when he found it and stayed here the rest of the day. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. The previous sighting here was also in April—on April 28, 2012.

Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center