A Bear, A Family Squabble, and More - UPDATE April 20, 2020

The first bear seen in the community arrived at 1 AM today. First bearFirst bearThe homeowner had a bag tied so the bear would stand up and reveal to the trail camera what sex it is (a male) and if it has chest markings to help identify him (none seen) as shown in this 1½-minute video. Click here to view. His light muzzle is a bit of a cue, but we’ll have to see him in good light to do better.

Now I want to see one here. Excitement mounts. This is the time of year when we breathe a sigh of relief with each bear we find who has survived another fall and winter.

Gull "The Catcher"Gull "The Catcher"Out the windows, other wildlife is visiting. But with Peggy home in Indiana and Donna tied up and unable to come here some days, the faces in the windows make it hard to concentrate on work. I’m the only feeder. Gulls are back in force the last couple days with 8 perched in trees or circling over at once. With the lakes still covered with ice, they can’t find much to eat. That means they are here. It is good to see gulls that probably made long flights to the Atlantic Ocean and are now the same as ever here—like ‘8 and 4’ named for two dots on the circle of its left iris. He is the gull most comfortable near me, and he pecks loud on the window by my desk until I get up and get the bologna. Another welcome returnee is ‘The Catcher’ who looks in the window with a stern look (picture) and flies back and forth from the window to the feeding location until I act. He then faces me in concentration ready to leap and catch or whatever it has to do to get pieces of bologna I toss to him like a Frisbie. The gull named ‘Six O’clock’ from a dot at the bottom of his iris is still coming, but more often without his mate now. I don’t know if nesting has started yet or not.

Out another window, the deer have more pleading looks (picture). It’s hard for them now, too, with not much more than tiny blades of grass to subsist on until full green up starts in early May. Mothers are showing their pregnancies as they eat their way to birthing time at the end of May. The tiny blades of grass in the yard and the extra food we toss out the window is their best bet now. All the twigs I’ve seen around here have already been browsed, so I see their faces and have to respond. They know what it means when I start cranking open the window.

Doe and fawns looking in windowDoe and fawns looking in window BeaverBeaver

 

The ice lockdown on the lakes is starting to ease. This afternoon, with the temperature at 41°F, ice melted around the beaver lodge, and at 5:49 PM, a beaver decided not to self isolate in the lodge any longer. The first beaver I’ve seen here this year was out swimming (picture). It then dove under the ice and disappeared, probably looking for vegetation on the bottom.

Woodchuck biting former suitor Woodchuck biting former suitor
Woodchuck bowling over and biting former suitor

 

The woodchucks are a puzzle. On the 16th and 17th, the female sat demurely at her burrow entrance as her light-colored suitor with a damaged right ear examined her. Then yesterday, she was sitting quietly there when the suitor spotted her from 53 feet away (measured on Google Earth) and came running as fast and directly as I’ve ever seen a woodchuck travel. Her reaction? She dove at him and bit him (picture) and then dug her feet into the ground, pushed forward, and bowled him over and was lying on top of him with her head twisted to the left I think to bite his arm (picture). The suitor extricated himself from her somehow and ran away. A few minutes later he came up on the second floor deck for some broccoli and sunflower seed hearts only to find that the handsome new male has beaten him to it. The new male chased him down the steps. I didn’t understand the attack by the female because, from what I’ve read, the male joins her in her burrow for a month after mating until she is almost ready to give birth. We’ll probably figure some of it out as time goes on.

I’ve probably been a little over-anxious to see a bear lately, considering that the first appearance here last year was a male at 12:55 AM on April 26th.

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

**Note: A computer glitch prevented us from posting this update on April 20. We appologize for the delay.

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