LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why We Bring the Feeders Inside

We hang birdfeeders in summer as well as winter. We know we are not doing this for the birds...we are doing it for ourselves. The birds will be perfectly fine without our food. On the other hand, we would not be fine if we didn't see all our friendly birds so often. Because of the feeders, the birds nest nearby. Because of the feeders we have the delight of seeing parents bringing their fledglings where we watch their clumsy attempts at learning to feed themselves. They amuse us all summer long.

Birdfeeders are a magnet for black bears in the mountains. Many people believe the bears want only food, but birdseed is a special treat for them. It's not enough to keep your garbage secured. Our community has been established for more than 35 years, so bear sightings are not common as they once were. On the other hand, we have a lot of green space and border a national forest, so there will always be an occasional encounter. Most of the encounters with the bears occur because a homeowner did something stupid. Like leaving dog food outside the door, or leaving leftover food on the porch, or throwing bread crumbs out for the birds, or hanging bird feeders from the ground, or leaving bird feeders up overnight.

The bears are awake and moving now as they always are in the spring. Last week, this picture was in the Asheville newspaper. There were three black bears, although the photograph shows only two of them. They climbed up to a second-story deck to feast at the bird feeders.

Photo from the Asheville Citizen-Times

There is no sure way to keep black bears from birdfeeders short of removing the feeders completely. That is a fact. There are a few other things that may reduce the attraction. We hang the birdfeeders off a second-story deck. In summer we feed only low-residue seeds. They are much more expensive, but there is little waste and fewer seeds on the ground. (An added benefit is that the birds remain at the feeders longer since they don't have to crack any seeds.) We bring the feeders in before dusk, much to the chagrin of the cardinals who really like to feed at this time. We hang them again after sunrise. We regularly use a leaf blower to dispurse any seeds on the ground.
----------Despite all this, we are fully aware that nothing will stop the bears if people like us continue to feed the birds. So we are doing this fully aware that we might have a visitor. If so, we will definitely stop feeding the birds except for the winter. I would miss them terribly, but it wouldn't be fair to have a black bear learn that humans provide food in the form of birdseeds.
----------Fortunately, we have not seen any bear signs near our end of the community. No scat, no rubbing, no digging for larvae. Be assured that if we do, our birdfeeders will come down for all except the winter months when the bears are hibernating.
The bears are extremely clever and can get to almost any feeder.
Photo from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology



Photo from NY Dept of Environmental Conservation


So we keep our fingers crossed that the bears do not wander our way. Because, much as we adore our birds at the feeders, the feeders will come down should we have evidence of bear activity.

27 comments:

To Visit My said...

your blog is very good......

Lynne said...

I'm torn about feeding up at Hasty Brook for the same reasons. Last summer a bear took down the feeders while we were away. I hand them on iron shepherd's hooks and the bear bent the sturdy hooks over at the ground. We'll be stopping leaving feedrs up soon. I'll hand them for the few days that we're there, then take them down when we leave. We've never had bears around while we're there camping but if they do show up I'll have to think about feeding birds at all.

Cedar ... said...

ACK! That's enough evidence for me! I do not want to do anything to entice bears to come near my house. I live in the woods and they are close enough as it is!

Dog_geek said...

We've never had problems with black bears at our feeders, although I know that there are bears around. We've only seen one black bear since moving into this house - when our neighbor called us and told us not to let the dogs out, because he could see a bear in the back field. It was still pretty far from our house, and far from our fenced "yard" that the dogs access, but close enough that the dogs would have been able to smell and/or see it.

Iris said...

Smart move on your part! Do you plant stuff that attracts birds, like rudbeckia, sunflowers, and the like, and add more water sources in summer? I barely feed the birds in summer here, but they still come to the garden almost as much as when I do fill the feeders.

We're looking at Watauga County for our next and hopefully last move, by the way. Any realtor tips?

troutbirder said...

No bears here in Bluff Country but trip to the Arrowhead and the BWCA are another story. Duluth packs containing food must be hung very high between two trees to keep them from eating our lunch.

NCmountainwoman said...

Iris - I used to live in Boone (Watauga County) but left too many years ago to know any realtors. There is a blogger from Boone
http://www.wayfaringwanderer.com. Her email address is on her profile and she might be of help.

Cheri said...

I lived in Avery County where there are plenty of bears (and still are here in Buncombe). I learned to take my feeders in at night and put them back out during the day when most bears are not so active. Also when they raided the trash cans, people told us that the bears hated used cat litter and would not open trash with it in it. We are safe from bear trash raiding as we have plenty of litter!
I can suggest some realors up in the High Country for Iris!

Shellmo said...

you are very smart! I've been taking my feeders inside at night too (I had a racoon teach me a lesson last month!!) We do have black bears in our area but no problems have been cited that I've heard of.

fishing guy said...

Carolyn: Amazing photo of the bears being very resourceful.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great post, Carolyn. We always take our feeders in at night.. I've also found that the birds will come back when I take them in (when we are not at home)---and that they won't starve to death... HA!!!

We don't have bears here (at least so far--although I did read that one had been spotted last year)--but we have plenty of night-critters who would love the birdseed!!!!

Have a great day.
Hugs,
Betsy

Bird Girl said...

Bears don't seem to be a problem where I live - though I have seen a couple through the years. I'm actually scared to death of them - not from a distance...but if I knew one may be outside my house...I'd freak!!! They can get into houses if they want and I would die if I saw a giant bear outside...my feeders would go in so fast....
I would love to see some cubs - but then...Mom wouldn't be far behind, would she? YIKES!

grammy said...

Fun to view bear pictures...but not to have a bear. They are so funny(o;

Cheryl said...

Oh my goodness....black bears.....that is so exciting but of course, can fully understand you would not want to encounter them. I would not want to either....much as I love wildlife, black bears, are another matter......

Your posts makes our wildlife seem quite tame......

Tina said...

I've seen what damage bears can do to one's house when I lived outside Penn State, Pa..as a youngster. Living on top of a mt we were used to seeing them from afar..but one incident scared me the most..
We had a top load freezer on an enclosed porch & during the night two bears tore off the door to the porch and twisted off the top of the freezer like it was made of thin plastic...my Dad was able to chase them out of the porch..

I can well understand..not putting out feeders if they are any where around!!

"Just Me - NC Beth" said...

Well, we definitely do not have bears in this area...at least we're not suppose to!

Oh, and by the way..."Blue Plate" mayo..mother remembers quite well this brand!!

~Beth

Michele said...

Oh yes, I know much about those bears tramping around here, that's for sure. What a wonderful and informative post!!!

I thank you so much for visiting my Purple Post and for your support!
Hugs♥

cedrorum said...

Hope you have continuing luck on not attracting any bears. They can really cause some havoc. And of course, there might be people in your area that would blame everything on the bears just doing what they do naturally.

Kallen305 said...

OMG! I can't even imagine! The third photo is classic. I stop feeding in the summer, but not because of bears. Good luck with your set up this summer and I hope you get no bears!

George said...

Thanks for an informative post. Fortunately we've heard of no bear sightings in the Glade since we've been here.

Cicero Sings said...

Good to know. Our country community isn't as country as it once was so not too many bear sightings around here. We have another month before they get on the move ... but I'll keep my eyes and ears peeled and if I hear anything ... I'll bring our feeders in.

Jayne said...

Yikes! Can you even imagine looking out and seeing THAT? It's good that you all are so careful Carolyn.

Jane said...

I never thought about bears dining on bird seed, but then again, food is food! Great post as always,

Jane

scienceguy288 said...

Wow! I have never actually met a bear at any distance. Interesting. Perhaps I just make too much noise.

Larry said...

Thanks for the reminder.Now that we are getting bears in Connecticut,we've had to take the feeders down in the spring or the bears will take them down for us.

Ruth said...

A very interesting post. We had one black bear in the city last year but that is very, very rare. Sounds like you are being very careful and vigilant.

KatDoc said...

Wow - worse than squirrels and raccoons! Smart move to bring the feeders in at night.

In Adams County, OH (two counties east of me), there is a black bear in residence. The theory is it is a young male who was pushed out of his natal territory in W. Va and ended up here. That is close enough for me.

~Kathi