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To be honest, no one who lives within a 50 mile radius of us would say “Bears on the deck!” with an exclamation mark. Bears are ho-hum around here—to a point. One of the fast food restaurants at the edge of town had to start locking their garbage bin because an entire family of bears had adopted them. I’ve seen bears wandering around the town streets—including on the college campus, taking in the sights, more than once. I think there are more bears in town than on our ranch.
My husband and I entertain wild birds—lots and lots of wild birds. We bribe them, of course, with seeds, a bath, and drinking water. The hummingbirds require more fuss—four cups of water to one cup of sugar, boil for five minutes, cool and serve. In the midst of summer, we can go through 20 pounds of sugar per week—all for the hummingbirds. No, I’m not kidding. We have THAT many hummingbirds. We must be on some sort of route, because there’s nothing special about our sugar.
Anyway, our biggest problem (besides paying for all that sugar and the seeds) is that bears who’ve just awakened and feel really hungry also like hummingbird syrup. They would prefer nice, juicy garbage, but my husband freezes our garbage and delivers it en masse to the dump periodically. (Yes, it does take up a lot of space in the freezer, but YOU explain that to him!) The bears still check our garbage cans to be sure the scents of fish packages and cat food belong to empty containers.
My husband has a theory that male bears are messier—spreading the garbage all over our acreage. The female bear sorts and dumps in a relatively neat pile beside the can. We appreciate her consideration. This week our “guest” was a blonde female black bear. She had two large blonde cubs in her wake. We were distracted from our television program by thumps on the deck. When we went to investigate, there were the three bears (no Papa Bear), looking guilty as they had dismembered five of our six hummingbird feeders. I slammed our screen door and they left the deck.
Mama Bear returned to the garbage, which the cubs had already determined was a big bore, so they came back to the deck. This time my husband yelled at them as he would at stray dogs. The cubs understood his tone perfectly and they and their mother discreetly removed themselves from our property.
Bears can be dangerous, but mostly they’re just bears—wild animals looking to feed themselves as conveniently as possible. We enjoy the idea that we can live together peacefully, even if it did take my husband a while to patch the hummingbird feeders. (Our flock of hummingbirds was very disgusted the next morning.) Now, we’re replacing the feeders that are still leaking and reluctantly carrying the filled ones into the house each night. What we’ll do when the ants find the feeders so that we no longer want to leave them in our kitchen, we don’t know. But sharing space with Nature is worth the trouble—at least to us. (No, the pic isn’t ours. It was NIGHT.)
We have 3 dogs that like to chase the bears so our bird feeders are safe.