When I woke up yesterday morning as usual just before five a.m., it was raining lightly so it was still somewhat dark outside. As I looked out the window towards the woods and the brook, I noticed that the bird feeder down there seemed to be tilting in an odd direction… and that there was a tall, dark shape in front of the feeder. When the dark shape suddenly changed position, I realized I was looking at a black bear, standing upright with his back towards me and his head pushed deep inside the feeder.

There are a lot of bears around here this year, and the local wildlife people have been warning everyone not to feed them. They especially warn to take the food out of the bird feeders, so ours have been empty for weeks.

I think this bear was probably quite young because he was much smaller than the bears we usually see… although he was still plenty big enough. Standing upright, the bear was slightly taller than the bird feeder tray, which is six feet off the ground.

At first we watched the bear through the window… then we quietly opened the back door and stepped out onto the porch and then out onto the lawn. That’s when we realized that the bear was watching us with as much interest as we were watching him.

I have never had the opportunity to watch a bear for such a long period of time before… usually we see them and they’re gone before we can even grab the camera… but this bear stayed calm and unconcerned no matter what we did.

The bear was playful and inquisitive. He kept going back to look inside the empty feeder and to lick the soil under it. He sat down and cleaned his paws and he rolled around on his back in some tall, wet grass. He walked around, scratched in the dirt, and “investigated.” Finally he walked to the brook, drank for a long time, and ambled back into the woods.

And we went back inside the house… and out of the rain!