An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide –

Time To Take Down Bird Feeders

3-17-15 black bear-eating sunflower seeds  IMG_3607To prevent black bears from visiting backyard bird feeders, Fish & Wildlife Departments in New England recommend taking down birdfeeders from April 1st through December 1st. This year those dates are fairly conservative, as bears were visiting feeders after December 1st, and several have been seen frequenting feeders this month. The idea is to remove anything outdoors that would be of any interest to a bear which has just emerged from hibernation and is desperate for food.

Approximately 85% of a bear’s diet is vegetation. Before green shoots make an appearance in the spring, flower parts of aspen, willow, maple, ash and hazelnut, along with carrion, make up most of a bear’s diet. After losing 23% of its body weight during hibernation, a black bear finds protein-packed sunflower seeds very appealing. Make sure your garbage is secured, barbeques clean and pet food kept indoors, as well as your feeders. Keeping bears away not only prevents property from being damaged, but it also prevents bears from becoming nuisance animals that are habituated to food associated with humans, which often leads to the end of a bear’s life.

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.

12 responses

  1. Marilyn

    And the compost bin?
    I haven’t heard of bears in our area – yet!

    March 20, 2015 at 8:18 am

  2. My parents’ bird feeder in NH was ripped down by a black bear last year. My mom is a bird lover though, and has cherished watching birds in her backyard her whole life. I know she would never consider taking down her feeder for 9 months (9 months?!) out of the year. Is there some compromise you would recommend?

    March 20, 2015 at 10:48 am

    • Hi Emily,
      I wish more than anything I knew of a compromise, but I’m afraid I don’t. Most anything you would feed to birds is appealing to bears at this time of year. I’m in the same quandry myself –it’s a hard decision!

      March 20, 2015 at 10:59 am

      • Linda

        I had to compromise because the squirrels were decimating my feeders, and I know bears are in my neighborhood. I found that the suet seed cakes hung on a hanger from our deck (2 stories up) deterred both the squirrels and the bears. The chickadees, nuthatches, and downy and hairy woodpeckers love it. The cardinals get what drops to the ground. Bears can’t reach it, and squirrels aren’t interested. I get to watch bird antics all year with this rig, since I can see the hanger from my living room window.

        March 21, 2015 at 7:58 am

      • Great idea!

        March 21, 2015 at 9:28 am

  3. Meade Cadot

    Hi Mary,

    I’m glad bears are back on the landscape (hereabouts beginning in the 1990’s).

    HOWEVER, April to mid May is perhaps the most food-limited time for birds too. Furthermore, it is my belief that

    the biggest share of future curious naturalists (and conservationists) are those that grow up in households that feed birds. We NEED those bird feeders out there too! We naturalist types should be thinking about how to bear up and still keep the feeders going. Most of the time, I find that bringing the feeders inside for the night in late afternoon “works”. (I say, like bringing in the cat or the chickens.) We have a “bear resistant” rig here at the Harris Center-a feeding station that is raised and lowered like a flag on a two story flag pole. I know others have found electronic ways of keeping bears away (like motion activated lights), and my friends and neighbors Don and Lilian Stokes are very successful by electrifying their feeding station-just like an apiary. They wish many more people would do so.

    Would love to hear your thoughts.



    From: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland [] Sent: Friday, March 20, 2015 8:01 AM To: Subject: [New post] Time To Take Down Bird Feeders

    Mary Holland posted: “To prevent black bears from visiting backyard bird feeders, Fish & Wildlife Departments in New England recommend taking down birdfeeders from April 1st through December 1st. This year those dates are fairly conservative, as bears were visiting feeder”

    March 20, 2015 at 11:22 am

    • Hi Meade,
      I love your ideas and support them whole-heartedly. Could I post your comments on my blog?

      March 20, 2015 at 12:42 pm

  4. Reblogged this on Eliza Waters and commented:
    It’s that time of year again…words to the wise…

    March 20, 2015 at 11:53 am

  5. myra ferguson

    Thank you for this request. I’m a Coverts Cooperator and was trained to ask everyone to put-up and take-in bird feeds when the clocks change from standard to daylight savings time. Anyway we can get the message out to the humans. Our bears are too beautiful to put in danger.

    March 20, 2015 at 1:37 pm

  6. nicely posed
    bear 🙂

    March 21, 2015 at 9:04 am

  7. We don’t have bears in my area so my feeder will be out!

    March 21, 2015 at 6:58 pm

  8. Thank you very much for this interesting Post on bears. We in Switzland are so afraid of them that we kill them immediately if they dare to cross our borders!

    March 22, 2015 at 3:40 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s