An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Beechnuts & Black Bears

11-22-17 black bear scat and beechnuts 049A7821One need look no further than this Black Bear scat to know that American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) nuts (hard mast) are a preferred food for Black Bears, both in the fall and spring. They are an important food source for other wildlife as well, including White-tailed Deer, Fishers, Wild Turkeys, Ruffed Grouse and many small mammals and birds.

There are very good reasons why beechnuts are a preferred food for so many creatures. They have about the same protein content as corn but five times the fat content. Compared to acorns, beechnuts have nearly twice as much crude protein, twice the fat of white oak acorns and about the same fat content as red oak acorns. Research on the importance of beech mast for Black Bear reproduction shows that in northern Maine, 22% of the female black bears that were reproductively available reproduced following falls when beechnut production was poor. The proportion of reproducing females increased to 80% following falls when beechnut production was high. (Photo:  Black Bear beechnut husk-filled scat, 1 1/2″ diameter)

8 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    This was the first year a large Beechtree, next to our driveway, produced Beechnuts….bountiful! The squirrels must have had a blast and stuffed themselves, because the husks were everywhere & during that time they left the bird feeders alone. Didn’t see any Turkeys. So glad Bears haven’t made it down here.

    November 24, 2017 at 8:57 am

  2. Alan M Stoops

    Hadn’t thought about beechnuts as being a spring food, but why not, if there are some still around.
    On another note, I saw a chipmunk this morning. Got me wondering about why it wasn’t hibernating. Temperature around 20F, but no snow cover. Maybe, as with bears, it is food availability, more than temperature, that influences hibernation time?

    November 24, 2017 at 8:59 am

  3. Alan M Stoops

    Alice Pratt, many years ago my (now ex-) wife made a beechnut pie for Thanksgiving, based on a pecan pie recipe. It was the only year I’d ever seen beechnuts abundant enough for that.

    November 24, 2017 at 9:02 am

    • Alice Pratt

      Funny…because I was going to add, above, that humans can eat Beechnuts! Which I didn’t know till last month

      November 24, 2017 at 11:36 am

  4. Looks more like acorn hull in the blow-up pic, but beachnuts are loved!

    November 24, 2017 at 9:36 am

    • Dissection of scat confirmed that they were beechnuts!

      November 24, 2017 at 10:11 am

  5. Ruth Grant

    Here is a picture of some black bear scat found on our lakeshore property in Northern Minnesota in early May of this year. Do you know what the white specs might be? Our yard is mostly white pines, but the area has all kinds of flowers and trees and berries.

    Love your posts!

    On Fri, Nov 24, 2017 at 7:40 AM, Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “One need look no further than this Black Bear scat > to know that American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) nuts (hard mast) are a > preferred food for Black Bears, both in the fall and spring. They are an > important food source for other wildlife as well, including ” >

    November 28, 2017 at 10:39 pm

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