Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. In the natural world, agents such as fungi and bacteria that turn dead plant and animal matter into air, water and nutrients come to mind. If you broaden the definition of recycling to include the re-use of material, however, many more organisms come into play.
Some humans continue to feed birds in the spring after Black Bears have emerged from their dens. The bears have not eaten for four or five months and once their digestive system adjusts, they are extremely hungry. Available bird feeders are often raided by hungry bears at this time of year, and end up discarded on the forest floor with the seeds they contained ending up inside the bears’ stomachs. Eventually the bears defecate and their feces contain little else but the husks of sunflower seeds interspersed with intact seeds. Keen-eyed Black-capped Chickadees are very quick to take advantage of these recycled sources of protein. (Check the Chickadee’s beak closely.)
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