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Black Bears Still Active

Black Bears often enter into hibernation in November, but their exact timing depends in large part on the weather as well as the availability of food such as hard mast (acorns, beechnuts, etc.).  Cold temperatures and scarce food hastens their entry, and warm weather and ample food delays it.

As long as bears are active (and they still are in the Northeast due in part to relatively warm weather), one would be wise to delay feeding birds. Even though a Black Bear’s metabolic rate during hibernation can drop to a quarter of its (nonhibernating) basal metabolic rate, it still needs to put on a considerable amount of fat (some bears double their weight) in order to sustain itself while it fasts through the winter.

A pre-hibernation feeding frenzy by Black Bears is why putting up bird feeders prematurely (before Black Bears hibernate) is discouraged by most northern Fish & Wildlife Departments.  If a bear comes upon a filled bird feeder it is very likely to return to it repeatedly until it goes into hibernation. A Black Bear’s memory is very impressive and most are unable to resist a free lunch.  If you can’t put off feeding the birds for another few weeks, it’s a good idea to bring feeders inside at night if you live in bear country. 

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8 responses

  1. Larry Master


    November 28, 2022 at 9:23 am

  2. Alice

    Those Bears must have a phenomenal sense of smell. I like the way it’s perched (do Bears perch??) on a perfect foot rest.

    November 28, 2022 at 10:36 am

    • Hi Alice,
      I recently read (but can’t confirm) that a bloodhound has a sense of smell 300 times that of a human…and a black bear has a sense of smell 7 times that of a bloodhound!

      November 28, 2022 at 11:04 am

      • Alice

        That is so incredibly amazing! I’ve read Polar Bears can smell quite a distance (a mile?). Maybe more.

        November 28, 2022 at 11:42 am

  3. Bern R

    Thank you, Mary, for your wonderful posts. My daughter, with whom I share them, will be making a donation to you, on our behalf tomorrow to garner any matches folks have.

    Best Bern Rose & Hannah Towne


    November 28, 2022 at 10:47 am

    • Thank you so much, Bern. I’m so glad that both you and your daughter enjoy my posts. A happy holiday season to you. Best, Mary

      November 28, 2022 at 11:01 am

  4. Alice

    I just read Polar Bears can smell food 20 miles away!!

    November 28, 2022 at 11:44 am

  5. Wendall Clough

    Our feeders that aren’t on the 2nd floor do get brought in at night. We see a lot of bears and have learned through the years. Yes they are still active but most have left for the big areas since the hunters showed up.

    November 29, 2022 at 4:48 am

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