A cheeky black bear was caught perched precariously atop a 75-foot tree – using a bird’s nest as its ‘personal supermarket’ five stories above the ground.
Ken MacDonald and his wife Susan were visiting a heronry in Severn Township, Canada, on June 8 when they spotted a ‘big, black thing’ sitting in one of the roosts 75 feet above the ground.
While the surrounding nests were all occupied by adult herons keeping watch over eggs, one of the furthest ones had a juvenile bear – weighing around 75 pounds – balancing on top.
As retired shoe shop owner Ken, 68, watched on, the out of place predator regularly dipped its nose into the straw structure, apparently making the most of an easy meal.
A cheeky but ‘very determined’ black bear was caught perched precariously atop a 75-foot tree
Ken MacDonald and his wife Susan were visiting a heronry in Severn Township, Canada, on June 8 when they spotted a ‘big, black thing’ sitting in one of the roosts 75 feet above the ground
While the surrounding nests were all occupied by adult herons keeping watch over eggs, one of the furthest ones had a juvenile bear – weighing around 75 pounds – balancing on top
Ken said: ‘Susan was rather distressed for the herons’ safety, both young and old.
‘I was also concerned this predation event could seriously affect what was a very active healthy colony. But predation is part of nature.
‘I believe it was taking chicks. Most of the herons in this colony probably hatched around the second week of May as many were quite well developed.
‘We don’t know how long the bear has been in the area or how long it will stay. It may be using the heronry as its own personal supermarket.
‘Very few people have seen this type of behaviour from a black bear.
‘Once we reached our observation point we were mostly preoccupied with viewing the closest nest on our side of the pond.
‘But looking towards the back of the pond, Susan asked ‘what’s that big black thing’. We got our binoculars on it and could see that it was a black bear standing in one of the heron nests.
‘The nest was about the height of a five story building so around 75 feet tall. A bigger or older bear would probably not have been able to make the climb or fit into the nest.
‘We couldn’t tell from our vantage point what the bear might have been eating though we often saw it nose down into the nest and work away at something.
‘Some of my photos show what looks like a stick in the mouth of the bear – perhaps holding some egg or other residue.
‘We watched the bear for about an hour, during which time it seemed quite content to stay in the nest.
‘We wondered whether perhaps it might wait till nightfall and descend under the cover of darkness to avoid harassment from the adult birds. A heron’s bill can be a lethal weapon.’
According to Ken, when a friend returned to the same heronry two days later, the same bear was spotted in the area but snoozing on the ground this time.
Ken said: ‘This was our second visit to the heronry this spring. When we visited the heronry at the end of April we observed over 50 active nests with adult birds sitting on them.
Ken MacDonald said bears are omnivores and will target whatever meal is the easiest, meaning this was either a very determined or very hungry animal to have climbed 75 feet
‘We thought this past week would be a good time to return and see the activity that usually occurs in a heronry with the chicks hatch and are being fed by their parents in the nest.
The 75-pound bear climbed an estimate 75-feet, or five storeys, to get to its quarry
‘There has been a lot of discussion as to whether the bear went up there after chicks or just eggs.
‘Bears are omnivores and will take advantage of whatever meal seems easiest, although climbing a 75 foot skinny tree would seem to mean either a very determined or very hungry bear.
‘We have been experiencing very hot dry weather in our area.
‘When bears first awake from hibernation they can feed on the green grasses and fresh vegetation available.
‘By this time of year, things have dried up, the grasses are no longer edible, the berries are not ripe yet, so the bears start turning over rocks looking for ants, insects, and grubs and if they can find and reach birds’ nests, chicks and eggs.
‘Berries should be ripening in a couple of weeks, which may tempt the bear to move off. And of course whatever chicks remain will eventually fledge, get their flight feathers and become harder to catch.
‘Usually when we come across a bear, as soon as the bear sees, hears, or smells you it is off like a shot. So it was nice to observe one keeping still for a while.’