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Things That Go Bump

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Nocturnal visitors at the Hawk's Nest

If someone is on the other side of the continent and something goes bump in the night at home, does it make a sound? 

We were only a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean when we received a call telling us that bear(s) had made a major visit back home in Idaho.

How did my caller know? Well, we all know what bears do in the woods, and if your house is in the woods also, they do it all over the yard. Big ones and little ones; there must have been a dozen of them. 

Next question: how many bears does it take to leave a dozen piles in the yard during one stopover?

Carol called telling us of the natural fertilizer all over the place. But she found even more. I would not be surprised if she had made sure all the bird feeders were full on her previous visit. 

Please don’t tell Game Warden Matt Haag, but we do have bird feeders out in the summer. We like to have the birds around and the varieties we get are fantastic. For years we have kept a steel garbage can near the house with black oil sunflower seeds in it. The squirrels have figured out how to get the lid off, so it now has a steel cable holding the lid on. On a typical day any feed left in the back yard feeder by evening is finished up by the White Tails who come by. For that reason there is never more than a cup of seed in it. The feeder on the front porch has never been bothered by anything other than the squirrels, which I appear to have outsmarted—so far. So it is kept full. There is a small reserve of seed on the porch which has never been bothered. 

The back yard feeder had attracted the bears but it has been repairable. The garbage can on the deck and the storage on the front porch is too close to the house so they never get it. About once a year the suet feeder gets destroyed. I think there is a suet feeder bone yard somewhere nearby. 

In August our dog died. There were times she would bark in the night even though she was always in the house. We had surmised animals were getting too close to the house for her and went back to sleep. Now she is gone, plus the house was pretty much empty for over two weeks at the end of September. I’m thinking the place was very quiet and anything that may have been scared off before felt quite safe. 

Matt, just quit reading now, okay?

The only activity around the place was some neighbors driving in and out or Carol coming out, sometime with friends, to look around and get some quiet woods time. 

So I bet Carol filled the feeders and suet on one of her trips here. The bears came right after she left. They emptied the feeders and ripped the one hanging from the roof of the front porch down. There is one more trashed suet cage somewhere in the ethers around our place and the garbage can was tipped over, the lid bent around the steel cable and about thirty pounds of seeds taken. The container on the front porch was emptied and left in the yard several feet away. All this tells me they had found the smorgasbord. Both the porch and our deck had to be trespassed in order to wreak their havoc. 

When we got the call, Carol asked if she should get some more seed and suet and put it out. We said no let it stay fallow for a few weeks. 

A week after I arrived home, I woke up in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom. I have been known at those times to take the opportunity to get a breath of fresh air but not that night. I looked out the upstairs bathroom window to see a very black form standing next to the empty feeder. There were two smaller, very black forms wandering around her feet. When the moon moved around a tree I could see mom and two cubs. I woke Linda and we watched them, from the safety of the house, for over a half hour. Momma bear checked out the feeder then went to the suet tree where she found nothing. She then climbed the steps onto our deck and found no garbage can but saw it nearby and made a bee line for it. It was empty.  

There was still no seed or suet anywhere so they looked around quite a bit. At one point the mama stood beside the barbecue, but didn’t even seem to smell it. I thought it should smell like a beef, pork, turkey, chicken, salmon stew, but she paid no attention. Maybe it’s my cooking. She did stand in front of the locked door to the pump house for a while. Maybe she knows there is a freezer in there filled with all kinds of meats.   

We still have not got any seed or suet as we wait for winter to arrive. That is for you Matt, thanks for the advice.

Another something that seemed to be busy while we were gone was the underground tunnelers in our yard. In the early summer we had a few heaps of dirt; by August they looked like tailings piles from a moderate sized mine. When I got home we seemed to have grown the Tetons in our meadow. I half expect to see glaciers forming soon and could even see some technical climbers. Okay, maybe I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill but believe me, they were active. We call it Moleville.

Apparently, there were sounds. Sounds like a mother feeding and teaching, children playing and learning, and little miners creating tunnels and mountains. 

But now there are no sounds of birds. So I need to go to town and get some seed but I won’t put any out until after the snow flies, just in case Game Warden Haag stops by for an official visit. 





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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

Tagged as:

bears, The Hawks Nest, bump in the night

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