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Green-Up, Big Changes - UPDATE May 14, 2023

Red-bellied woodpecker

With sunny daytime temperatures in the seventies and eighties now, green-up is leaping forward; and animals are changing their diets and routines. Bear food is suddenly everywhere. Throughout the upland forests and openings, large-leaved aster is covering the forest floor and is a favorite at this stage. White clover, another favorite, is up, too. Some aspen trees are still in the catkin stage, and many quaking aspens have young leaves—both are bear foods.

 Large-leaf asterLarge-leaf aster  White cloverWhite clover

A couple nights ago, a night-time bear visitor let me know how he had spent his day. His piece of evidence was almost entirely vegetation.

Deer that had been eating peanuts (with no shells) turned to eating grass but have mostly stopped coming now that young green leaves are all through the forest. A picture shows a 4-foot aspen sapling that gave up its bud tip to a deer over winter and is now covered with leaves for both deer and bears.

 Aspen leafing outAspen leafing out  Aspen leavesAspen leaves

Birdlife is changing, too. Juncos and their goldfinch cousins have disappeared and been replaced by rose-breasted grosbeaks, chipping sparrows, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and the first of the warblers—yellow-rumped and pine so far. Red-winged blackbirds are showing more of the red on their shoulders now. Gulls are back in force. The out-of-place red-bellied woodpecker that appeared on October 11 is still here now seven months later where he won’t find a mate.

Herring gullHerring gull

It’s nice to see the forest turning green; but with all that’s happening, the best feeling is seeing or hearing about each bear that is still with us, including Lily.

With the late spring and somewhat delayed green-up, there is less chance of berry blossoms being killed by a spring frost, making me optimistic that this will be a good berry year for the bears. It’s too early, though, to know about rainfall that can also make or break a berry crop.

Thank you for all you do,
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center


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