Saturday, 20 October 2012

The birds and the bears: Big and small flock to backyard habitat

A young male black bear feeds at a bird feeder in the backyard of a house in southwest Loveland in this file photo. Area residents should not put out bird seed until mid-November, to avoid attracting bears that are currently trying to pack on the pounds. (Steve Stoner)
Black bears devour 20,000 calories per day this time of year, building up their body fat to survive through the winter in their dens.
Birds, too, must eat a lot during cold months to survive from day to day.
And both very different wildlife species, the big and the small, will feast on bird seed if it is out and available.
Bird lovers in the area create backyard habitats to support and attract their feathered friends -- a key element to helping birds live through Colorado's cold winter months.
But Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials, knowing how hungry bears will go after seed and nectar, urge residents to wait until after the first snow, when bears are inactive for the winter, or to at least take steps to prevent bears feasting in backyards.
More than 80 percent of human-bear conflicts can be traced back to a bear's first encounter with a bird feeder -- easily recognizable and reachable to the bear, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Seven pounds of bird seed contain 12,180 calories, or more than half of what a 100- to 400-pound bear must consume per day in October and early November, according to the Parks and Wildlife website.

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