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Over the years Joan Thompson has welcomed wild visitors to her home in Morrisville, Vermont. A belligerent turkey once tried to smash through Joan’s front door. A Long-tailed Weasel frequented her yard a few winters ago. And as a skilled birder, Joan has welcomed her share of birds to the feeders on the deck. Her latest visitor was bigger than birds. Bear in mind that it came around more than a week ago now. I’ll let Joan, with no cross to bear, take it from here: 

No, he didn’t touch the feeders, though they were out. I was reading indoors and heard a noise on the deck, thinking it was Buddy #3 scratching at the screen for breakfast. What I saw was Mr. Bear, paws up on the railing, licking an already empty feeder tray. Since he was around the corner, I quickly brought in the hanging feeders and got the camera. He dropped down to the deck and peered at me through the glass door. That’s when I took the picture. I clapped my hands and shouted at him, but he just took his time and meandered off. He must be my usual visitor, but grown up. Big!

Buddy #3, by the way, is one of the chipmunks that visits with Joan. Black bears tend to show in June from time to time at Joan’s place. She bears witness to that.

So, how do you know you’re a naturalist? How does one bear down on nature? Simple. When confronted by a black bear, among the first things you do it go for the camera. That’s Joan. The bare essentials. She and I have birded together for more than 15 years. And she’s a damned good cellist for the Vermont Philharmonic. Thanks, Joan! And thanks for being responsible for wildlife by taking in the feeders. Your visitor missed an easy meal. Just barely.


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