Posts tagged ‘eating’

Grizzly in Golden Light

[Meet Teddy! One of our “co-watchers” said that they had been watching this same male bear for five years…since he was a cub. They nicknamed him “Teddy.”]

The search pattern one develops while looking for wildlife in Yellowstone, is to carefully scan the roadside…not for critters…but for parked cars! A car pulled off to the side of the road usually means there is a critter someone has spotted. One evening, while returning from a trip to the southeast entrance, we saw several vehicles pulled onto the shoulder. We slowed, but assuming it would turn out to be a Bison, we expected to just cruise on down the road…
“Grizzly!” We gushed in unison…a very good find. And the Griz was in beautiful evening light. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the bear was about 170 yards away…a safe distance to be sure, but a little too distant for a straight 400mm lens. Thankfully Ryan (www.irentphoto.com) had loaned me a 500mm f4 lens, onto which, I put a 2x teleconverter. This combo on the 7D created a 1600mm lens equivalent (Some of the video was shot with TWO 2x teleconverter, AND a 1.4x teleconverter, creating a 4480mm lens!! Not the sharpest video in the world..but useable.)


As is often the case with Yellowstone Grizzlies, this bear was so intent on feeding that he rarely even stuck his head up for more than a few seconds every few minutes. He was actively digging for tubers…and with winter coming on fast, he had no time to lose in fattening up.

Here’s a video of “Teddy” the Grizzly digging tubers…Not very exciting but this is what Grizzlies do 90% of their waking time…EAT! Especially important since he would soon be going down for a long winter’s snooze.
What is the diet of a 300lb. to 600lb. male Grizzly in Yellowstone? According to the park’s website…”From September through October, whitebark pine nuts are the most important bear food during years when seeds are abundant (Mattson and Jonkel 1990). However, whitebark pine is a masting species that does not produce abundant seed crops every year. Other items consumed during fall include: pond weed root, sweet cicely root, bistort root, yampa root, strawberry, globe huckleberry, grouse whortleberry, buffaloberry, clover, horsetail, dandelion, ants, false truffles, and army cutworm moths. Some grizzly bears prey on adult bull elk during the fall elk rut.” So Teddy was likely digging for either yampa root, bistort root or sweet cicely root.

Timber Wolf eating deer video

The trip to daycare is never dull…okay, most of the time it’s pretty dull. Birk and Bjorn stay pretty quiet as long as I have the radio tuned to WNCB Christian hit radio and keep tossing fishy crackers, granola bar bits, or whatever edible thing I find in the Subaru’s crevices into the back seat. But today, we didn’t get more than a mile from home when I saw a mammal in a hayfield. It was a long ways out, but at first glance I thought it was a Coyote. But it looked too bulky.


I had taken Bridget’s car this morning and so I didn’t have my camera along (Rule #1 of wildlife photography: ALWAYS have your camera in your car!). Fortunately Bridget did have her binoculars under the car seat and I was able to get a good look at the mystery animal. I put them up to my eyes and found myself staring into the distinctive face of a Timber Wolf! So I told the boys to “hang on!” and back we raced to the house. I nabbed my camera and tripod and sped back.

The wolf wasn’t there! I scanned the field cursing my lack of preparation when I spotted him, closer to the road now. He was laying down and gnawing on a deer carcass. I imagine he was able to kill the deer last night and just lingered on feasting until morning (it was past 8:30 am by now). I was filming in plain view but he gave me few glances. Wolves can only be confused with Coyotes under the worst conditions or at very long distance. Wolves are much bulkier, longer-legged, and lope with a loose-jointed gait. Their head is blockier and they often show white rings around the eyes. Wolves also lack the extensive red of some Coyotes and may be very white or very black (Coyotes don’t show this pelage variation).

I walked another 50 feet closer. He seemed undaunted but finally got up and without effort snapped a deer leg off to take with him (the original “take out” meal). He loped across the field and stopped near the tree line to take one last look at the man who interrupted his meal.

Back at the car, the troops were doing fine after about 20 minutes left to entertain themselves (I was always within sight of the car). I managed to find a bag with some mini rice cakes with chocolate drizzle, and these served as a fine treat for a very patient 3-year old and very tolerant 17-month old.

Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 and stacked 2x and 1.4x teleconverters, tripod.
The use of 2 teleconverters is not recommended for still photography except in occasions where it’s better to have a record photo rather than no photo at all. You lose quite a bit of sharpness and contrast. You can get away with it more easily in video though, where your filming at 1/60 second.]
[Photo is a single frame plucked from the video (1920x1080pixels).]