WALKING ON THE WILD SIDE
Time to Smell the Flowers -- Black Bear
Time To Smell The Flowers (Black Bear)
Click on the picture to see pricing and sizing options of this limited edition print "Time to Smell the Flowers".
Hard to believe but it was ten years ago in June of 2012 when I was last in Waterton Lakes National Park. The kids were young when my husband planned the family trip to Yellowstone, Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Park. The timing was to arrive in early June to best spot bears as they emerge from their dens. That trip made a lasting impression on all of us with over twenty five bear sightings along with some other fun wildlife finds.
So it is no surprise that after changing careers to become a wildlife photographer five years ago I have returned to many of these same parks. This time as a wildlife photographer using professional camera gear and wildlife photography ethics. While over the last few years I have had success in capturing many amazing fine art prints of wild animals including grizzly bears my black bear pictures were not of the quality I desired. With memories of our fun time in Waterton Lakes where we saw the most black bears on any of our trips, my husband and I eagerly awaited for a return trip which finally happened in June of 2022.
It was our first day in the park when we embarked on an outing in search of black bears. Evening was fast approaching as we drove the roads seeking that first encounter. This is when we were graced by this beautiful “chocolate” colored black bear foraging on a hillside some distance from the road. The setting of yellow wild flowers was the perfect back drop to compose my fine art photo of this beautiful bear in it's natural habitat. While it looks like the bear is preparing to “Smell the Flowers” it is actually deciding which flower to eat as plants are a primary part of their diet.
The question is, does the bear actually smell the flowers? Well a bear's sense of smell is far better than any breed of dog and more than 2,000 times better than our own. This bear would not have only smelled the flowers, but would have smelled them from miles away. An important aspect of survival for black bears is to find large quantities of food during the months they are active. First they have to recover from the previous winter hibernation, then they need to gain weight to prepare for the next winter hibernation. Their heightened sense is their primary tool to find all this food. Do they actually enjoy the smell of the flowers like many humans do? Who only knows... but I like to think they do.
Sugar and Spice (Black Bear)Sugar and Spice (Black Bear) I Smell Human (Black Bear)I Smell Human (Black Bear)
Click on the pictures above to see pricing and sizing options for these open edition prints.
What about their other senses?
Hearing - Bears also have superior hearing to humans. Like dogs, they are sensitive to high-pitched sounds and similar to many other animals, a bear can rotate their ears to locate the source of a sound. What you may have not known is that they can express emotion through the movement of the ears. As a wildlife photographer I have learned to pay close attention to the body language of my subjects. This helps me to gauge if my subject is relaxed and will allow me to take pictures, or if it is agitated and best to be left alone. Sensitivity to an animals level of stress is important both to protect myself and the wildlife when on a photoshoot.
Vision - A bear's eyesight is similar to our own. Just like us they can see in color and can judge the distance of objects.
Touch - Little is known about a bear's sense of touch. What we do know is that they use their paws to manipulate objects big and small. Bears have even been known to open doors so be bear aware when in bear country and secure your food items.
Hope you enjoyed my latest blog and maybe even learned something new about bears. For me it is a continued journey to better understand our "wild neighbors" in order to capture their essence through the lens. I also hope to bring you, my loyal followers, along on my journey.
So until next time, may your love of nature bring you happiness!
Lea Frye - Wildlife Photographer
www.leaf-images.com | Lea Frye, Wildlife Photographer | Helena, MT
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