‘Bill Lea Photography’ Nature Photographer and Black Bear enthusiast

I’m a fan of Bill Lea’s photography because his work gives the viewer a look into the life of North American Black Bears. Here is the link to his website http://billlea.com bill Lea also maintains a facebook site full of information, bear stories and photographs https://www.facebook.com/BillLeaPhotography/info?tab=page_info 

The following is from Bill Lea’s Facebook site posted on July 26, 2015

Mother bears are very selective as to where they spend the night in the forest when they have small cubs. They usually bed down at the base of a large tree and they send their cubs up the tree to sleep on branches high atop the tree. The mother bear will usually select tree species that have a deeply furrowed bark like a large white pine tree or a big yellow poplar tree. The tiny cubs can easily grab tight onto the bark of such trees. A smooth-barked tree, like a beech tree, is normally avoided because it would be much harder for a cub to grasp and climb.

The mother bear often scrapes out a little basin shaped bed at the base of the tree where she will sleep, often curled-up in kind of a ball – like a dog might do. The cubs often sleep on stouter, horizontal branches high in the tree, where they are safe from predators. Such trees are often referred to as escape trees, refuge trees, or safety trees. With mom at the base of such trees, no predator will slip by her to get to the cubs and she also has a large, stout tree to climb herself if she feels threatened.

Over the years I have noticed some mother bears prefer to sleep at the base of such trees, but with their cubs tightly up against them or even almost under them at times. If mom startles during the night due to danger of some kind, the cubs know to quickly climb the tree to safety. I often wonder if such moms just prefer the loving contact of their cubs versus having the cubs sleep way up the tree, which is probably a little safer for the cubs. I have often observed from a distance a mother bear sleeping with her cubs at the base of a big white pine. It is a wonderful experience to watch a little family slowly wake up to begin a new day. It is almost always one of the cubs who will awaken first. Often he or she will yawn and stretch just as the little cub is doing in tonight’s photo. Oftentimes the cubs will play and wrestle a little bit as mom tries to catch a few extra winks. I don’t imagine she sleeps that sound during the night as she watches for potential threats to her babies. I cannot think of a better way for my day to start than to watch a mother bear and her little ones start their brand new day!

From Bill Lea’s facebook site July 24, 2015

We have been posting bear images almost every day since we started this Facebook Page on October 28, 2014. Many of you have seen a lot of different bear photos over the last almost 9 months. It seems recently we have been starting to receive more and more comments from folks who are now beginning to see how different each bear looks. We used to be frequently asked, “How in the world can you tell the bears apart?” Now many of you are seeing for yourselves the difference between each bear, just from the photos. But I must admit, it is even easier to identify them in person because you recognize their unique personalities along with their individual looks. It just makes it so much easier when you see them in person.

When visitors at the Sanctuary used to ask us how we are able to tell the bears apart we would answer, “We have been living with the bears for so long that they all look different to us, but you people have started looking a lot alike to us lately!”

Every bear truly looks and acts different from the next bear – they are all as unique in looks and personality as we humans are. We share so much in common with bears!

From Bill Lea Facebook post July 24, 2015

The following photographs are from Bill Lea Facebook site.  

 For more information on Bill Lea’s work with North American Black Bears got to https://www.facebook.com/BillLeaPhotography/timeline?ref=page_internal


One Reply to “‘Bill Lea Photography’ Nature Photographer and Black Bear enthusiast”

  1. So interesting about the bears! The photos are beautiful. I will let my grandkids read this. Thank you!

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