Sherry Devlin – Missoula Current
A curious, and perhaps hungry, black bear climbed a 25-foot pole and poked its nose into an osprey nest in the Mission Valley early Monday – all while being watched live on an osprey cam.
A male and female osprey repeatedly dive-bombed the bear, frantic to shoo it away from the nest where they were tending three eggs.
After a few minutes, the bear either decided the nesting platform was too far from the pole to safely reach or was deterred by the birds’ defense, and climbed back down.
It could later be seen ambling off into the distance.
The Owl Research Institute shared video from the osprey cam later in the day, prompting an enthusiastic response on social media.
“Grizzly bears are routinely spotted in the valley, although black bears are less common,” the owl institute explained. “This bear is likely wanting to return to its preferred forest habitat in the foothills of the Mission Mountains.”
The Owl Research Institute is located near Charlo and uses remote cameras to share its research sites and habitat work with watchers worldwide.
The osprey cam is shown on explore.org and monitored by Regina Hornung.
“Thanks for sharing my clip, ORI!” Hornung wrote on the institute’s Facebook post. “I can laugh about it now, but when I watched it live, I thought that osprey season 2019 is over! On my YT channel, someone asked, what would have happened if the bear had made it onto the platform? Stuck there? Attacked by Charlie and Charlotte? What a picture!”
(The monitors have nicknamed the osprey parents Charlie and Charlotte.)
Black bears are known to prey on great gray owl nests, the institute reported.
“Two seasons ago, Denver Holt (founder of the Owl Research Institute) was monitoring a Great Gray nest which showed signs of a black bear raid, including scratch marks, fallen bark, egg shells and feathers. He had seen black bears regularly in the area, so believes this is what happened. He thinks it’s not uncommon.”
Certainly, the remote camera gave onlookers quite a fright, as well as a lesson in animal behavior.