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We live in a suburban town in Massachusetts, Northeast United States.

We keep a lot of bird feeders stocked all year with things birds and animals like, excluding meat and fruit.

Yesterday, October 23, 2018, we woke up to find almost all the feeders knocked over. Some were pulled out of the ground, and two were pulled down from the wire attaching them to a tree branch above. As you can see in the third picture, whatever it was did not climb the tree to get to the food on it which is not very high up, and did not disturb the bird bath by that tree.

We'd like to know what animal would do this.

We've watched raccoons tip over small feeders, but have never seen the larger feeders brought down, especially all at once.

The only thing we can think of is a bear. They're uncommon in our town, but are getting more prevalent, possibly due to local habitat loss. Massachusetts only has one breed of bear, the American black bear, Ursus americanus, so that's what it would be. We didn't find scat or footprints. (The ground is probably too frozen for footprints.)

Here are some before and after pictures: (I love the blue jay in flight in the second picture!)

Before 5277 Before5270

After from tree side 5277 After Facing towards tree 5238 After standing back 5225

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Bears will definitely go smashing bird feeders to get to the seed and they are the only thing big enough to pull your feeders over.

Yes, bears (and other wildlife) are readily attracted to back yards because of the presence of bird feeders. Bear nuisance complaint records reveal that at certain times of the year, bird feeders are involved in over 80% of the bear problems around homes. The situation often escalates to other unnatural food sources such as garbage cans, barbeque grills, and compost piles as bears become bolder and more acclimated to people. Such activities are not in the best interest of the bears or the homeowners.

Bears and Bird Feeders

Apparently the only good solution is to remove the feeders, although you could put up electic fence around them.

  • Thanks for the answer. It confirms what we were guessing. I still think it's strange that he didn't climb the tree to get that food, because I thought that was typical bear behavior. Maybe he didn't need it. We'd never put up an electric fence anywhere, though I can see why people do it. There's good additional information in that link. Part of it says the bears usually leave by November 30th, so we only have a month to go. Hopefully he'll stay safe until hibernation time! – Sue Oct 23 '18 at 22:17
  • @Sue if you are not going to use an electric fence notice that the link also says "DEC highly recommends that bird feeding activities cease by April 1 and resume Nov 30 if you live in bear country." – James Jenkins Oct 24 '18 at 15:45
  • Deer are also large enough to knock feeders over. – Matthew Gauthier Oct 29 '18 at 11:48

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