BearHead Photography has many images to showcase his expansive portfolio on mammals of North America, and these are his wild Black Bear photos. BearHead Photography specializes in bear photos.
A Bear's Range
Black bears tend to spend the majority of their days in the woods. It's really difficult to find a scene with a black bear where there isn't mostly woods in the picture. It was a real treat watching this bear as it moved by the lake with the mountains surrounding the valley!
Going All Out
When this bear made up its mind on a fish it saw and thought it could catch, it went all out. It would completely lay out and go horizontal with the river. Here it is a split second away from going in the river and catching its fish.
Sometimes I wish I could be a cub and just hang out. I know being a bear cub is not easy and living in nature is difficult. But when you see a cub in a tree hanging over limbs without a care in the world for that moment, it would be nice to also not have a care in the world.
It was awesome seeing this bear go for these salmon. As it was coming down the hill it noticed the salmon close to the shore. Once it saw this it sprinted down the hill and didn’t stop until it dove into the water. The salmon had no idea it was coming and it easily caught a fish.
As mother bear was off fishing, this cub was sitting near the waters edge on a rock. It seemed uncomfortable and not sure if to sit there or run for a tree. As it looked around it had a very soft look to it.
I’m sure the salmon run is an exciting time for bears, but also a frustrating one. The river can be full of fish, but they can be very hard to catch. This bear was looking the salmon over carefully and waiting for its chance for an easy meal.
Salmon run in hundreds of rivers across Alaska and through many different terrains. Black and brown bears head to the rivers while they are running to fatten up for the winter. Black bears are more shy than brown bears and typically avoid other bears. But when the run is so good and so many fish around, they will tolerate other bears presence for a little while.
Running across a black bear this big in the woods is not a fun experience. Most of the time black bears run away from grizzlies, but I wouldn't be surprised if this black bear has scared many grizzlies. With a look like this, I wouldn't want to look it in the eyes.
Black bear cubs make climbing trees look easy. They go up and down and from branch to branch with little effort and little fear. This cub was completely comfortable hanging out in the tree and waiting for its mother to return.
A downed tree can make it much easier for bears and other animals to get places. When a larger tree falls over the river, it is particularly nice for the animals because they don’t have to swim to get across. I saw numerous bears cross the log and even saw some jump from it going after salmon.
Black bears stick mostly to the forests for their food. It is not often they are seen out in the open foraging for food. This bear was eating on the edge of the woods, and I had just enough of an opening to capture the mountains behind him.
When this bear showed up where it did, it surprised me. I didn’t think a bear could get to this rock without swimming to it. But this bear knew a way to it and was able to also surprise some fish by where it was hunting them from.
Sharing the River
When the salmon run in Alaska, any animal that eats meat move to a river. The availability of food is too good to pass up. The bald eagles will wait on the bears to catch the fish and then the eagles will come in and finish off the scraps.
Black bear cubs are such amazing climbers. Not only that but they are completely comfortable in a tree and act as if they aren’t even off the ground and could fall. After walking pretty far out onto this branch, this cub found a good spot for it to lay down and rest.
I’ve seen so many bears shake off from being wet that I’ve lost count. Is it begun to shake a saw a little color, and as it fully shook off a full rainbow appeared. It was incredible seeing a rainbow in this bears water that it was shaking off!
I loved being in a rainforest and photographing bears. The scenery was so different than just a normal forest. The moss covered rocks and how green everything was really brought the landscape to life. I was always on the lookout for a bear moving up stream, and captured this bear as it was walking the shoreline looking for fish.
Salmon are a smart fish. They are able to find there way back to the river they were born in after years of being out to sea. This smartness also means that they know how to get away from predators. As the black bear swam out to the salmon, they just kept going further and further away from it.
Most people know of brown bears in rivers in Alaska fishing. But black bears do it too, and are pretty good at it. Bears like to congregate at little waterfalls where the fish pile up before moving upstream. This bear was patiently waiting for a fish to come close enough to catch.
If I were a bear I would jump in after fish too. The river can be so full of salmon at times that it feels like you could walk across them. Even when it is that full of fish it is still hard for black bears to catch them. They are slippery and smart. This bear was going all out in its attempt to catch a salmon.
Spring cubs are so much fun to photograph each spring. They are new to the world and curious about so much of it. Mother bear had wandered a little far away from these guys, and they took the tree as comfort in case they got scared and could run up the tree.
Bears become very active as the sun goes down. They like the night because it is much cooler and they can move around more. With just a few minutes of light left this bear passed close to me and I tried to get low to capture the mountain in the background.
All black bears can climb trees with ease. A small black bear can even climb to the tops of trees without worrying about the branches breaking. This little bear cub was almost at the top of the tree watching its mother eat down below.
Black bears are a difficult animal to photograph because of how dark their fur is. There are only a few types of light that work well with black bears, and those are usually short periods of the day. Catching this large male in the evening light out of the forest was spectacular.
As mother bear was fishing, this cub was looking around at its new home. There was so much to learn about the area to bother with salmon. A bald eagle caught this cubs attention and it sat close by mother for her protection and watched the eagle.
After standing at the base of the tree and calling to her cubs, with no success, she went up. The cubs seemed to know they were in trouble and moved further up. Mom went as far up as she wanted and let them know it was time to come down. It was neat seeing her climb the tree and be in the tree with her cubs.
Rivers are a busy place in Alaska when salmon start to run. It is the best time of year for the animals to eat and get ready for summer. Both black bears and bald eagles hunt the salmon and can be seen in close proximity along the rivers.
Rainforests are beautiful, but they can be a hard place to photograph because the plants are so tall. Fallen logs offer an opening to see animals, and it was neat to see this mom and cub walk on the log together.
When the salmon are running there is no time to be messing around. When the fish are in the river bears have to take every opportunity they can to catch the fish. As this bear walked the rocks along the shore it was very focused and on a mission to eat.
Black bears spend most of their time in the woods. I can't really go searching in the woods for them, because that is not safe. I saw this large bear coming through the trees and was excited he came out and walked along the edge of the woods so that I could get photos of him.
The cub higher up had been in the tree a while by itself. I don’t know how the cubs got separated, but they were not together for quite some time. When the other cub showed up and climbed the tree, the other cub greeted it with a kiss.
Mother bear went off to fish for salmon and left her cub in the rocks. The cub emerged at some point and looked scared and started calling to its mother. When she heard the call she came running and let the cub know everything was good.
Being in a rainforest I didn’t expect to see the sun very much. When it did come out it really lit up the river and brought everything to life. This black bear was busy walking up and down the river trying to catch salmon on this beautiful day.
Catching this black bear moving from forest to forest was some great timing. He didn't stop but for a couple seconds as he passed through the field, and then disappeared back into the thick forest again.
Black bears tend to stay away from other bears and usually run instead of fight. Fighting is dangerous because if it gets hurt then it might not be able to fatten up for the winter. These two bears were both tired of the other being around and finally fought each other.
After a long nap this cub awoke to being alone. It wasn’t sure where its sibling or mother were and didn’t know where to go. It looked around for them from the safety of the tree and finally found them together down by the waters edge.
Trees grow large in rainforests. There is so much precipitation that the trees can grow faster. Large trees that have fallen can create a roadway through the thick forest. This black bear was taking advantage of one of those trees to move quickly through the forest.
This mother bear was a great mother bear. She seemed to always know where her cubs were and no other bears messed with her. After she had fed her cubs salmon they were thankful and one cub let its mother know that by kissing it.
This was the largest black bear I have ever seen. He moved around as the king and knew he was the biggest bear in the area. When he stood to scratch this tree and let other bears know he was in the area, it was amazing how tall he was and how easily he pulled the tree down.
After spending a week in this area, we got to know and really like this bear. It was a dominant bear that other bears obviously avoided and didn’t mess with. We felt like it was king of the forest and we named it Baloo.
I can only imagine being a bear and seeing hundreds of salmon swimming by and not being able to catch any. It would drive me crazy. Most black bears who jumped in for fish had no clue how to catch the salmon, but their hunger got the best of them and in they went. This black bear was calculated and would only jump when the salmon were close enough to catch.
This was a very comical scene. The younger bear for some reason decided to follow this other bear back and forth on this log. The bigger bear would turn and confront the smaller bear, and then it would run away. Not long after it would be back on the log and getting closer to the other bear. This went on for some time, and eventually the larger bear let the smaller bear get close.
Believe it or not, bear cubs do eventually tun out of energy. They re so fun to watch run around and be rambunctious. But eventually that gives way to being tired and nap time. This cub found a really good spot on a branch under the moss.
One of my favorite times of the year is the salmon run in Alaska. Seeing and photographing the bears catching salmon is a very cool experience. All bears seem to have different strategies when it comes to catching fish. This waterfall presented an obstacle fish couldn’t get up, so they would pile up in this pool. This bear knew it was only a matter of time before it would catch a salmon in this pool.
While mother was trying to rest, her cubs were running around continuously. Young cubs are very playful and have plenty of energy. As another bear began to approach the family, mother woke up and the cubs ran up the tree as fast as they could.
Black bears can come in different colors. It is not rare to see black bears be a cinnamon color, as it is just a gene that causes them to not be black. These two cubs were a different shade of cinnamon, and they really stood out in the forest.
These cubs had lost there mother for a moment and didn’t know where she was. They decided to find an open area, and this rock must have looked like a good spot. It was fun watching them try to balance and not fall off the rock.
Take Off Position
Black bears are not known for their jumping and catching skills. Black bears for the most part sit in a fishing hole and try to snatch salmon swimming up stream. From time to time a few get antsy and jump in, but they are almost always unsuccessful. There was this one bear, and it wasn’t scared to get wet and jump in after the salmon. It was also the black bear we successfully saw catch a fish after jumping in.
A Monster's Edge
Being on a river running with salmon is so much fun. You never know what is going to come out of the woods. I’ve seen some big black bears in my day, but when this guy came out of the woods it was obvious he was the largest black bear I had ever seen.
I was fortunate to get to watch a couple of cubs in this tree on a few occasions. It was always so fun to watch them and see what they would do next. After sitting normal for a while, this cub put its legs on other sides of the branch and balanced on the limb.
This black bear was asleep on these logs for hours. I didn't stay on him, but went and looked for other bears. I had good timing when I cam back because he was just waking up. His stretching was similar to mine after I wake up from a long nap.
A Nervous Look
Black bears are a fairly skittish bear. Even when there is lots of fish around they don’t really congregate but stay to themselves. As this bear was looking for fish a bear above it on the hillside started coming down to the river and it made this bear nervous.
Black bear cubs enjoy climbing trees when they are young. Maybe it is just being young, but maybe it is just so much fun to climb a tree and play tag with your sibling. These two cubs were heading down the tree because their mother had given them the signal to come down.
In the spring is when bears emerge with their cubs. Cubs will wander at times from their mother, but always return to her side for comfort. When mother decides its time to move on, the cubs follow close behind to not get lost.
I search many hours looking for bears, and particularly bear cubs. Shortly after I found this bear, it wasn't really sure of what I was and stood and peered from behind a tree to look at me.
Fishing is not easy for bears, even for this huge black bear. He obviously has eaten plenty of fish over his time, but that doesn’t mean it was easy for him. On this day I saw him deploy numerous strategies trying to catch fish, and and came up empty each time. Here he looks over the river almost in amazement that he hadn’t caught anything yet.
During the fall, nuts and acorns are a black bears favorite food item. They often scavenge them from the ground, but they will climb to find more acorns. This younger bear had climbed to the top of this tree in search of more acorns.
Not Backing Down
Good fishing holes can mean the difference between surviving or not through the winter. Bears want to eat as much salmon as they can while the salmon are running. Bears will not easily give up a good spot, and when a challenger arrived the bear who had been there was not backing down.
Black bears can move miles a day in search of food. In different types of forests, they find different food sources. They don't really get anything in an aspen forest, but I liked the look of the aspen tress with the black bear moving through the grove.
This large black bear was a smart old bear. Anytime it heard a noise it didn't, like it would duck into the thick woods. When it thought the coast was clear it would come back out and eat. A bear this large didn't get this way by being dumb.
The older cubs get, the smarter they get. This mom gave the cubs a signal to not come to her and they listened. It was a good thing they listened because there was another bear not too far away from mom.
Black bears are known for being good climbers, but they don’t climb too often after they are cubs. The bigger they get the harder it gets because of their weight. This mother bears cubs wouldn’t come down, so she went up to get them. She looked tired after getting to them and took a break before going back down.
Black bears will mark trees to let other bears in the area know they are around, and to mark their territory. They do this marking a lot in the spring during the mating season. This bear grabbed the tree as it stood, and it looked as if he was scratching his back like a human in the shower.
It Wasn't Me
I had started to wonder if this cub was ok. Its mother was around fishing, but the cub was nowhere to be found. All of a sudden the cub came out of the woods and ran into the river. When it found its mom, it stood up it surprise like it got caught doing something wrong.
Finding black bears in a rainforest can create a beautiful scene. It’s hard to know where they are coming from because the plants and trees are so thick. But when they pop out on the rocks they become visible and add to the landscape.
If it not often to see a black bear this large. He was considerably larger than any other black bear I saw in this area, or in Canada at all. After scent marking some trees, he opened his mouth and let any bears in the area know that he was king.
One of my goals when we were with the black bears was to get a good shot of a mom and her cubs. In my experiences it has been hard to get a family shot of black bears because they never seem to be close, and if they are there are trees blocking them. When mother bear went and sat on the log and her cubs joined her I got my shot.
Seeing a black bear in the water is unusual. They tend to stand on the rivers edge and try to snatch salmon out with their teeth and not get wet at all. After many unsuccessful attempts, this bear jumped in and started chasing the fish in the bubbly water.
Bears are very good swimmers and have no problem getting wet. When this good sized black bear came to this little stream I figured he would walk right through it. Instead, he decided to jump the 3 feet and try to keep his paws from getting wet.
When black bear cubs are really small, they enjoy climbing trees. These two cubs, particularly, liked to chase each other and play on the larger trees. Not knowing where mother was after playing, they both looked around to try and find her.
For years I have been trying to get a black bear in large rocks. Ever since I saw large rocks in an area and a black bear nearby, I had been hoping to capture that shot. This bear was in a different area than where I originally wanted, but it created the shot I was going for!
Mothers in nature are very caring. This little black bear cub was struggling and scared to come down this little branch. Mother saw the cub, and got up from her nap and went over to the cub. She stood up as high as she could to reach her cub and rescued the cub as the other siblings watched.
The Best Side
It's amazing how an animal knows how to stand when to look the biggest. I followed this bear for a long time, and most of the time it was head on to me and looked moderately big. Once another bear appeared, he turned and looked at the bear and looked drastically larger and let it know he was serious.
It is not very often a black bear walks along a dry river bed. I knew this bear was in the area of the river bed and waited all day in hope that he would walk it. Finally, just before all light was gone, he came out of the woods and moved carefully over the rocks and over this log.
Young cubs need the milk from their mother to survive. This was a very good mother and had caught a few fish this day and shared them with her cubs. But they needed more than the fish and she leaned back at one point and let them suckle.
Cubs on there own are a handful. When mother leaves them and goes fishing they no longer have supervision and can do what they want. The cub in the back was always bothering the other cub and seemed to be challenging it who can climb he tree faster.
This black bear was one of the most successful black bears at catching fish. Often it would take it to the side and eat its catch. It didn’t want to this time and climbed the rocks out its fishing hole and off into the woods.
There was a really neat boulder area where this bear liked to hang out. There was definitely a maze behind the rocks that we couldn’t see because bears would come and go from different spots. This particular bear loved this spot to squeeze out of when he came out.
One of the best defences a black bear cub has when it comes to safety is climbing a tree. If they feel scared in any way they will climb a tree because it is safer in the tree than on the ground. This bear cub had gotten spooked by a branch moving and wanted to make sure it wasn't something else.
When mother bear goes to fish, she leaves her cubs in a safe place. Cubs are curious, though, and don’t always stay where they are suppose to. These cubs did stay where she left them, but they wanted to see her fish without being seen by the other bears.
Black bears can always climb trees. When young, they run up and down the trees at incredible ease. This bear cub was not high off the ground and looking at its mother. Something had scared this cub, and it held on tight to make sure it didn't slide down.
A mother with cubs spends a lot of her time in the woods to stay away from males and for her cubs to have a quick escape up a tree. Most the time she will stay at the base of the tree and guard it. If she gets spooked too, she will climb up with her cubs and protect them if the other bear climbs up.
Black bears can come in different colors. Just because the mother bear is black, doesn't mean the cubs will be. It is a type of gene that creates the color of the bear. Both these new cubs happened to get the cinnamon gene, and were a different color than their mother.
Black bear cubs will find anything they can to fight on. There is no love lost between cubs, that's for sure. It was difficult for these cubs to fight on this tree because it was so small. It wouldn't take much pull and then one cub would fall from the tree to the ground, and then climb back up and try to fight again.
This bear was on the move looking for a mate in the spring. I don't even know how many miles he walked trying to pick up the scent of a female in heat. Once he did, he wandered into the woods and I didn't see him again.
It is hard to understand how small a new black bear cub is until you see one. They're so small it seems like they would fit in the palm of your hand. This little black bear was comparable in height to the new small grass it was standing in.
Black bears can climb trees there whole life. Grizzly bears can as well, but their claws are very different and they have to use their arms to climb the tree instead of their paws. This cinnamon bear just wanted to take a nap and climbed up and found a comfortable branch for an afternoon snooze.
Black bears for the most part appear to not want to get wet. That is confusing because you would think they have to get in the water to catch the salmon. This black bear was getting out of the river and didn’t look too happy about being completely soaked.
Being in a rainforest looking for bears is difficult. The landscape is so lush and the bears blend in well. There were so many times when I would look somewhere and see nothing, but look back just a few seconds later and there was a bear. The bears were very good at blending in and trying to surprise the salmon.