BearHead Photography has many images to showcase his expansive portfolio on mammals of North America, and these are his wild Brown Bear photos. BearHead Photography specializes in bear photos.
Coming at You
When brown bears are fishing they can become very excited and chase any fish they see. This brown bear was patrolling the river all afternoon when a salmon got stuck in shallow water near where I was standing. She turned immediately when she saw this and bolted like a freight train after that salmon. She had every determination to catch that fish, and she was successful.
Grand Prize Winner National Geographic Photo Contest
Grizzly bear cubs are very playful when they are young. These cubs had been rolling around, and when they finished the one cub stood up and put its paws together.
Highly Honored Photograph Natures Best Photography Competition
Mother bear bent this tree down and used it to rest on. The tree made for a great jungle gym for the cubs to play on too. After they were done playing, they came next to mom and leaned over the tree branch all at once.
The Wild Coast
In Alaska you just never know what you might encounter with wildlife. There is such great diversity, and the animals are in numerous areas. Once this bear noticed the bald eagle had a fish, it went over to investigate. The eagle had eaten all it wanted and flew over the bear as it went to rest and digest its meal.
Rise and Shine
Bears are just like humans when they wake up from a nap, groggy. This bear family had a good rest on the tidal flats, and were woken by the rising tide. They weren't ready to get up yet, but had to. The two cubs clung to their mother and wanted more rest, but mom knew better because of the rising tide.
In the summer in Alaska, the nights just turn dusky and not all the way dark. It was nearly 11 p.m. when I spotted this mother and her 4 cubs for the first time. I was getting ready for bed, but that quickly changed and I hurried to find them again. They were moving down the lake shore looking for salmon to fish for. It was my very first time ever seeing a mother and 4 cubs, and having them all walk in a line on the lake shore sure made my night a lot better.
Going for a Ride
When cubs are real young, it is somewhat common for them to latch onto mom while she is swimming. This little cub was tired of walking in the grass and decided to climb onto mom as she moved around and save its energy.
There are too many times to count when I had a great setting with wildlife, but no light. Having both come together perfectly on this morning was a dream. As I ran to the stream, hoping they would cross in the perfect morning light, I waited only briefly before they decided to cross. The morning light, reflection, and mountains made for a dramatic backcountry Alaskan scene.
We found this bear taking a nap on the beach. We slowly approached, and it kept sleeping for a long time. When it began to wake up, it stretched its legs and sprawled out. For just a brief moment it brought its head down to its paws, and looked like a human relaxing on the beach. This type of look you don't see from bears very often at all!
There were only a couple of bears that fished on Brooks Falls that were fast enough to catch salmon that did not jump right to them. This bear was probably the most successful bear at catching salmon that there was. As this salmon tried to sneak by, at the last second the bear turned its head and that salmon was caught.
When salmon really start to push up the river, bears start to show up from everywhere. Salmon are high in protein, and every bear wants to eat salmon. Congregations like this do not happen very often, but when they do bears tolerate each other fairly well because there is such a large supply of food.
Adolescent bears are at the bottom of the totem pole in a bears world. Bears don't like being chased or harassed, so when they see another younger bear they try to be dominate over that bear because they are tired of getting pushed around. Neither of these bears were giving up ground, and growled and fought back against the other.
This bear family was resting quietly on the shore of the river, when across the river another bear started to chase a fish. This startled the bear family and they woke up. They decided to sit there and watch the bear fish, and make sure that it did not come their direction. The bears stayed close, so in case they had to leave they knew where each other was.
Grizzly bear cubs depend solely on their mother for protection and food. Walking the river can be a scary place for a cub, with so many males around at times. Unsure of a bear approaching, this cub crawled under its mother and watched from her protection.
Grizzly bears normally have between 1 and 3 cubs. 4 cubs can happen, but is really rare. This mother had her hands full caring for all of her cubs, and the cubs would closely follow her as she moved around looking for salmon.
Under the Rainbow
Bears can sleep for large portions of the day. It is exhausting chasing after fish in the river. Once they get full, they will head off to take a nap and recharge for the next try at catching fish. While this bear was taking a nap, a large rainbow formed behind him.
The contrast in the bright red fish and the dark bear is terrific. You can see in the fish's eyes that it knows it is doomed. Many of the fish that bears catch are not this bright and colorful. This bear is happy about its catch and ready to eat.
Being a bear mother can be a tough time. Constantly having to watch over her little cubs, and still get enough food to feed herself and them is very tiring. The cubs would sometimes play on this log, but it looked like a nice pillow to this mom on this occasion. I'm sure she wanted a peaceful sleep to herself, but her cubs came over and joined her far a nap on the log.
Standing on Mom
It is not a common sight to see a cub on its mother's back. This cub had climbed up while eating grass, and still had some in its mouth. Mother bear didn't seem to mind as its cub moved on her back.
Watching young bear cubs play never gets old. They have the protection of mother, and act as if there is nothing in the world that could bother them. They have such a great time and really play when they are young. These two cubs were usually really close to each other, and both wanted to take a look to see where mother was before playing some more.
Hold On Tight
It is very uncommon for grizzly bear cubs to be on their mothers back. These cubs had gotten scared a day earlier in water, and they didn't want to have that happen again. So as mother got up from feeding them, they hung on tight and rode on her back as they left the tidal flats and the incoming tide.
A mother bear with young spring cubs has to be very careful. Other bears will try to get her cubs if they can to try and re-mate with her. Any bear, though, poses a threat to the safety of her cubs. When this mother bear saw a bear coming closer, she stood to get a better look and her cubs wanted to see what scared her as well.
Young bears are often appealing to look at. They have nice round faces and are very playful and cuddly. When this young bear turned around in the grass to look back at its sibling, it actually looked like a stuffed teddy bear.
In Her Arms
After nursing her cubs, this exhausted mother laid down for a nap. As she was about to fall asleep, one cub came and curled up with her. As she put her head back down, only the cubs head was sticking out between her head and arm, and I'm sure the cub was comfortable in her moms arms.
I Mean Business
During the fishing season for salmon, Alaskan brown bears are very serious. They know this is the best time to fatten up to survive the long winter, and it is key to their survival to eat as many fish as possible. With another bear approaching this bears fishing hole, it stood to let them know not to mess with her.
This was this bear families first time out on the tidal flats. It was neat watching the three cubs experience and check out their new world. They would only get so far from mother, though, before running back to her.
As a fish is about to go past this bear it does everything it can to not let that happen. Salmon are extremely fast swimmers, so this bear had to lay out where it thought the salmon would be when it finished jumping. This is a last ditch effort to try and catch the salmon.
Denali is a park with over 6 million acres of protected land. There are only around 300 grizzly bears in the park, due to how hard it is to survive there. On a clear day, a grizzly bear roams the open tundra looking for berries in the fall.
In Alaska, June and July is when bears mate. They don't have a long time to mate, and therefore the fighting can be intense for the right to mate. This was a male and female arguing, and the female wasn't ready to mate. Shortly after this photo they took off in a big chase.
With mother not being right beside the cubs, they had to look out for themselves. They were on high alert to anything and would stand if they heard anything at all. Finally, something made them all stand and look my direction at the same time and it was perfect.
Look What I Can Do
These cubs were so much fun to watch and play. It always seemed as if the other was trying to one up the other. After its sibling had stood up, this cubs stood up and waved while its sibling watched on.
Bears have many techniques for catching salmon. Some bears chase fish in the shallow areas, some jump from the banks, and some wait for the salmon to come to them. This male bear stood perfectly still for a long time, and was rewarded when a salmon came right to him.
This One's Mine
When there is a strong push of fish up Brooks River it makes it much easier for the bears to catch fish. Only four or five times during the salmon run did a large push up the river occur. This bear continually missed fish, but so many were jumping it was bound to catch one. A fish finally jumped right to it and it had its next meal.
Denali is such an amazing park because of the diversity and amount of beautiful land it holds. Animals have miles and miles of amazing territory to call their home. This bear couldn't have chosen a better home, in my opinion, because he had mountains, lakes, and endless berries to feed on. Denali is a special place.
First Beach Walk
Seeing brown bear cubs in the spring is always a thrill. The cubs are small and new to the world and playful and cute. After spending a number of days in the place, it was special to see this family on its first walk of the beach and see how interested the cubs were to explore their new world.
In the summer in Alaska fish migrate back to their home river to spawn. Watching thousands of fish move upstream is an amazing sight. Once the fish turn red they are normally already where they need to be to spawn. It was very rare to see a red fish jump at the falls.
When cubs are in their second year, they can be very fluffy. They look very different than when they were in their first year. These cubs had been playing for a long time, and then realized mother wasn’t nearby. So they stood to see where their mother had gone.
In Yellowstone, the best time to see bears is in the spring after they come out of hibernation. They will come down to the valleys to feed while the mountains are still covered in snow. The large bears will only hang out for a short time before heading back up the mountain. This bear was so large it looked as if he was the protector of the geysers.
Sunrises in Alaska can be spectacular. On this morning it wasn't that early in the morning, the light was just spectacular later on. As this mom and cub moved around, the light made everything glow.
The scenery along the Alaskan coast is beautiful. When a couple of bears are walking the beach with distant mountains behind them, it doesn't get much better.
It is not very often that a morning is as nice as this morning was. Bears are often out on the tidal flats digging for clams in the morning, it is just not often than the morning is exceptionally nice. As the sun began to come over the horizon it was very difficult to look at the bear because of the sun. In my eyes the scene did not look like this, but being able to adjust the camera settings I was able to capture this peaceful scene on a beautiful morning.
Alaskan rivers are not warm at all. They are mostly fed from snow melt and most rivers never get above 45 degrees. As this bear steps in the water it is not what it expected. It was testing out the water and it did not like what it felt.
Animals tend to move more in the early morning and late afternoon. Finding animals right as the sun is rising is difficult though. There are only a few minutes when the light turns everything pink, and I'm rarely in position for those perfect few minutes. My day was made after only a few minutes into it when I was able to get this mother crossing a stream at first light.
Where better in nature to take a nap than on a log. This bear family was obviously tired, and they all decided this log looked like the perfect place for a nap. The year prior, I had actually gotten this exact family on this log sleeping together, except they were all right beside each other. It was very neat seeing them a year later sleeping on the exact same log.
After digging in an old stump and uprooting some ants, this bear wanted to taste its paws. After trying to do that while still on all fours, it decided to stand and taste them. Right after standing it brought its paws together like it was praying and started licking its paws.
After being in a fresh water stream a little while, sockeye salmon start to turn red. They no longer eat, and begin their last journey of their life. They are not as quick anymore, and bears can catch them more easily without burning lots of calories chasing them.
The Alaskan shore line is very large. It goes for miles, and offers animals a different food source when the tide is out. This grizzly bear walked along as the sun poked through the clouds.
Many times when a bear has an unsuccessful chase of a salmon, they stand up almost in disbelief. The bear is trying to get a better view of where that fish could have possibly gone. If a bear does not stand up in the creek it is as if they did not believe they could catch the salmon. A standing bear in the creek is a determined bear, and the early morning light made its fur look the same color as the beach.
When bear cubs are young they are unpredictable. They move around and play as often as human kids do. As this family was eating, this cub decided to stand up and show off.
Cub are the most fun to watch, because they are unpredictable. This 3rd year grizzly bear cub was eating grass and not doing anything photogenic. Then, all of a sudden, it bragged the branch and leaned back and was being very playful and cute with the branch.
Following a mother with 4 spring cubs was an amazing experience! The cubs followed mother closely as she moved around looking for fish down below. As another bear walked the river, it caught all of their attentions and they stopped and watched it.
After waking up from their nap, mother bear quickly moved on across the river. After stumbling up to the river, it took the cubs a while to decide to cross. After one cub finally jumped in, the other 2 followed closely by. They swam as fast as they could across the river to catch up with mother.
Searching for Clams
Grizzly bears use their nose to search and find clams in the tidal flats. On a clear morning, this blonde bear was giving it one last try before the rising tide would push her to shore.
Young bears are playful and curious. When this grizzly bear saw this set of moose antlers, it had likely never seen antlers before by the way he played with them. It was very curious and didn't know what to make of the antlers. Watching it bite them and move them around was fun to watch.
The beach is a great way to travel a large distance. It is easy to navigate, and bears can see a long way. As this family was moving down the beach, another bear family caught their attention, and they stopped to see where they would go.
On a Mission
Bears can be intense when chasing fish, but once they catch a fish they become even more intense. The want to make sure that they are the only one eating that salmon after working hard to catch the salmon. Only seconds after catching this salmon, the bear took off toward shore to make sure no one was following.
An Early Walk
In the Alaskan summer, the sun is up for most of the day. Once September comes, though, it gets darker by 5 minutes every day. The bears still move around the same for the most part, it is just scarier trying to find them in the dark. As the sun began to rise this bear was patrolling the beach hoping to find a fish carcass that had washed up in the night.
Let Me See
This bear family was taking a nap when a noise awakened them. They were still groggy and didn’t want to get up. The cub in the back tried and tried to poke its head between its sibling and mom, but they didn’t let it.
It took me years and years to find a bear sleeping on a log, and then in the past couple of years I have been fortunate to get to see it a few times. Watching this bear family as they moved and re-situated to get comfy on the log was quite the site. But once they found there spot the fell asleep and looked comfortable.
Don't Come Any Closer
When fish make it to the rivers in Alaska, the bears no longer care about any other food source. They know that the fish is what will fatten them up enough to survive the long winter. After missing a fish, this bear stood to see where it went and to alert other bears to not mess with him.
King of the River
Bear poses like this are a sign to other bears, do not come into my area. This was one of the largest bears who came to the river to fish, and he did not like to be bothered when he was fishing. If a bear came into his territory, he quickly learned to not make that mistake again.
When something surprised these brothers they stood to see what it was. One brother ran to the other and then they stood up. After a long stand, and not quite what to do, they got down and ran some more.
Once the tide goes out, the creek becomes very shallow where it empties into the ocean. In the salmon's excitement of running away from the bear it lost track of where it was and swam into a real shallow area. As the bear closes in to grab it, the salmon swims harder but to no avail. This bear will have dinner tonight.
Even though this cub was right beside mother, it was still scared. There was a bear across the river from them, and the only thing the cub could think to do was cover its eyes. The other bear did not do anything because mother was there and the cub should have been comforted by that.
Seeing brown bears for the first time is always exciting! Each spring we wait in anticipation to see if any new spring cubs will arrive. When they first do it is very exciting because they are so small and playful. This moment was only five minutes after I found this mother bear for the first time, and her cub stayed close for comfort.
In the open tundra of Denali, it is difficult to find a good angle to photograph a grizzly bear. Short of a close up shot, creating a dramatic photo is difficult. When I saw this bear going along this ridge, I hurried to get in position to capture it with the snow capped mountain behind him.
Where are You
Baby grizzly bears are very playful and full of energy. This cub and its sibling had been playing for hours, and finally stopped. After laying in the grass a while, this cub sat up and began licking his paws, and curiously looking over at its sibling.
In many years of watching bears, I haven't come across three cubs that often. When I do get to photograph three cubs, it normally is two out of the three playing, and rarely all three together. When these cubs began running my way and all three were playing chase, it made for an exciting and rare moment.
When bears are younger, they give off a lot of energy playing and fighting with their sibling. When they stop playing, they look pretty tired and sometimes immediately take a nap. This bear wasted no time and went up on the log, found a comfy spot, and went to sleep.
When cubs don't have any siblings, their mothers have to play with them to get some of their energy out. This mother and cub were very playful and seemed to have a great time playing. The cub taps the mother on the nose to let its mother know it is having a good time
Fish do not jump up the falls every minute. It takes patience to be able to catch a fish on top of the falls. This mother bear decided to teach her cubs about patience, and took them to the falls. It was amazing to watch them all stand there so still waiting on a fish to jump.
Bears chase each other often for a fresh salmon, it is just normally in the opposite direction from me. The bear that caught the fish was so surprised to see this bear running at it, that it took off immediately in the direction it was facing. They came charging right by us and kept going without even pretending we were there. Nothing can get in the way of hungry bears.
A mother bear and cub relationship varies depending on the bear. This mother would let her cubs play, but would often jump in at the end and have fun with her cubs. They were a really fun family to watch, and were always playing around.
When a bear only has one cub, it is up to her to play with her cub and prepare it for fights with other bears. In its third year, she had taught the cub well and was trying to push it off of her during a serious play fight.
These mothers were at the mouth of the river hunting for salmon a distance apart. Some eagles and sea gulls began making a lot of noise, and it caught their attention. They both went to investigate, and their cubs were right behind them as they went.
Bears will stand against a tree for a couple of reasons. They might just have an itch and need a good scratch. A big reason they do, though, is to mark their territory and let other bears know that this is their home.
Sub adult bears are learning their rightful place in the hierarchy of bears. I suspect these young bears were siblings that recognized each other, and began lightly playing with each other. It was fun watching these bears play for fun for a long time.
You just never know what you will encounter when traveling. Nothing like a huge surprise to see a grizzly bear standing over a black bear right off the highway. I didn't get to see it happen, but from looking at the scene it was obvious the grizzly bad taken the black bear down.
These young grizzly bears were likely siblings. When I found them, they were rolling and rolling around. They were just having the best time playing on the snow.
When cubs get out of sight of mom, the mom becomes worried quickly. She could not see her cubs anywhere and stood up on the beach to find out where they were.
Before the sun rises is always a great time to see wildlife. Usually they are moving around in search of food before the day comes. The mountains are 55 miles across the water and are only visible on the clearest of days. It was not long before the sun came up that this bear started scanning the tidal flats looking for clams as the sky was reflected in the shallow water.
Grizzly bear cubs have it made in Alaska. They get to live in a great spot, and their mother watches out for them and feeds them. This mother caught wind of another bear, and stood to see if she could see it. The cubs just kept eating and had no idea they were potentially in danger.
A mother bear usually doesn’t keep her cubs past the second year, but this mother was holding on to her cubs. She had just finished nursing them and they all rolled over to take a nap.
Patience is not the best virtue for most bears. The first fish they see they usually go after. This bear, on the other hand, had been standing still for over 30 minutes just waiting for the right fish to come by.
It is hard to describe just how expansive Denali is unless you have seen it. The landscape is very deceptive in how large it is. This bear family was feeding on the carcass in the evening and blended in so well to the landscape as the sun set.
Nothing gets a bear excited more than a struggling salmon. Bears will run great distances for a salmon. No matter how much energy they expend to get to the salmon, as long as they catch the salmon it is worth it. This bear had to deep of water to go through, but it gave a valiant effort.
This was the first time I saw these bears that summer. They were coming from digging for clams and the rising water had gotten to the cubs. This cub climbed on to survive the water, and looked back at its sibling to make sure it knew he was on mother.
When bears are young, they are exploring the world and figuring everything out for the first time. This cub wanted to see around its mother and see what she was looking at.
In Alaska, the tides come and go twice daily up to over 25 feet. Alaska has the 2nd largest tides in the world, and when the tide is out bears can go out in certain areas and dig for clams. This family decided to go dig for clams on a perfect evening in Alaska.
Grizzly bear cubs will be nursed by their mother for the first two years. When they are real young, they get nursed a few times a day. Mother bear doesn't always want to nurse and will move away from them. After enough whining, she normally gives in, even if she has to lay in water.
I'm Bigger Than I Look
When a bear begins to feel threatened or another bear enters its territory, it wants to find out which bear it is. Standing up not only allows the bear to see better, but it lets the other bear see it. If the other bear continues to come at that point there will more than likely be an altercation, but usually the other bear will leave the area.
Most of the area surrounding Haines is considered a rainforest. It is a very wet place that sees more rain than sun in the summer. These bears were soaking wet from the rain as they walked the river looking for salmon.
In the summer in Alaska the sun rises very early. It is often hard to get out of bed at such an early time. Bears know they only have a few short months to feed, so they don't sleep for long periods of time, but rather naps. This bear was out on the tidal flats looking for clams as a beautiful sunrise happened over the ocean.
Bears favorite fishing spots are sacred places. The most dominant bears get the best places, and the other bears wait for them to leave so that they can catch some fish. Bears are not social creatures and only tolerate other bears in such close proximity when there is a large food source. Even with most bears obeying the social hierarchy, there are still fights for the best fishing holes.
I tried to watch these two cubs as much as possible. They were the most playful spring cubs I had ever seen. They would chase each other around and around, and then start pushing each other around. It was a never ending game.
While these cubs were playing, mom went and defended them. Another bear had come to close and the cubs watched as she scared the other bear off.
Getting up close and personal with grizzly bears is not the smartest of ideas. As this bear approached, I focused on its head and was able to capture the intensity of a bear.
I Want to See
When grizzly cubs are born, they stay in the den for almost three months before venturing out into the world. They are still very small and stay close to their mother. This grass was not very tall, but when this cub heard a noise it had to stand to see what it was.
When bears come out of hibernation it is still cool out. It is early spring, and winter hasn't fully decided to leave yet. It is not that uncommon to see bears out in the spring and it snowing at the same time.
When the tides are right the bears have to fish, no matter what time of day it is. These bears were all fishing on the creek when something down the shore caught their attention. At once they all headed down the beach to check out what had caught their attention. Something big had to have happened for all of them to stop fishing and migrate down the beach.
Denali is a difficult place to photograph bears. Yes there are a decent amount of bears in the park, but the land is so huge that they are often far away. We waited and watched as this family moved up a small river drainage our direction, and then got together when a noise in the bushes alerted them.