BearHead Photography New Photos
BearHead Photography has many images to showcase his expansive portfolio on mammals of North America, and these are his newest images.
Ready to Pounce
I had seen this lynx just briefly as it crossed an opening and then disappeared. I wanted to find it again, but finding lynx is a very difficult task even if you know exactly where they are. After searching a while, I decided to try one more area, and as I walked around a tree our eyes met. It was an incredible feeling! Thankfully the lynx just sat there and looked at me and didn’t run away. Seeing a lynx’s eyes looking at you in the forest is just incredible!
I watched as this lynx went into the woods, and I hoped it would stop and give me a chance for more photos. I could just see its ears in the woods, and I wanted it to come back out so badly. I waited, and slowly it came out more and more and sat down and watched from the edge of the woods. The light slowly moved down and when it lit the lynx up, I had a shot I never thought I would get.
Seeing any baby animal is exciting. They are often very playful and also very cute. Finding a new lynx kitten, and getting a photo of it, surpassed all my other animal baby encounters. It had such large feet for its small body, and was so curious and small. When it stopped for a moment and looked my way, it took everything in me to keep my camera steady.
Lynx are one of those animals that I am just happy to get to photograph in any situation. They are so hard to find, and any moment with a lynx is a great moment. Photographing this lynx in the different colors of fall had me pinching myself to make sure it was actually happening.
When we first encountered the wolf pups they were a ways away, but I was still happy. Then they closed the distance in half, and then they came even closer. They were indifferent to us being there, and went about playing and being pups. They got tired after a while and laid down for a small break.
On our first day with the pups we only heard the adults and didn’t get to see them. We knew they were around, but they didn’t show themselves. The next day the alpha female wolf went onto a riverbed and the pups followed. Comparing the pups size with their mother for the first time really showed us how young they were.
Seeing just one wolf pup was a real treat. But slowly another and then another, and a while later even another wolf pup cam out. It was amazing having four wolf pups so close and them behaving so wild and calm and being pups and playing with sticks.
Wolf pups depend on the adults for food. They are too young to go out and hunt for themselves. The pups have to lick the adults face to get them to regurgitate food. The two pups closest to the adult most have been the hungriest because they were so excited and jumping over each other to lick the adults face.
When photographing wildlife its nice to be able to get a clean background behind the animal so that it is not distracting. I really didn’t think I would get that chance with the wolf pups. To my great surprise, this pup stopped close enough to me in the right spot to allow me to get the shot I wanted!
Watching and waiting on wolf pups was truly an amazing experience! At first there was one, then there was two, and then a third one popped its head out of the woods. After a quick greeting, the wolf pups walked in our direction! It was so neat to have them move to us and not away.
As the wolves moved across the dry river bed, I was really hoping to be able to get a shot of them all together. It was hard because the pups were rarely all at the same place at the same time. Finally, the moment came when they were close enough to each other and I got my family shot!
Wolves are either on the move or resting. There doesn’t seem to be much in-between. We had named this pup roamer because it was always on the go and appearing in different areas. I managed to catch it walking the tree line as it went on one of its walks.
I love finding moose in the backcountry of Denali. Being out there in the quiet with a huge animal is exciting to me. This moose was nice enough to stand near the high point of the ridge to showcase the dramatic mountains behind him.
Out of the Clouds
I’ve spent many years in the backcountry of Denali searching for and photographing moose. The ultimate goal was to find a bull moose and photograph it with Denali in the background. I’ve seen the mountain and moose, but never in a good opportunity for photos. When the mountain began to come out of the clouds, I prayed the moose would stay by the pond long enough to capture it with Denali in the background.
There are shots you dream of and say,”If only a moose would be right here".” I’ve lost count on how many times and in how many places I have said that for a shot I wanted. This was one of those moments when I had said this for a few years, and when I saw this large bull moose walking in the fall tundra in front of Denali I captured a shot I had been dreaming about.
There are moments when photographing when everything comes together, and it makes you forget all the other moments. Even though the other moments make up 95% of the time, it is that 5% that keeps me going. Ever since I came to Denali in 2008, I have been trying to get a bull moose in a pond with Denali in the background. I didn’t think it was going to happen on this night, but the clouds opened enough and all those years of waiting paid off!
Bald eagles take advantage of any opportunity to eat fish. Many of the fish are to large for the eagles to carry away, so they must wait on bears or other animals to eat some of the fish first. This eagle saw its opportunity and swooped in snag some fish.
Watching a bald eagle catch a fish is amazing. The skill and speed needed to catch a salmon out of the water is impressive. This bald eagle decided to land on a large rock in front of a waterfall to eat its catch.
Great horned owls are a very large owl. If you get to see them fly they can make you feel very small. I was fortunate to find one owl in this fall tree, when another owl came and landed beside it. It was incredible getting to photograph these two great horned owls resting in this fall aspen tree!
A bald eagles wingspan can be greater than 7 feet. They are a beautiful bird and a very graceful soarer. When a fish below caught this eagles attention, it made a sharp turn to head to the river.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most of the time whale watching humpback whales is seeing their tail before they dive. Just seeing that is neat because of how large they are. Every once in a while they jump and show just how large they are. Capturing this is hard because it is often unexpected and over in just a few seconds, but it so impressive seeing just how large these whales are.
Humpback whales do a very neat feeding behavior called bubble feeding. The whales will get in a group and circle small fish and confuse them and then come up from below with their mouths open. These were the two largest whales in the group and always the first to come above the surface.
A Mom's Embrace
When we spotted this mother and baby sea otter, we made sure we didn’t scare them. This was a very young otter, and spent most of its time we were with them on its mother. Mother sea otters will hold their baby on their stomach as they rest to make sure the baby is safe and to protect it.
Sea otters are a very playful animal. This otter had just finished playing hard with another otter and was ready for a rest. It looked as if it went to give the other otter a high-five to say it was fun playing with him.
For years I have wanted to photograph bull elk in the snow. During the rut it had been really cold, but never any snow where I had been. Finally, during a heavy snow storm I found this bull elk still in rut. When he bugled in front of the snow covered forest, all that waiting for snow was worth the wait.
Bull elk are so focused in the fall on trying to mate that they hardly notice their surroundings. It was funny to see the look in this elks eyes when he seemed to notice that it had snowed.
In Canada, the pine tree larch will change from green to yellow in the fall. There are some well known valleys that will be completely yellow when the larch trees change. It was a thrill finding this bull elk and tracking him as he walked in front of the snow covered larch trees.
It was hard to track this elk at times as the forest was thick and the snow was falling very hard. When I caught up to him and found this opening between the trees, it was neat to see his antlers covered in snow.
As the earth begins to warm, glaciers begin to melt faster and retreat further. It is neat to see the glaciers calve and fall into the ocean, but also sad at the same time because that means it is melting. This glacier is melting at a very fast rate and leaving hundreds of icebergs where the glacier use to be.
Ice bergs come from glaciers when they become detached from the glacier. I loved the perspective I was able to get to show this ice berg up close with where it came from many hundreds of years ago.
I will stay up and look for northern lights, and they won’t come out. However, when I don’t expect them is when I see them the best. I was driving across Alaska in the night when all of a sudden the sky lit up. I had to pull over and capture the dancing northern lights.
Mountains and fog go hand in hand. When the fog is thick and you can’t see, the fog is annoying. However, when that fog begins to clear it can create a dramatic scene. I love how the angle of the light makes it appear as if this is a black and white photo, but this was the natural light of the shot. The fog created a dramatic effect that really showed how many different ridges there were.
Looking to Mom
On this morning it appeared as if the pups hadn’t seen their mom in a few days. They were very excited to see her and had lots of energy. These two pups stayed the closest to their mom and were always beside her no matter where she went.
Wolf pups are like any other young dog, and like to play. After the one pup on the left had played with the stick a while, the other pup decided it wanted to play with the same stick and came over and tried to take it.
A wolf pup is one of those animals I hoped to get to photograph one day, but never really expected I would have an opportunity. After seeing this pup from a distance, I hoped it would come back out after we got closer. It first just peaked its head out, and then it stood proudly out in the open. Wow! If I had gotten no other wolf pup shots I would have been happy, but more was to come!
There were no black pups in this family, but this one was completely tan. Maybe it will change color as it gets older, but I had never seen a wolf this color before. It seemed to be the most playful of the pups too.
Wolf pups are curious about the world they live in, just like every baby animal. This pup went to investigate these bushes, and when it was done it was looking around trying to find a way out.
These wolf pups all had different personalities. Being able to observe them up close was so cool, because it allowed us to really see their individual personalities. One wanted a large stick, and another wanted anyone else’s stick. Once they got what they wanted they laid down and played with their sticks.
Wolf pups know how to get food, and when they are hungry they are relentless. The adult had been stubborn up to this point and not given any food up. Shortly after the three pups licked it at the same time, the adult bent down and regurgitated some food.
The wolf pups really didn’t play with each other as much as I thought they would. They were playful, but they just didn’t play with their siblings much. I really thought this pup would play with its resting sibling, but it was on a mission and kept on going.
A Puppy Look
I loved the look of this wolf pup. It was very different than all its siblings, and made it a very distinctive pup. It was also on its own more than the other pups. Curiosity got the best of this pup and it came closer to check us out.
Watching the wolf pups on the river bed was amazing! But they surprised me after they got a ways out. They didn’t just stay far away and have me look through binoculars at them. But they decided to walk back our direction and where they had started at.
As the wolf pups were heading our direction it was hard to choose which wolf pup to photograph. They were all on the move and I didn’t want to miss a really great opportunity. As I was tracking this pup it stopped and really looked back our way. When I looked behind me an adult wolf had come out of the woods. I liked the look of this pup when it saw the adult wolf.
I enjoyed seeing the adult wolves, but the pups were what I really wanted to see and photograph. Photographing wolf pups is so hard because they are extremely hard to find and if found are normally very far away. I liked how these pups looked to be alone, but if you look in the background you can see an adult watching over them.
Caribou love the high country to try and get away from the bugs. They love the fall even more because the bugs begin to die and they can focus more on eating than running away from bugs. This nice bull caribou was moving the ridge when he stopped and looked at us before going back to eating.
The tundra can be a difficult place to get a good photo. The terrain is very deceiving and hard to get an animal on a higher spot to get a clean background. I love the look of this photo as I was able to capture this large bull moose on a slight rise that accentuated him against the colorful tundra.
Capturing animals in their environment is one of my favorite ways to photograph animals. It is important to show where they live, so that we can conserve the land they need to survive on. These moose were eating willows in front of an incredible mountain scene one late evening in Denali.
There are hundreds of ponds scattered in the backcountry of Denali. You would think that would mean that finding a moose in one is easy, but you would be wrong. There are so many that the moose can be wherever they want and not have to congregate at one pond. I spend days every year hoping to find a bull moose in a pond, and most years I leave disappointed. On this evening the rainbow was out and the moose was near the pond, but after waiting a while he came to the pond and got a drink in front of the rainbow.
In the fall moose and other ungulates shed their velvet and reveal their hard antler. They drop their antlers every year and regrow them. It is hard to imagine a moose growing antlers this large in a few months, but they do. It takes the moose a couple of days of rubbing bushes and trees to completely get rid of the velvet from their antlers.
The tundra in Alaska is surprisingly tall. Often it’s not until the animal gets into a clearing that you realize just how large the tundra is because it makes these large moose look small. And when you can barely see a moose calf above the tundra, it’s hard to get a good photograph of it until it’s in a more open area.
Finding one moose in the large landscape of Denali is tough. It’s a very nice surprise when you hike in on a moose, and when you get there you see that there is actually two moose! I spent many hours with these moose before dark, and as they moved away they crossed in front of Denali.
Moose are very large and in charge. Moose have short tempers and don't like people or other animals being in their space. I was well over 75 yards from this moose, but he let me know it was time to back up, and I listened and moved quickly.
It is not unusual for snow to fall in October in the north. The fresh snow fall made for a dramatic scene as this bull elk went on the tip of the ridge to look out over the valley at his harem and call out to let other challengers know he meant business.
Photographing in the snow is not easy. If the snow is too heavy, then the animal can’t be photographed. But if it not snowing very hard you can’t tell it’s snowing in the photo. After spending a long time with this bull the right conditions came together and I got my winter bull elk scene I was trying for.
In the fall elk fight for the right to mate. The further north you are, the more chance it might snow during the fall. The first snow fall of the season didn’t stop this elk from bugling and rounding up his harem.
The elk rut happens in the fall across the west. For years I had hoped to get a snow during the rut to photograph the elk in. I started to wonder if I would get my opportunity. When the moment finally came and it snowed during the rut, this bull elk didn’t disappoint and put on a show in the snow.
When a fox loses their winter coat, they look like they are not as healthy because they lose their fluff. This red fox was doing just fine, as it was looking back at the brown bear it had just outrun.
There are moments in time that always give you a rush of excitement. I had been searching and trying to find lynx for a number of years, when I had this encounter. When I first saw this lynx and saw that it was sitting in an evening light beam, my heart about stopped in excitement! For my first lynx sighting to be in perfect light was more than I could have asked for.
I had lost this lynx in the thick woods and had given up hope of finding it. I turned to leave and something told m to look one more time. As I turned to look my eyes caught its eyes peering through the pine trees. It had probably been there watching me the whole time, but they have such great camouflage and if they don’t move they are nearly impossible to find.
A Learning Look
Every lynx might look the same from a distance, but if you get up close they are very different. I love the hair on the side of the head that comes down and looks like a beard. Lynx are very curious animals and want to know as much about what is in their territory as they can.
Lynx live in many different habitats. They are very adaptable and able to blend into wherever they live very well. I really enjoyed finding this lynx in a moss-covered rainforest. It created a very different look compared to other areas I had seen lynx in. Lynx are like the ghost of the forest and so hard to find in any habitat.
Watching a lynx hunt is so cool. They can leap and move so effortlessly through the forest. It would take me 4 times as long as a lynx to get to the same area. This lynx had just missed a squirrel and was waiting outside its hole to capture it.
Lynx are a very hard animal to find. And once you find one, it doesn’t mean you see it for very long. I was tracking this lynx through the woods, and having difficulty doing it, but I love this shot and how well it represents the feel a lynx gives off.
Tracking a lynx is very difficult. They are very stealthy, and if they don’t want to be seen, they won’t be seen. I had seen this lynx earlier and tried to follow it through the woods, but I went to a small opening and waited. Thankfully it kept going and looked almost surprised to see me when it looked through the opening.
Lynx like to hunt in the early morning and late evening. They have incredible eyesight and can hear very well too. This gives them a large advantage in the darker times of day. This lynx was sitting very still trying to find the mouse it could hear moving around.
You Found Me
This is the look a lynx gives that moment it spots you and can’t believe it has been spotted. Lynx are so stealthy and so good at going undetected that I feel they think they cannot be found. One of the biggest rushes I get in wildlife photography is when I find a lynx.
Nature offers us many different views of one place. If you were to sit and look at one area throughout the course of a day, there would be times you wouldn’t recognize that same area because of the light, fog, rain, shadows and many other ways. Capturing a close up of this forest created a dramatic mood that would have been very different if I hadn’t zoomed in.
The landscape of Denali in Denali is mostly a green tundra. It does not have much color until later in July when the fireweed begins to bloom. I love how fireweed blooms in groups and brings more life to the valley.
Winter time in the Rockies is a beautiful time of the year. I love it when the mountains get covered in snow and the snow begins to pile up. In the early winter some of the lakes take longer to freeze than others, and a winter mountain reflection is a breathtaking view.
The beauty of nature is not easily copied. There are super creative people in this world, but I’m continually blown away by the natural designs of nature that I see. There are so many intricate details in the bubbles and lines of this little ice berg that are just incredible.
Seeing glaciers in Alaska is on top of most peoples list who visit. They are very impressive and each glacier is different. This was a huge iceberg that had fallen off this glacier and created a neat perspective of the glacier in the background.
Glacier ice is amazing because of how different the ice forms in different areas. When the glacier drops ice bergs, the designs of the ice becomes more noticeable. I love being up close to the ice and seeing all the natural designs.
The coast of Alaska is very beautiful. There are many different looks and awe inspiring areas. Not that the coast needs it, but throw in an ice berg that has a beautiful design and the coast becomes even more beautiful.
This ice berg was around the size of a football field. I can only imagine the wave that was caused when this huge ice berg became detached from the glacier. As this huge ice berg heads out to sea, it made all other ice bergs look small.
I could spend days being around and looking at ice bergs. It’s amazing how different each one is and looks nothing like any other berg. Some are light blue, dark blue, almost see through, and some are all white. When this ice berg was back lit it really showed off many of the different colors the ice can be.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alaska has some of the best waters in the world to watch humpback whales. Humpback whales flock to Alaska to feed all summer, because they don’t feed at all during the winter. It never gets old seeing these huge tails with the backdrop of the Alaskan mountains.
Humpbacks are a massive whale, and can reach up to 70 feet long. It isn't known exactly why humpbacks jump fully out of the water, but there are some good educated guesses. This whale was part of a fishing group of humpbacks that were not having much success. It likely was a little upset and decided to jump out of the water to release some frustration.
Being on the ocean and looking for whales is always exciting. You never know where they are going to come up and how long they will stay near the surface. This whale gave us one more tail before diving into the shadows.
The waters of Alaska are a beautiful space for whales to live in during the summer. If I was a whale, Alaska would be on the top of my list to spend feeding all day long. This whale shows its tail before diving in front of a glacier.
Wild animals are incredible in learning how to survive. It’s said that only 10% of humpback whales know how to bubble feed, but it seems like to me that each summer I see the behavior in more areas and that likely means more whales are learning how to do it. I’d learn how to bubble feed if it meant the difference between 15 fish in one mouthful and over 100 in a mouthful.
I don't think I've ever seen an unhappy otter. I've seen some playing and fighting each other, but it still looks like they have a smile on their face. This guy was having a relaxing evening and just enjoying his clams and slowly eating them while swimming backwards.
Sea otters spend a lot of their time on their back in the water. When they come up to eat they lay on their back, and when they are on the water surface they seem to just always be chilling on their back. This was a young otter and was curious about the boat.
Sea Otter Family
Baby sea otters are very small when born. A mother sea otter is very protective of their baby and don't let them get out of sight. These otters were riding the waves and enjoying a relaxing morning in the first light of the day.
Salmon can be very difficult for bald eagles to catch. The biggest issue is their size, as bald eagles mainly have to catch smaller fish. But in the summer in Alaska there is a bounty of salmon and its hard for the eagles to not be tempted. This eagle was barely able to fly out with its salmon it snatched from the ocean.
There are times in life when you don’t know what just happened. This happened to this eagle as it was waiting its turn to eat. All of a sudden another bald eagle came out of nowhere and grabbed the eagle and threw it into the river. I can only imagine the surprise of the eagle that got turned upside down.
The common loon is a beautiful bird. I always wondered how it got to be called a common loon instead of just loon. What is so common about it? Loons are unmistakable by their coloration and beauty.
Food most Alaskan animals only comes in the summer. Competition for any food can be fierce. This mature bald eagle was not going to allow this immature bald eagle any opportunity to take away its salmon, and attacked it before it could land.
As a wildlife photographer, it is always great to start off the day early with a good photo. There are many days I get no photos, or have to wait way longer into the day before I even have an opportunity to take a photo. It was nice to have this bald eagle on a beautiful perch close to me on this morning.
Bald eagles can be found all over the state of Alaska. They congregate in high numbers where the salmon run. Some of those areas are in a rainforest because much of southeast Alaska is a rainforest. The rainforest creates a beautiful backdrop for this eagle.
Owls are a hard animal to find because they blend in so well with their surroundings. If I hadn’t previously found this owl, I likely wouldn’t have found it in this tree. I love how vibrant its eyes are and it shows off how well these owls can see.
Owls are not a bird I see often. I do search for them quite a bit when I am out photographing, but if they don’t fly they are really hard to find most of the time. That is, of course, unless they are perched in a yellow aspen tree. I loved how this great horned owls eyes matched the color of the leaves.
I always enjoy seeing bald eagles. It is hard to imagine that they were once endangered, because is places in Alaska now they are abundant. But I’m grateful that I get to see these birds because it would be very sad and a very different Alaska if they weren’t around.
Alaska creates a beautiful backdrop to many species of animals. The scenery is incredible, but the animals within the scenery is what gets me the most excited. This eagle flying in front of some mature pine trees in a rainforest was a beautiful scene.
Bald eagles can’t really swim. They can do just enough to make it back to shore most of the time. The main reason they end up in water is that the fish they caught is to big for them to fly off with. Eagles really can’t catch very large fish, and when the fish is too large that they catch they have to swim back to shore with it.
Eagles are fairly territorial. Yes there are large congregations of eagles in spots, but that doesn’t mean that eagles won’t protect against a really good fishing spot. This eagle had just chased another eagle away and was letting it know who was boss.
Capturing a bald eagle in flight at eye level is not easy. They are usually higher up until the last minute when they dive. Being up on a cliff watching eagles helped me be able to capture this shot.
Puffins are one of my favorite birds. They have such a neat look and they are really hard to photograph because they fly so fast. These puffins had picked out a great home on the side of the cliff.
There are so many beautiful places in nature. We usually one get one viewpoint of that beauty, but birds get so many different viewpoints. It looked as if this northern hawk owl was sitting on the top of this tree and watching the clouds roll over the mountains.
Finding an owl of any type is exciting. Northern hawk owls are difficult to find because they aren’t very big. I loved the dead tree it was sitting on in the fading light of the day. It created a nice mood to the scene that was different than any owl shot I had.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.