A Clever Strategy: Bears and Serviceberries

During a recent week at a wonderful cottage in the Kawarthas, I spent many hours hiking on the nature trails at Petroglyphs Provincial Park.

The terrain varies from marsh

to deep woods dominated by Red and White Pine.

One part of the trail was notable as there were about 5 trees heavily bent over obscuring the path.

The trees were all in the Amelanchier or Serviceberry family.

The Shrubs of Ontario lists seven Amelanchier species which occur in Ontario. They can be told apart by size, leaf shape and other characteristics. As you can see in these photos, the leaves of some species are roundish

Serviceberry (Amelanchier sanguinea)

and others are more egg-shaped.

I was puzzled as to why these trees were bent over. They were not broken so will probably return to an upright position over time.

Having seen a bear earlier in the day,

Black Bear

I realized that this is how the bears obtain the Serviceberry fruit which is growing too high in the trees to be easily reached.

By bending but not breaking the trees, the bears obtain food today and can return next season for more.

Miles Hearn

1 thought on “A Clever Strategy: Bears and Serviceberries

  1. David Leach

    Hello, I just planted a serviceberry in my yard and while looking up some information, ran across your article. Many years ago while fishing in Montana I looked down the river and saw a black bear with three cubs walking along the river. They came up to a large serviceberry growing out of the bank. Mom climbed up on the bank above the serviceberry went out onto it and pushed it down onto the gravel along the river. She sprawled out on the tree and just stayed there letting the cubs eat. Obviously, she had done this before. They never saw me. This was all prior to video cameras and I must not have had a camera with me. Anyway, this confirms what you saw.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *