Waiting for spring: BLACK BEAR

Next up in my series of wintering and preparing for the launch of This is the Boat the Ben Built: a look at what the black bear is up to!

Illustrations Maggie Zeng © 2022

Black bears spend the winter season hibernating in dens they have made in caves, burrows, brush piles, or other sheltered locations. They have periods of sleep and wakefulness but can go all winter without eating, drinking, urinating, or defecating. They burn the fat they have stored in the months leading up to winter and lose body heat slowly thanks to their lowered metabolism and thick insulating fur. Remarkably, even though their metabolisms are slowed, female black bears give birth in the middle of winter and nurse their cubs in the den until spring.

Did you know that black bears have two kinds of fur on their back in the winter? They have long guard hairs and a fine dense underfur that can barely be penetrated by water. This underfur is so insulative that bears out in the open can become covered with snow! You can read more about that, and see a photo of a snow-covered black bear here.

Besides waiting for spring, one black bear in my life can’t wait to bring her copy of This is the Boat the Ben Built back to the cubs in her den. How about you? Preorder now!

the author lays in the snow next to a stuffed toy animal bear

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