Black Bear

Dens and Beds

Ursus americanus

  Learn how to identify the beds and dens made by the American black
bear by studying these photos.


entrance to a black bear's den inside a hollow
                    redwood stump

The small-looking opening at the base of this redwood stump is the entrance to a bear's den. The den was located below an old dirt road in a steep-walled creek canyon. The bear had shredded bark from the surrounding redwood trees and pulled it into the den to use as nesting material. Redwood bark is very fibrous and makes a great insulation material.

                    of the inside of the black bear's den inside the
                    hollow redwood stump

This view shows the inside of the den whose entrance can be seen in the photo above. The material inside is shredded redwood bark. The bear used its claws to shred bark from the surrounding trees, then pulled it inside to make a mattress to lay on.

                    bear bed at the base of a redwood tree

This is a black bear bed located at the base of a redwood tree. Notice that the bark has been shredded and removed from the lower portion of the tree. The area of ground to the right of the tree shows some open soil, where it was scraped down by the bear. There are pieces of bark on the ground all around the base of the tree. The open area was used as a temporary bed by the bear. It was flattened and there was fur in it. The tree itself provided some bark for bedding, but also served as a marking tree. Bears will shred the bark like this to mark trees in their range.

                    bear bed at the base of a Douglas fir tree showing
                    large scat accumulation

This is a bear bed that was located in a mixed forest composed of Douglas fir, tanoak, and redwood trees. This bed was located at the base of a large Douglas fir tree. Notice the bark and other materials in the flattened area to the right of the large tree. The large piles of scats were left by the bear as it regularly defecated in the same place each day. This is a common thing for bears to do near their beds. This bear bed was in use during early spring, when the only food available to the bears was grass and other plant material. These scats were all composed of grass and looked like horse scats. The large accumulation attests to how long this particular bear bed was in use. There was a regular trail coming up the mountain to this location from a grassy field below where this particular bear had been regularly feeding.

black bear
                    bed at the base of small redwood tree which the bear
                    girdled to gather bark

This bear bed was located at the base of a small redwood tree. In this case, the bear had completely stripped the bark from the lower 12 feet of the tree. Since the tree was girdled by the bear's activities, this tree will not survive. The bark was shredded and piled to make the mattress in the center of the photo. This tree was located at the edge of a canyon with steep sides and a small seasonal stream at the bottom. At the time of my discovery of this bear bed, in early summer, the stream bed was dry. Near this bed, the bear had created a marking tree by biting and clawing the bark of a small Douglas fir tree.   

                    ground bear den

This was the above-ground den I discovered at the base of a clump of redwood trees. The bear seemed to have been using this den for a long time, judging by the amount of scats in piles all around the bed area. The pile of scat in the foreground is one of three piles at this site. One is just out of sight over the log in the back. The other is out of the photo frame to the left. This bear shredded the bark from the redwood trees and the fallen log to use as nesting material. Redwood bark has great insulative properties, making it wonderful nest material! The scooped-out area in the center is where the bear curled up to sleep. The redwood trees above helped break rainfall and shelter the site. This was a very dry winter with much less rainfall than normal. That is probably why the bear chose an above-ground site for this den.

bear den above ground at base of redwood

A view showing the bed area in the bear's den at the base of the clump of redwood trees. Notice how thick that pile of shredded redwood bark is. This made a nice comfy mattress for the bear who slept here. This bed was still in use when I discovered it, but was abandoned shortly afterward. The food source at the time was grass, since it was early spring and very few other foods were available yet. Once the bear had other food sources, it moved on from this site.

black bear at its den site

This is the bear who made and used the above-ground den shown in the two photos above. When I discovered the den, I set up a trail camera to monitor the bear's activities at the site. The bear's bed is located behind him on the left, just beneath those redwoods. In this photo, you can see the scat pile that is shown in the first photo above.

Over time and many videos, I was able to determine that this is a male bear. He has a very big range and I have tracked him over a couple miles of his territory so far. It's difficult to map it all out since male bears can range much further than females.

black bear den under redwood trees

A different view showing the black bear's above-ground den site. The bed is located in the center of the photo, just on the other side of the fallen log. In this view, you can see how much bark was damaged by the bear in its nest gathering activities. These trees are not permanently damaged. The bear did not remove the bark down to the cambium layer, so the trees will live and be just fine. In the back right, you can see my pack on the ground. Just above that is the trail camera attached to a tree. This is how I obtained the photos and videos of the bear at this site.

redwood tree bark used by a black bear for nest

This is a close-up view showing the redwood tree bark that the bear used for nest material. The tree at the back right shows the normal appearance of redwood bark. The tree in the foreground shows extensive damage done by the bear gathering nesting material for its "mattress."

black bear bed with a stunning view

This bear bed had the best view I have seen yet! The bear constructed its bed at the edge of the forest, near an opening in the tree canopy. It was located at the edge of the hilltop and overlooked the other side of the canyon below. From this location, you can see for miles! The bear's bed was at the base of a pine tree and is seen in the shaded area of the photo above. Pine trees are not native to this area, but were planted following logging in some areas.

                      view from the black bear's bed

This is the stunning view seen from the black bear's bed in the photo above. You can literally see for miles from up here! That bear picked a great spot to rest.

                    bear bed at base of redwood trees
Black bear bed at base of redwood trees

                    bear bed at base of redwood trees
Black bear bed at base of redwood trees
To see black bears in action, marking on trees in their territory and doing other bear things, visit my YouTube channel:

The videos on my YouTube channel come from trail cameras I have set up in the woods to show black bears in their natural habitat, doing what they do when no one is watching. Enjoy!

Other Black Bear Pages on this site:
Go to the Black Bear Scat Page
or Black Bear Scat Page II
Go to the Black Bear Feeding Signs Page
or Black Bear Main Page

More Black Bear Tracks and Signs
Black Bear Marking Trees

Black Bear Trails and Stomp Marking
Black Bear Tracking Videos
More Bear Tracking Videos
Black Bear Cub Tracks

Another site I highly recommend for learning more about bears:
Not hosted on this site, but great black bear page
from the North American Bear Center:
Lily the Black Bear
Jewel the Black Bear
Opens in a new window. Follow along as Lily and Jewel raise cubs!
These web cams provide a look inside a wild bear's den, LIVE!
Watch cubs being raised and cared for in real time and learn more
about bears than ever possible before.
Rare glimpses into the lives of wild black bears.



prints prints

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Copyright 1997, 2010, 2018. Text, photos, videos, and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera - Desert Moon Design

Page updated: March 21, 2018

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