Caught-on-Camera: Bear Sings in a Tree in Yosemite National Park

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Sound on! 🔊 Check out this video of an adult male black bear vocalizing in a tree! Vocalizations are rare to hear, but black bears can produce a surprisingly wide repertoire of sounds. The most common sound heard by humans is a loud blowing indicating defensiveness or fear, produced when people approach much too close (sometimes, this is combined with teeth-clacking or bluff charging in a defensive, “stay-away-from-me” display). In friendly interactions with mates, cubs, and play partners, however, bears communicate using a variety of grunts. During rare displays of high emotion, bears sometimes produce the loud, resonant voice heard here. This can resemble a scream (typically used by cubs in distress), bawling (indicating pain or fear for cubs), moans (when afraid or frustrated), bellows (during combat between adults), or a deep pulsing noise (when a bear feels seriously threatened). We’re not sure what prompted this unscheduled a capella concert—the bear wasn’t apparently injured, threatened, or disturbed by other bears or humans at the time. #Yosemite #NationalPark #KeepBearsWild

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Wildlife encounters can be frequent for any visitor to Yosemite National Park, especially during a pandemic that has forced officials to admit only half the regular human traffic on a given day. But seeing a bear sing high up in a tree? Well, that’s just rare.

A bear was recently caught on camera in the park making some curious noises. It was filmed by a passerby and leads the the obvious question “what the heck is the bear doing?” Park officials tried to explain the activity that seemed to befuddle everyone.

“Vocalizations are rare to hear, but black bears can produce a surprisingly wide repertoire of sounds,” park officials wrote on Instagram. During rare displays of high emotion, bears sometimes produce the loud, resonant voice heard here. This can resemble a scream (typically used by cubs in distress), bawling (indicating pain or fear for cubs), moans (when afraid or frustrated), bellows (during combat between adults), or a deep pulsing noise (when a bear feels seriously threatened).”

“We’re not sure what prompted this unscheduled a capella concert—the bear wasn’t apparently injured, threatened, or disturbed by other bears or humans at the time.”

It was a curious sight to witness on camera, and one that we’ll never know what that bear was trying to accomplish. But it’s always beautiful to see wildlife in its natural habitat, and Yosemite is a great place to do that.

Active NorCal

Northern California's Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine

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