Fall is feeding time for the black bears of cottage country. In September, the bruins will eat up to 20,000 calories per day—about 78 Big Macs—and gain 15 lbs per week as they prep for their long winter naps. This period of non-stop scarfing is called “hyperphagia”; the bears stuff their faces with anything they can sniff out: nuts, fruit, insects, and fish—plus carrion, birdseed, and garbage.
As the days get shorter and the food sources start to dwindle, black bears burn at least some of those calories building their winter dens. They’ll find rock ledges or fallen trees, and dig underneath, creating a depression that’s sometimes several feet deep. They line this hibernation nook with leaves, lichen, or rotten bark to make a cozy, earthy-smelling mattress. It’s no Tempur-Pedic, but it works for the bear!