A call to my mom (who is out of state for a business trip) confirmed that a female black bear with triplet cubs had been sighted in the area and this was likely her... With cubs up the tree, she wasn't going anywhere.
We stayed up all night, checking on Mama bear with a flashlight from the house to see if she had left yet. At one point I didn't see her anymore, so I went out to retrieve the two bird feeders she had assaulted. I got halfway through the yard and thought.., what if she's still here and I just can't see her in the dark? I shined my flashlight up the old oak tree and sure enough, a small black blob was in the highest crook... A cub. Bird feeders would have to wait. I went back in. Just in time too. Mama bear had gone to raid the feeders on the other side of the house.
In all, Mama Bear spent about four hours in the yard, three bird feeders and two shepherd' shook poles were damaged. The poles can be bent back but the feeders are trashed. She came alarmingly close to the house at one point (for a feeder) and I was able to snap this photo.
I consider the experience a blessing. Some documentary videographers and wildlife photographers don't get that close to their targets. How amazing to have gotten to see a wild bear up close and personal without the fear of being mauled.
Oddly enough, last night also marked the first time I've spent the night away from #5, who stayed home with Tony and the other kids.