The Bird and the Bear
One day, I opened the garage door and found that my potted white bird of paradise plant, which I had temporarily placed in the middle of the driveway between the two garage bays a year ago, had mysteriously disappeared. The outer, decorative pot was lying on its side on the driveway and the inner pot, along with the plant, was missing. I immediately suspected that someone had stolen it.
I reported the theft to Clive, the chief of security in our gated community. He told me that the crime was probably perpetrated by one of the Florida black bears that had been known to forage for food in the community. I was skeptical about this, but he told me a couple of stories that convinced me that he knew what he was talking about.
He told me that the plant heart is considered a great delicacy amongst savvy ursines, and that one woman who had planted a row of white bird of paradise plants lining her patio lost half of them to a neighborhood bear, who went as far as to dig some of them up and carry them away.
Clive's conjecture was certainly plausible for another reason, given what time of year it is. While Florida black bears do not hibernate per se, their instincts tell them to eat as much as possible from September through November, and then slow down for a bit.
Meanwhile, Jenny had done some Web research but came up empty. She couldn't find any references to bears devouring helpless white birds of paradise. So she, too, was unconvinced.
This morning, as I backed out of the driveway, Jenny spotted the pot around the side of the house. The contents are pictured here. Jenny and I are no longer skeptical. There is now no doubt in my mind that the same bear who knocks over my garbage can and who sits contentedly eating in the dumpster at a nearby elementary school ate my bird of paradise!
It was Jenny's suggestion that I publish this page, just in case anyone else's white bird of paradise plant mysteriously disappears in bear country.
(It's apparently the big blue and white flowering bird of paradise plants they're after, not the smaller orange and blue ones. They obviously are discerning bears who prefer Penn State colors to Gator orange and blue.)