I awoke at 5 this morning to the sound of the bird feeder being dismantled. Not that I recognized it as that sound right away, but this sounded a lot different than Puffball trying to climb the window screens. The Hermit heard it too, and shone a light out the window.
There, about five feet away from the house, was a black bear. A very large one. It let go of the bird feeder when the light shone on it, but it took its time sniffing around before it shuffled off into the woods.
I guess I've grown complacent about bears this summer; I did not see one around all spring, when they are at their hungriest, and I assumed by now there's plenty of food for them in the woods. But with the drought we've had until last weekend, the berry crop was probably a complete failure, probably not as many insect grubs around, or whatever else bears eat. When they're hungry, they come looking. In retrospect, it was not a wise choice to put suet cakes in the feeder.
I'll clean up around the yard a bit this evening, make sure the garbage lid is secured down, run the grill to burn off any excess grease, get the remaining suet cake off the feeder and scrub it a bit, take the thistle seed feeder in, shut the cookshed door tightly...
...and probably not sleep, even though there will be a shotgun handy. It's a last resort, but a reasonable precaution.