Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Jams: Bear Jams, Wolf Jams, even Kinglet Jams

This is a note to go with my last post. I got a comment from someone is Australia who had never heard of a ‘bear jam’ (Thank you Allissa). Sometimes I forget this is a much larger world and should explain myself a tad better. A big reason I’m blogging is learn to write so other people can enjoy my writing. I’ve filled journals for myself for years. Constructive comments are always welcome.

“Bear Jam” is a common term in Yellowstone National Park. It means the traffic is stopped or clogged because everyone has stopped to watch the bear. We’re supposed to park off the road, but the rules fall out the window when a bear is close. If it lasts long, a ranger turns up and brings order to the mess. Sometimes they even permit one way traffic for awhile if the viewing is good and there is no appropriate parking.

Also, there is a rule we are supposed to stay 100 yards away from a wolf or bear …. But what can you do when you are in a bear jam! You are safe in the car and can’t move….. a lovely opportunity to photograph.

There are also wolf jams and bison create their own jams. The bison herds often choose the road as the easiest path to take. Once we spent 45 minutes waiting for bison to cross a bridge from east to west …. And the next day we waited another 45 minutes while they crossed from west to east!

We chuckle over the ‘kinglet jam’ we created this spring. A kinglet is a tiny little plain bird. Usually the red doesn’t show. Two of us had our cameras pointed at one and in a moment 7 cars had stopped to see what the action was. We even had a car-load of Asians stop in the middle of the road and all pile out, hoping we had a bear in the lens.


  1. Are you published? If not, you should be - I would purchase anything you do (or have done). Just love your drawings and the writing of your experiences. Keep it coming.

  2. I often giggle when I see someones face when you say you are looking at a bird. tee hee...

  3. Hi Margaret ... no, my words are not published in an official sence (I have illustrated several things over the years). But if the writing Gods are good to me, that might change someday. First I have to submit.

  4. Great post! When we were in the Smokies last October, I was photographing leaves. At shoulder height with a steep rock wall behind me, mind you, there was NOTHING else there. There wasn't room for it! A car pulls up and a woman in a stage whisper says "Do you see a bear?"
    "No," I whispered back.
    "Well, what are you lookin' at?" she says a little louder.

    A thousand sarcastic thoughts tumbled through my mind in about 3.2 seconds. In the long run, I whispered back "Leaves."

    To which I got a disappointed "oh."

    By then traffic had backed up about 10 cars.

  5. I never knew that but it makes sense, we used to have Black bears at the local dumps which caused a traffic jam.