The Bear Facts Old Ephriam

The Bear Facts Old Ephriam: Click to visit Copyright 2001 Bruce Argyle, Photographer
Twelve miles up the Logan Canyon in the Bear River Range of the Wasatch Mountains is the grave of Old Ephriam, the last grizzly bear seen in Utah. He was trapped and shot in 1923 by Frank Clark, a sheepherder from Malad. Clark, an animal lover–except for bears–doggedly tracked Old Ephriam for 10 years during which the grizzly poached local sheep with impunity.

The name “grizzly” is based on the fact that bears in North America’s interior have hairs with white tips, resulting in a “grizzled” appearance. Many think the grizzly is a separate species, but in fact, the brown bears of North America, Northern Asia and Europe are all local variations of the same species–Ursus arctos. Brizzly, Kodiak, Manchurian, and Siberian brown bears may differ in size and color, but they all share a characteristic shoulder hump, a dished face and extra long claws so good for digging.

Old Ephriam was said to be a “giant grizzly”, weighing in at around 1,100 pounds. Such a weight would be unremarkable for a costal Alaskan brown bear, which can reach up to 1,500 pounds. But, because of their more limited food supply, interior brown bears, such as Old Ephriam, usually range between 225 and 670 pounds. Thus, it is very likely that the 1,100 pound figure might just be the product of good storytelling.

Today, you may visit utah’s most famous brown bear in two different places. Old Ephriam’s skull is on display in the Tanner Reading Room of Utah State University’s Merrill-Cazier library in Logan. But maybe the best way to pay your respects to this Utah celebrity is to hike to his old stomping grounds northeast of Logan. His grave is six miles up the right-hand fork of the Logan river. A large stone monument, built by the Boy Scouts in 1966 lies near the 1923 gravesite.

The Bear Facts Old Ephriam-Credits:

Photo: Courtesy, Copyright 2001 Bruce Argyle, Photographer

Text: Stokes Nature Center: Holly Strand, Jim Akers, Jeannie Huenemann

Additional Reading
IUCN Bear Specialist Group Assessment:

Old Ephriam’s Grave,

Boling, Josh, Old Ephraim, The Infamous Northern Utah Grizzly, Wild About Utah, August 7, 2017,

Greene, Jack, Bears, Wild About Utah, October 22, 2019,

Flickers Tapping Love Codes on my Roof

Flickers Tapping Love Codes on my Roof: Northern Flicker Courtesy & © 2007 Buck Russell
Northern Flicker
Courtesy & © 2007 Buck Russell
Have you ever woken up to this sound [Flicker pounding on a roof] and wondered what in the world was going on? This is the sound of the Northern Flicker, a large, ant-eating woodpecker found in open woodlands, savannas, and forest edges throughout North America.
The western subspecies, the Red-shafted Flicker, can be found year round in Utah. Its largish brown body with spotted breast, and thin dark bars across its back are unmistakable. Both sexes have a black collar and a red spot on the head—males on the back of the head and females on the side.

Breeding season is when you’d be most likely to hear the flicker drumming loudly on your house or nearby trees. Flickers—like other woodpeckers–drum to attract mates and defend territory—they are not looking for food. Both sexes drum and you’ll usually hear the drumming in conjunction with their Long Call, [ play long call]

Flicker drumming is produced by rapidly and sharply beating the tip of the bill on some sort of resonating object, usually a dead tree, limb or branch, sometimes a metal surface. They will use aluminum siding, as well as the trim and fascia boards of wood, brick, and stucco homes. They’ll also go for metal downspouts, gutters, chimneys, and vents.

Scientists have measured just over one second as the average duration of drum roll, with averages of 22 to 25 total beats in drum roll.

Does it hurt the little fellow to bang his head repeatedly across a hard surface? No. Flickers and other woodpeckers have thickened skulls and powerful neck muscles that enable them to deliver sharp blows without damaging their internal organs. A spongy, elastic tissue connects these flexible joints between the beak and the skull acting as a shock absorber. Bristly feathers around the nostrils help filter out the wood dust created as the flicker pounds away.

Luckily for homeowners, holes made by drumming activities are usually just small, shallow dents in the wood. And the drumming usually stops once breeding begins in the spring. For the most part, flickers spend their time digging in the ground slurping ants with their long tongues. If a flicker really starts to get on your nerves—there are some things you can do to discourage his behavior–like hanging Mylar reflective tape or streamers to the area where he likes to drum. Personally, the sound doesn’t bother me once I know the source is an attractive bird whose taste in real estate just happens to be the same as mine.


Audio: American Flicker sound courtesy, recorded by Ryan O’Donnell.

Formerly: American Flicker sound for this recording used by permission of the copyright holder Kevin Colver and found in the Western Soundscape Archive at the University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library. Dr. Colver’s Soundscape albums are also available for download from
Photo: Used by Permission of the photographer Buck Russell, Bridgerland Audubon Member
Text: Bridgerland Audubon Society: Lyle Bingham, Holly Strand

Sources & Additional Reading 

Complete Birds of North America, ed. Jonathan Alderfer, National Geographic, 2006

Moore, William S. 1995. Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: