Sunday, November 27, 2011

Beaver Activity Ramping Up

There's a beaver pond not far from our house that provides a tranquil spot to enjoy nature on most days. It's surrounded by some ancient red pine and beds of fabulous moss. The pond itself is home to Great Blue Herons all summer. But now that fall is looking to turn into winter, the beavers have turned some areas a hundred yards away from the pond into construction zones. I haven't had the pleasure of actually seeing a beaver at work here, but the evidence of their nightly engineering is fascinating.

The pond with primary lodge back in September.
Now, in late November, dam and lodge winterizing is in full swing.

The bark is often eaten.

Sawing the log into manageable (and edible) pieces.

At first glance, you'd swear a lumberjack had done this.

A log slide down to the pond. There are more than a dozen of these around the pond, all leading to a lumbering site on the elevated area far from the pond.

Beavers are legendary for their ability to react to the sound of running water and immediately patch a breach in their dam. At one point some researchers put a tape recorder with running water sounds in the middle of a field. Some nearby beavers quickly covered it with mud and bark. Does this prove you don't have to be bright to be a good engineer?

Castor canadensis. Photo by Steve.


  1. Just discovered your blog by way of a funny comment you made on the National Parks Traveler site (about the boulder in Yosemite), and discovered to my surprise you're a fellow Michigander (Michiganian?). I'm not a birdwatcher, but this post caught my eye because on a falls-to-falls hike at Tahquahmenon last summer, I was fascinated by the evidence of beaver activity along the trail. It must be fun to also be able to see the fruits of their labor!

  2. Hi Sheila! Tahquamenon deserves a post of its own here sometime. That place is an absolute treasure and most Michiganders know it for the Lower Falls only, it seems. I'm anxious to get there during that period (about one day long!) between sub-zero temps and mosquito season.

    Thanks for stopping by. This blog's going to end up about 60% birding, but the rest of it may catch your eye. Starting a multi-part post about moss-watching later today! (It's easier to spot than birds...slightly slower moving.)

  3. The skeets actually weren't bad at all when we were at Tahquamenon Labor Day weekend. Not quite sure how we got so lucky, considering how wet it was last summer. I'll look forward to checking your blog from time to time, and maybe even picking up a thing or two about birds ... and moss!