"A Sand County Almanac"

"THERE ARE SOME WHO CAN LIVE WITHOUT WILD THINGS AND SOME WHO CANNOT."
"FOR US IN THE MINORITY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GEESE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TELEVISION.".....Aldo Leopold




"LOOK DEEP INTO NATURE, AND THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING BETTER".....Albert Einstein


Thursday, July 19, 2012

BEAVER QUEST...

I have been up before the sun everyday during the month of July in order to stake-out a nearby creek and photograph a family of beavers.  This family consists of two adults, two adolescents (last year’s young) and three kits born this year.

It has been an educational, enlightening and entertaining experience.  I hope you enjoy the photos that I was able to take during my “beaver quest”.  For the most part my quest was spent watching beavers swim away from the den looking for food…





And returning with an amazing variety of branches, twigs and limbs…





Some readers may be surprised to learn that beavers do not eat wood.  Rather, they are after the cambium layer just under the bark.  They also eat a wide variety of aquatic grasses, apples, corn, ferns, beans and other plants.  Their nimble front feet allow them to handle branches much as we would eat an ear of corn, deftly turning it until they have stripped the bark and devoured the cambium layer.
Beavers establish food caches near the entrance to their dens.  This allows the young to go to the “pantry” as it were, anytime they get hungry for a snack…
The adolescent beavers (born last summer) take on many chores in the family group.  They obtain food…


 They babysit for the kits, born this year, while the adults are busy with more arduous tasks or resting…
The kits spend their time eating, sleeping and trying to mimic their elders…



This little one is trying to perfect the technique for transporting a stick, while swimming, and keeping it from jabbing his eye out…

Finally he decided to improvise and just balanced the stick on his head…
This one is watching an adult and trying to help out…

Most beavers that live along streams and rivers do not build the elaborate lodges that their lake dwelling cousins do.  Instead, they live in dens dug into the steam bank.  The entrances are often located through the roots of sizable trees and are almost always underwater.  In this photo the den has a vent hole, covered with limbs, located on the bank several feet behind, and just to the left, of the tree.  There is also a food cache visible near the entrance…

While waiting for a beaver to appear one is often rewarded with sightings of other species, such as this mink, that crossed the stream, climbed a tree, and disappeared on the far shore…








Water loving birds are common…




Deer also follow waterways and are regularly seen…



This post is getting longer than I intended, so I will end it with   some beaver trivia:  The largest beaver on record weighed 110 lbs and was trapped in Wisconsin.  Some beaver dens have been known to hold up to 18 beavers from a single family.  Each family group requires approximately ½ mile of river frontage to forage.  During their second winter the adolescents will leave home to find a territory, and establish a family, of their own.

If you are still with me, I want to thank you for visiting.  Keep well and stop back soon.


3 comments:

  1. Intriguing insight into the private life of the Beaver Steve,wish you could send a few over to my neck of the woods in North West England.
    I do believe they are being re introduced to some parts of Scotland!!!

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  2. Your pictures and commentary are fabulous! I love the way the beavers transport the wood across the water. It's incredible to find so much wildlife in one small stretch of river.

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  3. Paul,
    They are a mixed blessing...some landowners don't appreciate them at all.
    Rosemary,
    Thank you, the wildlife diversitty is one benefit of sitting quietly for hours and being observant.
    Thank you both for your visit to the blog and your comments.
    Steve

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