Early Spring American Beaver
Early spring at the beaver lodge. Anticipating the arrival of spring, this lodge is the first indicator that I watch every year. Soon, a small opening appears in the pond near the lodge, and North America’s largest rodents cautiously emerge. An often dangerous time for them, they are limited to these small openings in the ice near the lodge or around the edges of the pond–the small amount of open water making them easy prey for wolves and coyotes. In unusually long winters, their food caches may be depleted by now, forcing the beaver to make exposed forays into the woods to quickly cut down small brush for food, as shown here. The other beavers watch the brave journey expectantly from the ice, anticipating the first meals of spring. They are also shown here feeding on pond reed roots, dug from the bottom in spring, another favorite meal. Known as a keystone species, the beavers are a vastly important part of the ecosystem. The lodges, dams and subsequent ponds create new habitat for nesting ducks, swans and geese. The standing dead trees and removal of small trees near the ponds create open areas within the forest—quality habitat for a myriad of songbirds. This beaver family has been in the same pond for over ten years- cutting from the same re-generating groves of softwood trees. The original creators of sustainable forest management, they are also very social; forming often large, caring family groups. I feel we can learn much from these–our stewards of the land.
Music, Title: “Eternal Hope” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0