Because the beaver isn't just an animal; it's an ecosystem!

The Martinez Beavers

Dam Confusing

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right angle beaver dam

I spent a delightful morning watching mom fastidiously repair the secondary dam. Junior helped a little, and a kit was happily munching some willow in the cove. Mom did an excellent, thoughtful job, moving mud, bringing branches and stopping every trickle. She started at repair “A” and worked so steadily that soon no water was flowing there at all. In fact with the new security in place area B started leaking. She kept working on A for a while and I wondered if she was stuck in her routine and unable to pay attention to the new problem.

Almost as if she could hear my thoughts (or feel the current) she swam over to investigate B. Then started laying mud on its surface, and patching the edges with sticks. Soon there was no more tricking sounds on A or B or anywhere else for that matter. A kit filled the silence with a whine, which might have been “come play with me”. This she ignored at first. Then swam about enough  to get him to come over to her side. She continued on the dam, and he gave a little poke to it with his nose. I’m sure she was proud.

Bring your “kit” to work day!

The secondary dam has been in roughly the same place and pretty much the same shape for five years. It has been ripped out with a bulldozer by city staff, and squashed flat by massive flow and still rebuilt exactly the same way. Until now. What I don’t understand is why suddenly it has a new apparently carefully maintained right angle. Mom clearly has the commitment and the skill to fix it any way she choses, and she has willing helpers near by. They have materials and mud aplenty. It’s not that they’re in a hurry or not up to the job. So why the Escher stair structure?

There are of course beaver dams with lovely curves that turn to accommodate flow or an existing trunk in the stream. There are beaver dams that snake for miles in undulating waves.

I will of keep researching the subject the way I usually do, but at this moment, as far as I know Martinez has the only beaver dam in existence with a right angle.

How beavers plug pipes - Cheryl Reynolds
How beavers plug pipes – Cheryl Reynolds