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Beaver and Backflips

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 21 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

I’m sure there are moments as a parent you see your child investing hours into some impossible scheme and you are full of misgivings but you want to appear positive. So try to smile as they walk out the door to try their new invention even though you know it’s impossible. (Mind you, I’m not talking a dangerous invention of course -like mechanical buzzard wings that let you fly off the garage roof) but a harmless and highly impractical one, like reversible forks so that you can use the other side for dessert with washing the dishes.

You know there’s a better way. But you know it’s best to let them find out on their own.

This is how I feel about the newish Crestview Wildlife rehab Center in Alabama. They (she) opened their doors in 2016 in Ashton and after the flooding this May rescued a baby beaver. Now the beaver is 4 months older and eating everything in sight – the article says it’s costing 70 bucks a week to feed. But it also says that Willow has learned to do backflips and has had his final swim lesson for the season, so I’m not so what is true, exactly.

Willow shows growth in learned survival skills

2937463-BThe now four month old beaver named Willow, who was displaced during the flooding in May, has been growing by leaps and bounds, according to local rehabber Rebecca Gage. Willow was taken to Gage in late May of this year, after he was discovered in a parking lot near the Spring River. The then four-week-old beaver was not only displaced, but was unable to fend for himself.

After being brought to Gage, she began the journey into the two year rehabbing process which will lead to Willow’s eventual release back into nature.

“Normally they stay with their mothers for the first two years of their life and they stay close to mom and she teaches them everything. I can’t teach him everything but I can provide him the materials to practice with,” Gage said.

So far so good. This might be the luckiest beaver IN Alabama. She obviously knows about the 2 years with mom, and that beavers eat Willow because she named it. So maybe things will be okay?

The now 25 pound beaver was taken on his final swimming trip for the season Sept. 5 and Gage said he is right on track according to his rehab plan.  Since coming to live at the Crestview Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Willow has been learning how to be a beaver. Although there is a certain level of natural instinct, Willow has to be taught how to do most everything from specific swimming skills in the water to building his home.

“They kind of learn how to swim but before, all he could do was float but now he’s learning to dive. He can do back flips and has become very good at doing his directions in the water and he is up to par. Today, he learned how to do the crab crawl and that was the last thing he really needed to learn,” Gage said referring to his newfound ability to forage on the river bottom for food.

Part of Willow’s raising includes helping him to grow large enough in order to protect himself from the elements like he would do in nature.

“There are things that they need that they would eat in the wild that I’m not able to collect in order to give him a well rounded diet. So in order to help him get the nutrition he needs and help him to build blubber, I give him other things like avocados, kale, spinach, yams, apples, pears, whatever I can but just no citrus. Because fall is coming in, he’s a bottomless pit and will just eat and eat.”

With the current food bill for Willow running upwards of $70 per week, Gage said she is looking for produce from farmers which she can use to feed Willow with. Produce which may be unfit to sell or blemished would still serve a purpose in helping Willow to grow to his full potential.

I won’t even mention the avocados. Or the Kale. But back flips? Back flips? BACK FLIPS? Okay, even I who have reviewed beaver myths on four continents for 10 years cannot imagine a person saying a beaver can do back flips. Even in the WATER.  Maybe she said somersaults and the reporter wrote it down wrong. Maybe she said wood chips and the reporter heard it wrong. Maybe I’m a year older and my eyes just read it wrong.

And she got this part right:

When asked why Gage has dedicated so much of her finances and time to rehabbing Willow, she explained that he is a keystone creature and vital to the environment.

“They’re a keystone species and I know some people view them as destructive but when they’re building a dam, they’re really being constructive. It provides good hunting and is an ideal aquatic ecosystem for many other things like fish,” Gage said.

Okay, maybe that is the highest praise a beaver is going to get in Arkansas. We’ll take it.

Although his swimming lessons have come to an end until the spring, Willow will continue to learn how to be a beaver as he practices building shelter and more during the winter season.

“My rehab plan for him is to move him into a bigger enclosure and build a deck around the trough and give him a small dog house to start out with as his lodge. He will pull sticks and stuff into it to work on his house. I have a four foot hole dug to collect rain water and give him a constant source of mud. He has to have three things; vegetation, mud and sticks, to build a lodge and in order to succeed in the wild he has to have that skill,” Gage said. “His release could be sooner if he masters that skill.”

When I first read this I thought well maybe it’s the last time he can be in the pond before it freezes. But this is ARKANSAS. It isn’t going to  freeze.  Ever. Why can’t he swim after September? Why can’t he swim every day? Why isn’t he eating the food he will be eating in the wild? Why do I feel worried about his future?

Gage explained that because Willow has spent time with humans, he may not be as cautious as he would be had he grown up in the wild entirely.

“Beavers can be a nuisance, but they don’t eat fish and are perfect for helping create an ecosystem for many others [plant life, fish, and more],” Gage said.

Ohh good luck little Willow. Here’s hoping the instinct takes over and you start building a dam across your trough soon. Let’s hope that another beaver gets ‘dislocated’ soon and you have a little buddy to make your way together.

And as for me, let’s just hope that someday I am so patient and attentive that I get to see a little beaver doing a backflip. Because, we all know, I deserve it.


Had a fine day yesterday, thanks for the good wishes, and I wanted to share the coolest birthday card ever received by man or beast. Jon outdid himself.

Need a hand with that?

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 20 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

What do you know. Scotland is still trying to make up its mind. With studies like this I sure hope it takes a good long time.

Beavers Helpful Rebuilding Wetlands

A new study researched in Scotland reveals beavers’ ability to engineer desolate land into thriving wetlands.

Four beavers were re-introduced to the land and observed for a decade. The observations found that the beavers created almost 200m of dams, 500m of canals and an acre of ponds. The landscape was “almost unrecognizable” from the original field, which now includes an increase plant species of almost 50% and richly varied habitats established across the 30 acre site.

The researchers say that their study is solid evidence that beavers can be a low-cost option in restoring wetlands, an important and biodiverse habitat that has lost two-thirds of its worldwide extent since 1900.

“Wetlands also serve to store water and improve its quality – they are the ‘kidneys of the landscape’,” said Professor Nigel Willby, at Stirling University and one of the study team. Earlier research by the team showed how beaver dams can slow water flows, reducing downstream flood risk and water pollution.

Beavers build dams in order to create pools in which they can shelter from their biggest predators, besides humans. These predators are bears, wolves and wolverines. The research was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The site was regularly surveyed and located near Blairgowrie in Tayside where two beavers were released in 2002 and began to breed in 2006. The lifespan of beavers is 10-15 years in the wild and the average number of beavers around during the study was four.

After 12 years of habitat engineering by beaver, the study site was almost unrecognizable from its initial state,” the scientists concluded: “The reintroduction of such species may yet prove to be the missing ingredient in successful and sustainable long-term restoration of wetland landscapes.”

Well of course it was! That’s what beavers do! But go ahead and study it again just to make sure. I like reading things like this over and over. It’s like going back to the “wooing stage” of a relationship. Who doesn’t love that?

He said wetland restoration usually involves ditch blocking and mowing or grazing to maintain diversity: “Beavers offer an innovative, more hands-off, solution to the problem of wetland loss. Seeing what beavers can do for our wetlands and countryside highlights the diverse landscape we have been missing for the last 400 years.”

Now that’s what I want to hear! Of course it’s the perfect day for giving Heidi at least some of what she wants (and since Mueller doesn’t appear to be done investigating yet, Scotland will do nicely!)

leslie helpingThank you to Leslie Mils our newest Worth A Dam-er for this awesome Birthday card. OF course I looked up the artist who lives in Grass Valley. I thought about hitting him up for a donation but then I saw some of his other cards like a moose saying “Nice hooters” to a pair owls and I thought maybe no? Anyway I am always very impressed when someone manages to find me a beaver card I haven’t seen before!

Jo Severn_0053

The unseen guest at every watertable

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 19 - 2017ADD COMMENTS
English Wildlife Painting Hd HD Desktop Background

English Wildlife Painting Hd HD Desktop Background

I was searching around for images of ponds. I came across this lovely one that seemed to be missing someone important. Ahem.

 

I posted it on FB and said as much. Which prompted our beaver friend Art Wolinsky of New Hamshire to fix it with photoshop. Much better. 21551650_10154720205631498_7763858839390167895_o

My enthusiasm must have egged him on because then he put this short film together.I liked it so much I talked him into adding the last bit. I think you’ll know why.


We are having quite an adventure in beaver-less Mendocino. (Some were introduced in little river in the 20’s but they have mostly died off or were killed. We did see one beaver once on Big River nearly 20 years ago when we were canoeing. And were rewarded with are very first tail slap.

Ahh memories.

No beavers now, but we did have a special visitor yesterday, which I was told by Megan Isadore of the River Otter Ecology Project  is a Sheep Moth. Isn’t she beautiful?