Archive for the ‘Beaver Behavior’ Category

Beaver magnets

Posted by heidi08 On May - 21 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

DSC_5863This is filmmaker Marcy Cravat, who’s working currently on a new documentary about soil. She is particularly interested in the way beaver ponds capture carbon and how important they are to dealing with climate change.

Marcy and her husband paid a visit last night to the worlds easiest to see beavers. And the beavers did not disappoint. We saw four, with only one coming from above the primary dam. The others all in the bank hole near the footbridge. During the day Jon very heroically kayaked the pond and cleaned every bit of trash out of that creek, although he was most annoyed when high tide brought a floating soda can downstream right back to center of the dam.

Marcy was treated to several lovely beaver moments, and only 1 tail slap. Including the smallest family member working on the dam with excellent developing skills.  I think she left with enough beaver sightings to have her interests thoroughly peaked.

No  kits yet in Napa either, although there have been nice photos from the folk who are waiting for them. Rusty Cohn sent this turtle train a couple days ago,

turtle RC

Turtles in Tulocay beaver pond: Rusty Cohn

And Robin watched this beaver last night and wanted to know if we were dealing with an elder?


White-whiskered beaver in Tulocay pond, Napa: Robin Ellison

We are still trying to track down that lovely plant the beaver is enjoying sticking out of the water. The closest we’ve come is Ludwigia, which is a very common invasive aquatic plant in the napa river watershed. I’m not so sure. Because our beavers almost never eat anything people wish they would. So I’m still holding out for more information.  Robin’s white whiskered beaver reminded me of this film though, from so long ago, which was fun to revisit.

About that beaver call…

Posted by heidi08 On May - 19 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

There was a fair amount of interest in the ‘beaver call’ video I posted a few days ago. Drs Lixing-Sun and Bekoff had never heard it before and thought the beaver was an adult and sounded distressed. Neither of which I agreed with. The more pragmatic Skunk Whisperer from Oklahoma had the interesting observation that the beaver was actually IMITATING the human. Whoa. Then a favorite rehabber with massive ground experience with actual beavers sent me this story. She said I could share it but not her name because of the unusual (but totally understandable) care conditions.

That was very neat!  The yearling sure seemed to be responding to the human’s call. Who knows what the human was saying? Whether he was mimicking the person or responding to him, it was a little yearling communicating with the person.

We once had a beaver who we hand raised. When he got critically ill (Tyzzers disease), he was sleeping with us.”Bruce” always slept right in my arms. Every morning the alarm would ring and I’d moan and reach over to hit the snooze button, One morning after about a week, the alarm rang and before I could groan Bruce began moaning. It was hysterical. Every morning after that he’d do it.

He would often mimic the tone of my voice of things I’d say frequently. One time he had an accident and when I walked in he said UH OH in the same tones my voice would say it. Of course he couldn’t enunciate it, but he got the sounds right with his whiny voice. So it would not surprise me if that beaver was imitating the person calling to him.

Hahaha! Now that I can believe. Experience trumps research! I can totally imagine that happening. And it is hysterical to think of these careful lurking trappers trying to master what they think will lure a beaver, and actually just giving the beaver something to learn to copy! Beaver mocking birds!

stained glassI discovered a new free tool on the internet playground yesterday. In case you want to play too it’s called FLAMING TEXT and here’s the link. You enter in the word you want and then ‘shop’ for all kinds of logos, backgrounds and fonts. Then tweak it to your satisfaction by adding or removing colors, glows, etc. I have only made it through ten pages of options and there are several. It would be a great pass-time if you were recovering from knee surgery or waiting for Godot.

Which means it is very, very dangerous.beaver lettering bluegrnI made the above graphic yesterday to match our logo and make letterhead, because I spent the day imploring folks to give to the silent auction at the beaver festival. Zoos, museums, amusement parks, cruises, excursions, you name it, I asked for it. You’ve heard of “Dialing for dollars”? Well this was Begging for Beavers. We’ll see what it generates. At least it looked looked beaversWe even got our  insurance yesterday for the festival, which meant we could turn in the application for the park permit. Now we need to coordinate the exhibits so that people show up for the grand event! Of course the really fun thing would be to combine the images with graphics to make something impressive.  I decided I had to try and get this message out. If I can’t send it to the governor at least I can submit it with payment in every water bill.

Blue Watersavers

A silly thing and three special things

Posted by heidi08 On May - 17 - 20151 COMMENT

First the silly thing….

Beaver cuts tree down, starts grass fire south of Saskatoon

Capture SASKATOON – A beaver caused a large grass fire Saturday, according to the Saskatoon Fire Department. The blaze was located near Valley Road, south of the city near The Berry Barn.  The fire department says the animal chew ed down a poplar tree which fell on a power line.

Those beaver arsonists are the worst! Smoking in bed, starting fires with their appetizer course, with zero regard for personal property. They obviously don’t know how hard it is to put up those power lines in the first place.

Now, let’s share in the wondrous developments at the Napa beaver pond, where Rusty has been patiently waiting for a glimpse of the new kits. Of course while he’s waiting there’s lots to see. Check out this weekends bounty.

He even got video of two otters at the sight having a little tussle. Megan of ROEP thinks it mighthave something to do with mating. How exciting!

Now for this truly stunning photograph brought to my attention by someone I can’t yet bring to your attention. Isn’t this BEAUTIFUL?

kit ride

This is the kind of photo that every wildlife watcher dreams of getting. That perfect moment when opportunity crosses your path and everything goes right. He writes that it’s a mother carrying her kit, which is a fair assumption. But we in Martinez know it might not be true. The most stunning footage I ever got was dad carrying both kits. And we only know that because of mom’s beautiful tail clue.

This is the kind of photo that saves beavers, so I hope Jeff doesn’t mind too much if I share. You can see Jeff’s remarkable work on flickr here.

And finally the best for last. Now pull up a chair and gather close because this is really important. First, a little background. In the films about Grey Owl they describe him doing a special call to bring the beavers. The way a duck call brings ducks. Which I would have ignored as silly if I hadn’t also read in a book about someone who hand-reared kits in Canada who said that their brother was a trapper and he taught her to call beavers. She noted that it was so powerful she would never teach anyone else because she didn’t want trappers to use it. So I was curious.

And then there’s Bernie Krause’s amazing recording of the beaver after the dam and his family was blown up. It sounds very much like he is mourning. But I after I heard it I always wondered if he was calling to find them. (Which is what we would do if our homes were blown up and we weren’t sure if our family members were inside.) I discussed this idea with him, but he was fairly disinterested. But then yesterday – out of NOWHERE – I stumbled on this.

I know that readers of this site mostly don’t click on the videos. Life is busy and who has time? Believe me when I say you want to see this. (I was so scared it would end badly I practically watched it with my eyes closed the first time. But nothing bad happens, trust me.) And this is really, really worth your time.

(I trust if you know any trappers, you won’t show it to them.) And honestly, don’t practice this call on our beavers because they’ve been through enough. But isn’t that amazing? Do you realize what this means? It means parents call kits. And beavers call each other. I am sure this is a youngish beaver, looking for his family. What surprised me was not only that it existed, but how very different the sound is from a kit whining. Almost like loud nasal mooing. Also I could hear the similarity in the young beaver answers, and hear how similar it is to our kits whining. It made me think that beaver kits are imitating adult speech – just like children!

Honestly, this is a big deal. Such a big deal that I got an email last night from Bernie Krause himself.

SWAP places with the beaver…

Posted by heidi08 On May - 16 - 2015Comments Off

Beaver takes stroll down aisles of Alaska hardware store before being foiled in plumbing


Beaver at Lowe’s in Fairbanks
A beaver pauses in the middle of an aisle at the Lowe’s store in Fairbanks, Alaska, Friday, May 15, 2015. The beaver triggered the automatic doors and strolled inside, where it wandered around the aisles until workers were able to corral it under a box. Alaska Fish and Game officials relocated the animal to a more suitable location. Photo courtesy of Angelesa Ward

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – A beaver walked into an Alaska hardware store on Friday, but couldn’t find anything for his lodge.

 The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports ( the beaver triggered the automatic doors and walked into Lowe’s about 7 a.m. Friday.

 Employees trapped the beaver with a cardboard box in the plumbing department. A state wildlife biologist was called.

 Hollis released the beaver into the Tanana River, far enough from town where it won’t be a nuisance.

 Lowe’s assistant manager Adam Vanhoveln says the beaver didn’t cause too much of a commotion, and it didn’t reach the lumber department.

 My goodness dispersal season is exciting. And terrifying. Anything could happen. Someone in the video on the website observes that he appears to be bleeding. Which isn’t surprising when you consider how low he is to the ground and all the distance he had to travel from the water. Beavers have keen senses of smell.  Maybe he went in because he could scent the lumber? Well hopefully he wasn’t too badly injured and can stick to the water from now on.

Ongoing beaver drama from Ada MI.

Neighbors battle over beavers in condo pond


Ohhh this is turning out to be very, very interesting. Mr. Hughes hasn’t written me back yet, but you can see he is a thoughtful man who’s done his homework. Assuming he’s looked for beaver information on the web at all he’s seen this website and knows where to find us. Good luck beaver champion! Let us know if you need any help!

In case anyone else wants homework this weekend, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has just released their SWAP assessment (state wildlife action plan) which they do every 10 years. This includes public review dates. They’ll be taking public comment through the end of the month. Go here to read about their wildlife plan or tell them something in particular about beavers.

Sacramento — May 22, 2015, 9-11 am, Resources Building Auditorium, 1416 Ninth St.,

Oakland —May 28, 2015, 2-4 pm, Joseph P. Bort Metro Center Auditorium, 101 Eighth St.,

San Diego —June 3, 2015, 1:30-3:30 pm, Chula Vista Women’s Club Reception Hall, 357 G St., Chula Vista

Los Angeles — June 4, 2015, 2-4 pm, Los Angeles Zoo Witherbee Auditorium, 5333 Zoo Dr., Los Angeles (Does not include zoo admission)

If you think CDFW is doing a great job with beaver management, then let them carry blithely on. But if you (like me) have some ideas for improvement spend some time wading through the materials and let them hear from you by email or in person. If this all seems inconvenient look on the bright side. At least the oakland meeting doesn’t charge admission.


Posted by heidi08 On May - 8 - 2015Comments Off

Great new article from the North Coast Land Conservancy in Oregon. Check it out for yourself:


Beavers, and beaver believers, transform Stanley Marsh

The waterway formerly known as Ditch Creek, trickling into Stanley Marsh on the east side of Seaside, is undergoing an incredible transformation—or perhaps incredible is the wrong word. In fact, it is exactly what you would expect to see after you take a few simple steps to invite beavers into the landscape.

It was suggested to the developer that he consider compensating for the loss of the wetlands at his place of business by enhancing the wetland at Stanley Marsh. Doug Ray of Carex Consulting is a former board member and big fan of NCLC; he was able to create a plan for his client that matched NCLC’s vision of stewardship for the property: rather than bringing in lots of heavy equipment to reshape the land according to a human’s idea of restoration, take simple steps to create the conditions that would encourage nature’s own wetland engineers—beavers—to do it.

For their part, the beavers are just taking care of themselves, creating and growing ponds that allow them to travel by water and avoid terrestrial predators. In that process, they’re also creating refuges for juvenile salmon, shorebirds such as snipes, songbirds such as bluebirds that use the hummocks in the marsh—all those species and many more have been spotted in the newly inundated marsh this spring. “This diversity of life—it can’t be there without what beavers do,” Doug says. “They’re a keystone species.”

It’s definitely not a ‘ditch creek’ anymore. It’s like Beavertopia.”

Fantastic work and an excellent new word from Doug Ray! This is smart beaver-assisted restoration which will quickly make the beaver rounds I’m sure. I must confess that my favorite part is when they put in the ‘starter dam’ to attract the beavers, but the beavers decided to build their own from scratch 3 feet upstream! Nobody knows creeks better than beavers.

The article has the misfortune to start out with this photo described as a beaver. Ahem.

This is probably a relative of the beavers currently working Stanley Marsh; Neal Maine caught this beaver in action at Thompson Creek a couple of years ago.

I don’t blame Neal. It looks exactly like this photo of a “beaver” from the famous High Country News Article.


There’s a reason they look alike. And it’s because neither of them are beavers. They’re both muskrats as we know too well here at beaver central. I wrote HCN ages ago to change this, but they decided in their infinite wisdom to ignore me. So let’s see if NCLT is more responsive.

Never mind. It’s a great article. And if more people follow its advice they will all end up seeing the real thing more often and being able to tell the difference for themselves!

If you hadn’t figured it out already, all involved (including staff at the land management agencies) are thrilled with the outcome; the project’s success has exceed all expectations. “It’s just this miracle that results from letting the beavers do their work,” as Doug puts it.

“I kept my faith in the beavers.”

As should we all, Doug.  Nicely put.

There’s some nice new research from Cherie Westbrook in Alberta, who might want to re-estabilsh her beaver cred after  her silly ‘beaver cause global warming’ research last year. This is much better, and is featured today in science news.

Flood planners should not forget beavers

MONTREAL — Busy beavers can curtail rising floodwaters, new research shows. The work suggests that beaver dams can provide natural flood protection and that officials should consider encouraging beaver construction projects as part of flood prevention plans, the researchers say.

As 19 centimeters of rain soaked Alberta, Canada, over three days in June 2013, Westbrook, of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, and colleagues monitored beaver dams along a stream. Water levels behind the dams rose 10 to 50 centimeters during the storm, postponing and reducing the peak surge of water flowing down the stream.

During the rainstorm, a 10-meter-wide breach burst open in one of the dams, causing a torrent of water to gush downstream. Surprisingly, despite the large rupture, the damaged dam still held back 15 centimeters of water as the storm progressed.

Excellent! It must be great to be a beaver researcher looking into benefits. Because you never run out of material. I’m sure as the climate changes they’ll be contrasting poles of interest all across the world. Beaver dams help flooding. Beaver dams help drought.

Don’t you sometimes get the feeling that no matter what science finds people will ignore it and kill them anyway? I mean we’re already ignoring their impact on salmon, trout, frogs,  drought, flooding. I suppose tomorrow they might report that beaver dams reduce Alzheimer’s and we will still keep right on trapping them.


Stories with Pictures

Posted by heidi08 On May - 7 - 2015Comments Off

wiredDid you know 7 out of 10 depredation permits in California were issued to protect trees? I find it especially frustrating since it’s such an easy problem to solve. I’ve decided what beavers need most is effective ad campaigns. Where’s the Don Draper of the beaver world? (ha probably making beaver jokes in the back room). Until someone really talented comes along beavers are going to have to make do with me.

Last night we were at the dam trying hard to see  where our beavers were coming from. The secondary is SO high and tight that we assume there are kits in the bank hole above the footbridge. But last night we were surprised to see four beavers come down from the old lodge, over the ruined primary and down the creek to feed near the dam. They all took branches into the bank lodge near the footbridge. Savoring a treat? Or bringing a treat to new kits or mom? I wish we knew.

nh beaver

Juvenile Night heron & Beaver – Rusty Cohn

Rusty writes this morning how remarkable it is that just when you think you have identified a pattern, beavers seem to change it. He took this great photo last night at Tulocay pond in Napa.   I think it’s kind of like falling in love. You get to know a lot about the person. But if you’re lucky they still surprise you on an irregular basis.

I realized that while I think a lot about advertising beaver benefits, I never think about advertising this website. So I tried tried not to be shy and attempt a little promotional material. What do you think?


Kit Season

Posted by heidi08 On April - 30 - 2015Comments Off

Worth A Dam was visited by Canada and the Finnish Laplands yesterday. The first was a request from the CBC to use our ‘beaver crossing’ photo in an article. The second was a facebook contact about a beaver sighting in Finland, where they weren’t supposed to be and has scientists Duncan Haley very excited. We are a multi-national beaver operation apparently.

Regina beaver uses crosswalk, stairs to reach Wascana Lake

Capture I was just happy we got an actual request to use the image. Much better than simply stealing it.7580905_GApparently beavers are on the move all over. This report just turned up in Louisiana,

Beaver out for a stroll

Of course we know that these beavers are dispersers and immature two year-olds looking for their own territory. We see it every year, although we never know exactly when it happens. Sometime around February or March. I assumed it had already happen with our 2013 yearlings. That would mean our population is down to three. But last night Jean saw FOUR beavers. Which means we have to review our figures and rethink.

In all the years we’ve been watching beavers we’ve had one that didn’t disperse, a 2010 kit that stuck around for years afterwards. I often referred to him as the Useless Bookend because he was the exact same size as a very helpful kit who dispersed according to schedule.  Do we have another UB? And Jean saw Mom, Dad, Jr and the UB? OR do we have a couple UBS and the kit wasn’t even seen? Or did all three stick around and Mom and Dad left? I’m soo confused.  Here are some photos she snatched with her iPhone.


Of course it especially matters because its KIT TIME. The very best time of the year. Check out the photo that Rusty managed to snap yesterday at the Napa Beavers. Looks like Napa’s got kits. I wonder about Martinez?

Sonoma teats

Which makes it just the right time for this video I made with Moses’ footage years ago. There is only one Heidi Clip in the entire thing. Can you find it?