Archive for the ‘Beaver Behavior’ Category

Those trampy American Beavers….

Posted by heidi08 On March - 1 - 2015ADD COMMENTS

Canadians too. Apparently only the european beaver knows how to make a marriage work.

CaptureBeavers pair up for life and never cheat

European beavers are truly monogamous, but the same cannot be said of their North American counterparts

Most animals aren’t the marrying kind. Less than five percent are believed to pair together for life, and even if they do stay together they do plenty of cheating.  But not European beavers. Not only do they pair up for life, a new genetic analysis shows that they are faithful to each other.

 A team led by Pavel Munclinger from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic took samples from several European beaver colonies living in the Kirov region of Russia. They then analysed the genetic relationships among family groups.

 In every colony, all the offspring belonged to both of the parents. None of them had been fathered by males from elsewhere.

The same cannot be said for their American counterparts. North American beavers are known to mate with beavers other than their bonded partners.

 They cheat a lot. In 2008, researchers discovered that the “father” of a pair of young was unrelated to at least one of them about half of the time.

I knew all this monogamy business was a smokescreen! How many times have I been watching our beavers and seen mom bat her come-hither eyes at the nearest woody offering! (There’s a reason the word beaver has another meaning ya know…) We read this particular research they’re referring too back in 2008 in preparation for our historic prevalence paper. The authors referred to it as “opportunistic monogomy” and Rickipedia quipped that the term describes most males of the human species too. Ha.

Cheating does have its advantages. If a mother mates with a healthier male than her main partner, she can pass better genes onto her young.

 But there are also advantages to staying loyal. “Genetic monogamy lowers the risk of parasite transmission,” says Munclinger.

 ”It also lowers the risk of partner desertion, which is very important in species with extensive parental care of both sexes.”

 Staying faithful seems to serve the European beavers well. Their populations have been climbing in areas of the UK where they have been reintroduced.

It’s good that this news is being lauded in the British Press. They need another reason to like beavers and being told ‘theirs are better’ is a great way to convince the holdouts. In  a more sober consideration you have to wonder whether population density matters. And whether  having very little competition affects how faithful beavers chose to be. Most of Europe is as crammed with beaver as it is with people now and those beavers don’t cheat apparently. Our population is decimated and our beavers mate with anything they can get. Maybe the facts are related. Didn’t a pair from the (no beavers for 500 years) Scottish beaver trial hook up with other beavers?

We  American beaver-lovers will just continue being content with their slutty ways until the population gets fuller, I guess.

And in case you need more praises sung for beavers, here’s a fun reminder from Fairbanks Alaska

Rodents are remarkable creatures, not pests

If you only think of rodents as pests, you are missing out. One reason these animals are misunderstood is because there are so many of them. More, in fact, than any other kind of mammal, but they play an important role in the ecosystem.“

 Some of these rodents are referred to by ecologists as indicator species,” Nations says, “because they indicate the health of an ecosystem.”

 Another example is the role that beavers play in creating wetlands that are used by many bird species. Beaver ponds also can be convenient places to spot moose and muskrats are known to take up residence in beaver lodges, as well.

Theresa Baker ends the nice article by suggesting kids build a ‘rodent collection’ in their home, you know a clay porcupine with toothpick spines etc. Good idea, and I would definitely include one of these:


Inspired by the fact that a beaver kit is shaped exactly like a peanut. Peppercorn nose, lentil ears, black mustard seed eyes and pumpkin seed tail set in macaroni noodle, Worth A Dam original



Talking about beavers

Posted by heidi08 On February - 15 - 2015Comments Off

Beaver-in-Knapdale_eating-c-Steve-Gardner-660x496Knapdale scientists to discuss beaver studies

People interested in hearing about studies of Knapdale’s famous beavers are being invited to attend an event in Argyll next week.

The beavers were released in May 2009 by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland on land managed by Forestry Commission Scotland as part of the five-year Scottish Beaver Trial.

And a series of independent scientific research projects were carried out into the effects of the beavers on the area during the trial, which finished in May of last year.

Dr Martin Gaywood, of Scottish Natural Heritage, who managed the independent scientific monitoring of the trial, said: “We’re keen to bring local people up-to-date on the studies that have been carried out over the last five years.

 “There are some interesting and quite surprising results and this is a one-off opportunity to hear about them from the scientists themselves

Don’t you wish you could be there? I love that they’re taking the results straight to the public and starting the conversation. Of course I and Derek Gow and Paul and Louise Ramsey can’t be there because we’ll be in Oregon presenting at the Beaver Conference! In fact I actually present on the same day! Do you know what that means? They’re 8 hours ahead so for an entire 16 hours over the span of 6000 miles the people will be talking and learning about beavers.More if you count the days before and after! The planet will hum with beavers!

Isn’t that awesome?

Beavers causing headaches for Berrien Co. residents

Bad news for beavers in Berriens county Georgia, which is just a little above Florida. Our retired librarian friend BK says the region is very flat, with lots of beaver problems. Apparently when they rip out one beaver dam the road gets flooded. Say, I’ve got an idea for them! (Don’t rip it out)

Some of you might remember that Berrien county is the home of the beaver-kill tail contest that upset me so much I sent a pack of children’s beaver drawings to the commissioners many years ago. They were from our very first Earth Day event. I even had a friend of a friend in the state send them so it would look like they were coming from constituents. It did no good at all but it made me feel better. Apparently they are still up to their old tricks.

Also there must be PLENTY of alligators to keep their beavers in check!, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Too bad that culvert fence isn’t a trapezoid- or fenced on bottom, because you know beavers will be incorporating it into their dam soon.

Now I thought yesterday there needed to be a better graphic for a beaver conference. And I’m happy with this one.

the gathering

Beaver Art, Craft and Vandalism

Posted by heidi08 On February - 13 - 2015Comments Off

Ohhh whew. Thank goodness the heroes at Trout Unlimited got rid of those pesky cheerleaders just in time for the football team to arrive at the party. You know how much they hate hanging out with each other.

Capture1Tell me when fishermen are going to stop removing beaver dams as if they were water condoms, blocking the creek’s manly flows? I was alerted to this article from Joe Wheaton who was alerted by Chris Jordan of NOAA, so you know much smarter minds are trying to change this stubborn behavior. Apparently with little success in our middle states.

Much better article this morning from Manila of all places…

 Beavers, ecosystem engineers

Previously their dams are obliterated by dynamite and bulldozers because of causing flooding, but now they are becoming respected as a defense against the withering effects of a warmer and drier climate. They raise the water table alongside a stream, aiding the growth of trees and plants that stabilize the banks and prevent erosion. They improve fish and wildlife habitat and promote new rich soil. And most importantly beaver dams do what all dams do: hold back water that would otherwise drain away.

The beaver is famed for its industriousness and its building skills. Beavers burrow in the banks of rivers and lakes. But they also transform less suitable habitats by building dams. As a family moves into new territory, the beavers drop a large tree across a stream to begin a new dam, which creates a pond for their home called lodge. They cover it with sticks, mud and stones. As the water level rises behind the dam, it submerges the entrance to their lodge, which makes entry nearly impossible for any other animal. By constructing dams they create wetlands – lush environment which host a variety of animals, fish, birds, frogs and other creatures.

And why is it that people in the Philippines know why we should coexist with beaver but people in North America don’t? Well, I guess we should just be grateful and not speculate on whether it’s easier to admire beavers when you don’t actually have to deal with them plugging your culverts.

This morning I heard from Suzanne Fouty that she is coming to the state of the beaver conference and looking forward to my talk! I’m so excited! She said she was coming in 2011 but got tied up with another job. Then said 2013 but that didn’t work. Then she and Jari Osborne of the beaver documentary talked about coming to the beaver festival last year and that didn’t work out either.  Fingers crossed she and I will finally get to meet in person in five days time! In this clip she’s carrying the  backpack on the right.

Finally a smile sent by Rusty from Napa, whom you should all be getting ready to welcome because he’s taking over website duties while I’m in Oregon. (Thank you very much!) Now I would find this comic very witty IF I hadn’t already seen Dad beaver personally do that when kits brought wood to the dam. He’d let them enthusiastically stick it in any which way, appear to approve, watch them swim away and then very quietly move it to the proper place.  :-)



“That change is too ‘changey’.”

Posted by heidi08 On February - 9 - 2015Comments Off

Looks like Ohio has decided to return to its natural shape so our opinion of them won’t need to be adjusted any time soon. Remember that cool story from Yellow Springs where people were advocating for beaver benefits and wanting to coexist? Well apparently Hamlet was right.

         virtue cannot
so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it.
Act 3 Scene 1

Or in other words, that council-driven  leopard rarely changes its spots.

Council nixes grant for wetland

At their Jan. 20 meeting, Village Council delivered a setback to a group of local environmentalists who sought to develop a management plan for a wetlands on the Glass Farm. The group requested Council’s approval for a federal grant application that would provide funding to help manage the wetland, increase species diversity and also find solutions for flood control and other neighbors’ concerns.

 “Yellow Springs could become a model” for how to balance the needs of wildlife and humans in wetlands development, according to Nadia Malarkey, a member of the newly reconstituted Environmental Commission, which sought Council approval for the grant.

 But the majority of Council worried that the group was moving too quickly, and that a grant would lock Village government into a project it has not fully embraced, and which may have unintended consequences.

 “I don’t think this is a bad idea …” said Village Manager Patti Bates, who recommended against the grant application at this time. “I’m concerned that we’re rushing into this without proper preparation.”

And how much preparation does YS usually take before killing beavers and destroying wetlands? Oh that’s right. None.  You were THIS CLOSE to getting this right. It is so frustrating to see how remarkable efforts can still be tossed aside.

The grant would have provided funding for developing a management plan for the area and to purchase fencing that would protect trees, create new flow-devices if necessary to control flooding and remove invasive species, according to the proposal. Overall, the grant-funded activities would enhance efforts to allow beavers and humans to share the area, according to EC member Duard Headley.

However, several Council members feared the grant would pave the way to a commitment to the wetland that they had not signed on for when they approved funding the original “beaver deceiver” flow-through device.

I’m sorry for the derailing of this particular wetlands train bound for glory, but I’ve not run  out of hope yet – and you shouldn’t either. These are a smart group of people doing the right thing for the right reasons.

The resulting wetland has led to a significant increase in new species in the area, according to Hennessy, who presented a slideshow of photos of the area taken by neighbor Scott Stolsenberg. The photos show great blue herons, red-winged blackbirds, indigo buntings, great egrets, red-shouldered hawks, grey catbirds, cedar waxwings, green frogs, snapping turtles and other wildlife that live near water.

 “Beavers are a keystone species that create an environment that ____supports other species,” Hennessy said. “Most of these species would not be here without the wetlands.”

 Several neighbors who support the wetlands spoke in support of the project.

 “The change in the last three years has been amazing. It’s like a second Glen,” said Lew Trelawny-Cassity, who said he and his young children enjoy watching the birds and animals. “This is a great place for families. It impacts the neighborhood in a positive way.”

As alarming as change for the better is – it is for the better. Eventually even the city council will see the writing on the wall and have the sense to steal credit for the idea instead of looking stupid and out of touch by preventig it.

Ours did.

I worked yesterday using my ‘negative space beavers’ to put together a short film. I decided to use the audio from Ellen Wohl’s excellent interview on Santa Fe Radio a few years ago. I think it works rather well.

I also talked to Michael Howie of Fur Bearer Defender Radio and Jari Osborne of the beaver documentary about getting my poem recorded in resonant tones so I can make a video. We’ll see but I’m expecting great things.

Finally a bonus prize this morning, because a friend from Florida sent a photo of a mystery bug that research showed was really surprising. I thought you’d be interested.Picture1

The Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora , is a moth species that mimics wasps as a means of survival. Since the harmless moth resembles a stinging wasp, many predators will give leave it alone. Here’s the amazing part: the adult male moth extracts toxins known as ‘pyrrolizidine alkaloids’ from Dogfennel Eupatorium (Eupatorium capillifolium) and showers these toxins over the female prior to mating. This is the only insect known to transfer a chemical defense in this way.”

Beaver Speaks

Posted by heidi08 On February - 8 - 2015Comments Off

 Devon’s wild beaver colony to be tagged and named

Devon’s family of wild beavers could become stars of the internet with pet names to match under plans to monitor how the animals live.

Details of a scheme to capture and fit the creatures with coloured ear rings for identification have been revealed, a move that will “inevitably” lead to the creatures being given individual names, conservationists have said.

Devon’s wild beaver colony to be tagged and named

The colony is to be micro-chipped and tagged as part of plans by the Environment Department (Defra) to test the creatures for disease before they are released back to the River Otter by April.

 Devon Wildlife Trust has revealed the details of the first trial of its kind in England and Wales to monitor a group in the wild.

 Hidden cameras will film the creatures at work and play to observe their habits and make sure they do not damage the landscape or cause annoyance to any of the dozens of nearby landowners

Hmm, I have an idea. Since these are the only supposed beavers in the entire country, how about you could tell them apart from the other beavers that are NOT THERE by just looking. Well, never pass up a choice to put a chip in an animals head appears to be the national motto. It’s better than putting them in the zoo at least, and I’m sure DEFRA wanted radio tags on their tails, so this is kinder. But honestly. Bagged and tagged?

Now I have a treat for you, that I meant to share yesterday. Robert Redford’s Nature is Speaking. Have you seen them? Every single one of these is worth watching, but I’ll just share two. I love how willing he is to squeeze every bit out of his considerable weight to get this done by famous actors. I love how unapologetic and brilliantly harsh they are. Don’t take care of nature because it’s nice or because it’s cute. Nature will take care of itself. Endanger it at your peril.

Don’t you want to see the one about beavers? I’d be happy to do the script.

I’ve been around
in one form or another
for 55 million years.
My ancestors date from the Eocene period
ἠώς (eos, dawn)
I was here before the sunrise
And I’ll be here after it sets
I invented the words “Conserve” and “Recycle”
but I never, ever need to say them.
The lesson you need to learn
I could teach you.
I survived the warmest climate this planet has endured
and the coldest one yet seen.
I was the first to return after the volcanic eruption of Mt St Helen’s
And the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl.
I build mountains without an opposable thumb
walk miles without comfort or shelter
Swim oceans with nothing to drink
Endure winters without food
The only thing I couldn’t survive
was your Greed.
It nearly ended me.
Your Greed is insatiable
And next time,
It won’t be me that it kills.

I love that. Anyone have Mr. Redford’s email address?

Now tonight you might be sitting at home watching the Grammy’s so I thought I’d start you out with a beaver favorite. You know they sing this every time the lithe otters slink by. I’m addicted to this cover. How do we get her to sing at the beaver festival?

mirror mirror

Yearling grooming on dam: Cheryl Reynolds

A well-made tool finds many uses…

Posted by heidi08 On February - 7 - 2015Comments Off

Okay, first of all, I am getting very sick of all the downhill championships in Beaver  Creek CO  because it means most of the alerts I receive are about skiing. And second of all the next time a woman brings a kangaroo into McDonald’s they better not do it in Beaver Dam WI because I have gotten literally a million alerts about that story. Work hazard I guess, but because this recent headline is so clever I’ll share the pain. Believe me this story has been in 60 papers before any copy editor was smart enough to think up that one.

Hoppy Meal: Woman tossed out of McDonald’s after taking ‘therapy’ kangaroo to lunch

The strange situation took place last Friday, but was just reported recently. At 11:41am, Diana Moyer entered a McDonald’s in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, with a baby kangaroo accompanying her. Moyer and her husband, Larry, actually own five kangaroos at their home, according to the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen, and they have been taking the young animal to that same McDonald’s for three months. Moyer told police the kangaroo was a service animal whose use had been approved by a doctor, but the argument did not convince police, who said that customers did not feel safe. Moyer left after this and no tickets were issued.

This is the kind of story they like to blame on California. But not this time.

Third of all I just want to say that the beaver silhouettes made for us from our photos by Libby Corliss are the most useful gift we’ve ever been given. But unfortunately the file is too small and I need a Adobe wizard to make it bigger. If that’s you PLEASE help!

silhouettes combined

Now as for my beaver negative space project, did you really think I would stop at three?

Bwater  bbirds BCalifornia

There’s been such interest in this project that I would consider doing a calendar IF the silhouettes were larger files. They’re too small at the moment to print. But I’m trying to fix that. Wish beavers luck!

Immitation is the Sincerest form of Flattery

Posted by heidi08 On February - 6 - 2015Comments Off

9008_638290099610159_4507292353550062419_nThe otter folk are having a welcome back party and silent auction. I know because one of their offerings will be a beaver safari proved by yours truly. They posted this announcement the other day, which was prepared for Barry Deutsch and Lori Wynn formerly of  the top notch SF design firm Deutsch Design Works. I loved the brilliant idea of using the silhouettes as negative space, but sadly no SF graphics firm was around to help.. So I sat down with my inadequate skills and tools and tried to see what I could accomplish.

Since I don’t have photo shop I have to get buy with three inadequate programs, with which I can only make one thing transparent, not both the figure and the ground. The finished product has more white than I wish, but it came out alright. Now I am totally addicted to this and can’t seem to stop myself. As you can see the possibilities are endless.

 bwetlandsBsalmonBstreams The inspiration for all this is the Otter event which promises to be great fun, attracting the very best sorts of people. You should really go. And when you do stop by and say thank you again!