Backyard Wildlife: Thanksgiving at the Beaver Lodge

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It was unusually cold here over Thanksgiving weekend, but we thought we’d take a walk around the frozen pond and show our guest the beaver lodge we found late last summer. We noticed that is was much bigger than when we last visited in September.

SONY DSCAnd the fresh remains of the beaver’s Thanksgiving dinner were just to the right of the lodge – a freshly felled tree has been stripped of some of its bark and been heavily munched (beavers prefer to eat bark and the wood directly beneath it, called cambium). The wood was eaten so recently, in fact, the wood was still damp, even on a cold day. Was it watching us?

SONY DSCThere are trees in this condition all around the pond, but there was no sign of a beaver…until…we looked under the ice! There it was, speeding through the water and looking more like a platypus than a beaver. We had never seen one under the ice before, but a little research revealed that their thick fur protects them from the frigid water; their glands also secrete oil that keeps their fur waterproof (this also explains the popularity of beaver fur hats and coats in the trapping and trading days of the 1800s).

SONY DSCThe ice on the pond is thicker than it looks, and did not give under a carefully placed boot at the shoreline.

We were at least 75 yards from the lodge when we spotted it, so where did it come up for air? Here:

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While we were inspecting his home, he was over here having a snack of sticks and pine needles.

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But wait…was it a she? The presence of a sizable lodge indicates that there may be a pair of beavers living on our pond. With a little luck, we may be writing something about beaver babies next spring.

 

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