21 January 2010

Beaver's unfinished business

Although I have seen a beaver (Castor canadensis) only once during the last 15 years or so, I know that they are quite common around here. They leave behind abundant evidence of their activities, including not only the trees they felled but also those whose trunks they gnawed on.


I photographed this young beech last weekend at a spot quite close to my house. The patches of scraped bark are telltale signs of a beaver's feeding activity. Here is a closer look that shows the marks left by the individual teeth.


If I get a chance this weekend I will check up on the same tree to see if it's still standing.

Some of the previous posts featuring beaver activities are here, here and here.


Julia said...

I love it! My parents have a beaver family living in the wet area behind their home in New Hampshire, and whenever we manage to sneak up on them swimming (rarely), they smack their tales loudly onto the surface of the water. It's really surprising!

fred schueler said...

Forest Beavers often have a pretty hard-scrabble menu, but Beech is, I think, at the far end of the unpalatablility spectrum -- "Beaver, in the always productive performance-art interface of two
Canadian icons, had been cutting Sugar Maples in the woods (Beavers do shy away from hard work, unless there's no Aspen or Willow on hand), producing curvaceous multiply-gnawed stumps, and leading us to wonder if they go after Maples mostly when the sap is running. The lodge off shore was armoured with freshly debarked long straight sticks of Red & Sugar Maple and Ash -- some homes boast of hardwood flooring, but this one had hardwood roofing." - 22 May 2009, Mac Johnson wildlife Area, Brockville, Ont. - http://groups.google.com/group/naturelist/browse_frm/month/2009-05?hl=en


Julia: the only time I saw a beaver it also smacked its tail.

Fred: According to Müller-Schwarze & Sun (2003), in New York the beavers' order of preference for trees is aspen, willow, birch, black cherry, beech, juneberry, hornbeam, maple...So, I guess in the dead of the winter a hungry beaver wouldn't turn down a beech meal.