April 9, 2008


Today was officially “the first nice day of the year”. I am declaring it so, what with sunny weather and temperatures near 19°c. On our walk today we saw a flock of robins, a number of crows engaged in nest building, purple finches and crocuses blooming everywhere. Everyone’s spirits were lifted by the decidedly spring like weather. I feel sorry for April in British Columbia who woke up to more snow. Phooey!

About a month ago I walked out to the beaver dam to see what was going on there. The dam itself has been breached and is a little worse for wear. While a beaver dam can last for years, this one will be taxed this year by what is going to be a heavy spring run off. In the spring and summer this little dam creates a large beaver pond that provides habitat and an important ecosystem for a variety of plant and animal species. This work of the beavers provides for water conservation, flood control and also creates an excellent breeding ground for fish. In the summer the water lilies on the beaver pond are beautiful.

The beaver (Castor canadensis) is an official emblem of Canada, and rightly so, as this country was explored and opened up by the demand for beaver pelts in Europe for making hats. At the height of the fur trade over 100,000 pelts were shipped to Europe each year. Fortunately, fur hats fell out of favour when silk hats became the rage, thus saving the beaver from extinction.

I am always amazed at the sheer amount of work that these animals do all on their own. For their size they are capable of taking down very large trees. A beaver can fell a four inch thick tree like the one in the photograph in about fifteen minutes. There are reports of trees five feet in diameter felled by a beaver. They are the very epitome of industry and the phrase “as busy as a beaver” is a very apt one indeed.

The beaver lodge is made from heavy poles and thick sticks which the beaver plasters with mud. The entrance tunnel is located below the surface of the water. Inside there is a one room apartment with a floor covered in shredded bark that is just above water level. Beavers mate early in the year and two to six kits are born about four months later. Although it looks serene from the outside, just imagine the family activity that must be going on inside with the newborn baby beavers right about now.


charliesgirl_992000 said...

Beautiful pictures!!!

April said...

A very nice tribute to the beaver! :)