portrait of The Ambitious Beaver

Monday, April 20, 2020

thoughts from The Ambitious Beaver

It's April, and the kits will be born within the next few months. We're thrilled to welcome our first litter (we're expecting three!) to our home on the river. But there's also work to do in preparation.

It was a quiet winter on the river. Our snack supply was plentiful, and we had lots of quality time listening to people ice fishing, ice skating, and skiing on the nearby lake. It's fun to hear people calling to the fish through their ice holes, enjoying lunch together in the sunshine, and taking selfies with their catches. We play a game while listening: guess what species of fish has been caught before the person announces the catch to their fishing friends. Maybe the kits will be able to join in the game next winter.

Our winter was also spent designing. Our neighbors a couple miles down the river have told us about the excessive spring run-off and flooding that occurs near their den. So our summer plan is to improve our dam, and the consequent pond, so that our section of the river can better mediate that dramatic seasonal flooding. With these lofty plans, we've drawn up several designs and scanned the bank for good tree options.

I went scouting for trees today and ended up rather far from the river-- I was intrigued by some extra large and enticing trees! I saw a particularly wonderful tree in the distance and hiked up the hill, slipping and sliding so much on the muddy patches that even my tail got muddy. Unfortunately, after this ambitious climb, I was disappointed to find signs of rot: shelf lichen covered large areas of the bark. Although I can't risk hauling this potentially rotting tree down to the river for construction, I did enjoy pausing to admire the intricate lichen. The small white and light-brown shelves are like stout duck bills. They taper to a wavy and rounded edge trimmed with a dark line that adds emphasis to the edge shape. I looked upward at the lichen, and delicious healthy branches caught my eye. Even on my walk back to the den, I ponder . . . what if we built our den in the trees like the birds?

Badyaev, Alexander. “Masters of Downfall.” National Wildlife, no. August/September 2015 (n.d.): 38–42. http://www.u.arizona.edu/~abadyaev/pubs/148.pdf.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Beaver.” Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2020, www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/beaver.html.

“What’s Wrong with My Plant? : Garden : University of Minnesota Extension.” Accessed December 13, 2020. https://apps.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/plant/deciduous/hackberry/branchesfungi.html.