Montana Outdoors

January 19, 2007

My neighbor, the beaver

Filed under: Animals, Beaver, Conservation, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures — montucky @ 7:29 pm

Today, instead of going on my usual hike through the foothills, I chose to scramble for a few miles along the bank of the Clark Fork river and enjoy some of the winter scenery there, and in so doing walked right into the yard of the resident beaver.

Back in October I wrote a post “Overwhelmed?” about beavers and some of the tasks they perform. That setting was about a hundred miles from where I live. This encounter was closer to home.

A hundred yards downstream from this scene

Clark Fork in winter 1

is this beaver lodge, and judging by its small size, probably the home of a single beaver or a small family. It will suffice for the winter but will be swept away by the high water during the spring run-off in May.

Beaver lodge

Besides cutting the small willows along the bank for food, this guy chose to put the branches of a small pine tree in his larder. While they will often use pines in building their dams, it is rather unusual to find one that is used strictly for food.

Beaver food

This is what the chips which are laying at the base of the stump look like up close. The grooves made by the beaver’s teeth can clearly be seen.

Beaver chips

This is just another tiny piece which interlocks into the huge puzzle of the natural world.

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October 2, 2006

Overwhelmed?

Filed under: Animals, Beaver, Inspiration, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photos, Pictures — montucky @ 3:36 pm

Once in awhile a task comes along that seems at the moment to be just way too big. Sometimes I get that feeling when going out after a load of firewood, knowing I will have to fall at least four 70-ft trees, saw them into 18 inch lengths and load about a ton and a half of them into my truck.

Then I think about a beaver. He’s a lot smaller than I am (an adult can weigh around 50 pounds), and doesn’t even own a chain saw. Here’s what he can do:

(This tree is just slightly less than three feet in diameter and about a week after these pictures were taken, he had finished taking it down.)

Mar19

Mar20

Compared to my chain saw, his tools are pretty small, primitive, and strictly “jaw-powered”. This set I obtained from an adult beaver who had no more use for them, having departed for the big beaver lodge in the sky. The longer pair are his top teeth and the shorter ones are his lower. The orange colored sections are what are exposed.

06-27-2004-2

06-27-2004-6

After I review these photos, I think for a few minutes and understand how easy my task really is.

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