Did I say I liked having a beaver colony in my backyard? I still do like the industrious creatures but there are a few drawbacks. I didn't know that they loved hollies, but they have a seemingly insatiable appetite for the lovely shrubs. I had some big beautiful Nellie Stevens and Savannah hollies but the Beaver has decimated them. I found two more gone last week. Now nature's lumberjack is at it again! Last night the Beaver burgled another big Savannah Holly.
He didn't take it with him but look how clever he was to submerge the end of the trunk in water so his prize will stay fresh and tasty until his return .
I'd hate this creature if he wasn't so interesting!! I'm getting out the chicken wire to save the rest of my hollies!!
There are dozens of wild willows he could snack on but obviously he prefers cultivated trees.
It's very rare to see the Beaver out and about after dawn, but this morning when I raised the shades, I spotted him in his little lake. He started gnawing on a decent sized wild willow trunk and a mere 10 minutes later, it dropped. The Beaver gnawed on the stump for a short time then started eating the branches. Guess he was ready for a "fresh" meal after a night of hard labor maintaining his little kingdom. What an amazing creature!
Uh oh! Do you remember the post a few days ago about the Beaver munching grass at the edge of the marsh? Well, clever devil--he was really a scout, sent to survey my yard for tasty treats. He struck last night in a brazen attack, clipping a few branches from a Butterfly Bush and a Beauty Berry. I've seen enough of the furry lumberjack's mayhem to recognize the clean cut of a Beaver's teeth. Beavers raise water levels in order to access vegetation more easily and now that the marsh is flooded, they have an easy route to my yard. Guess it's time to haul out the chicken wire an wrap a few trees because he'll be back.
When I raised the shades a few mornings ago, I saw a big brown lump at the edge of the marsh. In the dim light of dawn, I couldn't tell what it was. I hauled out the binoculars and was surprised to see one of the beavers casually munching tender grass. Yes, the furry lumberjacks are still busy reshaping the marsh! You can see the big pile of saplings that the beavers have cut down and stripped the bark.
Not to worry, with hundreds of wild willow saplings still in the marsh the beavers will have plenty of food for the winter and material for their building projects. I love these guys!!
Beavers are back in the lake!! I've been seeing evidence that suggested they were back, like young wild Willow branches and trunks floating in the lake. This morning I finally spotted them--two Beavers were enjoying a breakfast of willow branches.
I'm not really surprised to see Beavers are back. This is the time of the year that young male Beavers leave their families' lodges to establish their own territory. It seems this one has found a bride and may be ready to raise a family. Also, the marsh is overgrown with hundreds of wild Willow saplings. Willows are the Beaver's favorite food so this must seem like heaven to them.
The appearance of Beavers is really bittersweet--I love watching them because they are truly fascinating creatures. But on the other hand, having lost five nice sized Weeping Willows, a Bald Cypress, and numerous shrubs to them, I cringe, knowing they can really destroy a yard. Even though Beavers are destructive, I can't help cheering because they're back. Stay tuned to see how I feel when they invade my yard!!
The Bald Cypress has really bounced back from a severe mauling by the last beaver that lived in the lake. About this time four years ago, the furry lumberjack took up residence in the lake, built a little pond, and wreaked havoc with my landscape. He felled the beautiful Bald Cypress tree and stripped it bare. I was sure the tree was dead. Here’s the sad picture.
But nature is resilient and you can see that the Bald Cypress didn’t die—it’s full and lush. For the first time ever, it’s produced fruit, too. These little grey-green globes will thicken and turn brown as they mature. Very few birds can crack the tough hull to get to the seed so it isn’t a favorite food.
This lovely tree is a deciduous conifer that grows 50 to 70 feet tall. It does well in wet areas like the marsh and all the rain this summer helped the Bald Cypress recover. Of course, the tree won’t be as stately as it was before. Now it resembles a bushy Christmas tree. Seeing it, though, makes me think about that beaver. Now that the marsh is overgrown with wild willow trees and sycamores, he needs to return and tidy up.
These magenta beauties are Louisiana irises blooming in the marsh. It’s a hardy variety that thrives in moist locations. I originally planted a few at the edge of the lake but several years ago the beaver replanted some of the rhizomes when he built his little pond. After he left, the water level dropped and the area became a lush marsh which is the perfect place for these iris to multiply. I wish I had the nerve to head into the marsh and dig up a few rhizomes to move to the edge of the lake, but meeting a snake isn't on my agenda this spring.
It’s been over a year since the beaver left the lake but his work lives on. This stand of Sycamore saplings is growing on the dam he built to create his own little pond. When he dredged up mud for his earthworks, Sycamore nuts from a nearby tree must have been mixed in. There’s another clump of saplings not too far away.
Sycamore trees are ideally suited for this lakeside location since they prefer moist soil that doesn’t dry out. From a distance the bark looks a mottled grey, but up close you can see it’s a mixture of green, grey and tan, almost like camouflage. They are long-lived trees, sometimes reaching hundreds of years old, with aggressive root systems that can buckle sidewalks.
Unfortunately the little pond has dried up, but I’m amazed at how the furry lumberjack changed the landscape. In addition to the Sycamores, wild Willows are flourishing on his dam. Last spring, I discovered he’d planted Siberian Iris from my neighbor’s yard around the little pond and moved some of my Louisiana Iris there, too.
Even though the saplings seem to be flourishing, I’m betting they won’t last too long. Another beaver’s sure to show up in a year or two and need some building material.
About this time last year, there was a beaver living in the lake and wreaking havoc with my landscape. He felled the beautiful Bald Cypress tree in the picture above and stripped it bare. You can check out the account of his mayhem at
But nature is resilient and you can see that the Bald Cypress isn’t dead—it’s coming back from the stump.
Of course, it'll never be the same beautiful tree it was before. Now it resembles a small bushy Christmas tree. Seeing it though, makes me wonder about that Beaver. Where is he? And better yet, is he out there waiting for my landscape to recover before staging his own comeback???
Early one morning this week, I was enjoying my coffee while looking at the lake. But something unusual caught my attention. In the marshy area that used to be a small pond, there was a wide trail that looked odd—like something being dragged but with animal tracks on either side of the drag mark. It went from my lawn across the marsh toward the lake. You can see it between the two white lines in the photo.
I have no idea what made it, but I wonder if it could be a beaver. Could that be the mark a big flat tail makes as a beaver makes his way across the mud? This is the time of the year that young males strike out to establish their own territories. Maybe one was checking out the lake for succulent trees. Any guesses out there?
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Eagle Cam 2014 This camera streams the activities of the eagle nest located 110 feet up, in a tree on the grounds of the US FWS National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia.