Saturday, December 13, 2014

Finding Castor Canadensis

I have located my little buddies here in southwest Utah! Well, I have not located them, exactly, but I have found clear evidence of their existence. Now it is just a matter of time before I catch the little rascals in action. And just who do you think these little rascals might be, industriously re–engineering their short stretch of the Santa Clara River?
Santa Clara River -  more here than meets the eye!
Beavers! That’s who I’m talking about. Take a closer look. Do you see anything that might lead you to think they are here?
These trees look suspiciously like they have been gnawed.
How about this? I’ve got your attention now, that’s for sure.

The work of giant Pleistocene beavers!
Yikes! Either giant Pleistocene beavers have not gone extinct in Utah, or there is a seriously diligent colony of North America’s largest rodent gnawing its way through these cottonwoods. That is one huge tree!

 NOT the giant Pleistocene beaver!
I do believe that this just the cutest beaver dams I have seen lately. OK, so it is the only one I have seen lately. I noticed there was no obvious large lodge plopped into the middle of the river, so I expect the beavers might have built bank dens. I guess I might need to go slogging around in the muck soon to find them, or at least go crashing through the underbrush along the banks.

Beaver dam on the Santa Clara River
Last spring as we were out geologizing, a friend pointed out the beaver activity. At the time, I did not investigate beyond noting the location, and then I was off to Yellowstone and the beavers of Aster Creek. So when I found myself out this way birdwatching recently I knew I had to stop and crash through some underbrush.

Beavers are not the only critters that call this place home, either.

I'm thinking racoon.
I'm thinking bobcat
Lest my Yellowstone beaver buddies along Aster Creek think I have forgotten them, here is a short video from this past summer. Watch its nose twitch as it turns to check me out! Beavers have really poor eyesight and use their sense of smell more than their sense of sight. I stood so still I was barely breathing, a  nonthreatening shadow on the shore in the beaver’s eyes. With a bit of luck and good timing, I may be able to get similar video of the Santa Clara River beavers one of these days. I just hope the road department doesn't tear down their handiwork.


  1. Your wonderful post reminds me of the Canadian beaver whisperer.
    Thank you so much for your posts,

    1. Wow! Many thanks for passing along info about the beaver whisperer, Tom.