August 26, 2009 in Keepers Log

Dam builders

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This morning, my cross-river neighbor Tim mentioned that he recently noticed a beaver swimming along the shore at the Tivoli Landing. Probably the same beaver I saw one evening while kayaking home from Tivoli last week. I wonder where its lodge is located.

Beavers are known for their dam-building activity, but I wouldn’t want to meet up with a beaver that could dam the Hudson River. Apparently, beavers forego dam-building on larger rivers and just build lodges. For example, a beaver built a lodge atop the bulkhead on Esopus Creek near the lighthouse.

Streams dammed by beavers typically are 2nd to 4th order streams (headwaters to mid-reaches of waterways) and in side-channels and floodplains of larger rivers. Research has shown that dam-building behaviour and choice of dam location is triggered by the sound of flowing water.

I wonder what size stream is too big for a beaver to dam up? Here’s an article that sheds light on the question:

Influence of watercourse depth and width on dam-building behaviour by Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber)

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