Beaver vs Bird

Contrary to their cute & cuddly image, beavers can really cop an attitude

Do I think the beaver did it on purpose? You’re darn right I think the beaver did it on purpose!

Contrary to the cute and cuddly image conveyed by the Saturday morning cartoons of my youth, my experience with beavers in the wild has shown them to be quite capable of some pretty surly behavior. Given space and left alone, nearby beavers present little worry for any creature that doesn’t taste like a tree. But make no mistake, beavers take themselves seriously indeed as they patrol the borders of their dammed domains. Stray too close, and you might well discover a beaver getting straight-up pugnacious about home defense.

A full-grown human with camera and tripod loitering at the edge of a beaver pond will not long escape the residents’ notice, I’ve learned, so it wasn’t at all surprising that a beaver would soon appear to check me out carefully. Though positioned well away from his den, I was evidently a little too close for the beaver’s comfort to a narrow channel through which he and members of his family needed to pass to enter their pond. And thus, through repeated challenges such as you see above, I figured I deserved the glaring looks of disapproval directed my way.

But I never imagined that a beaver would take issue with a harmless kingfisher sitting innocently on a branch overhanging the channel, rattling its merry “melody” across the wetland, guilty of nothing more irksome than bobbing up and down in hungry anticipation of a silvery snack rising in the pool below.

So color me astonished — flabbergasted, really — to see the beaver expertly aim a slap of its tail directly at the feathery bystander perched overhead.

For me, it was déjà vu of other amazing moments on Nature’s Coast where, if not for my trusty camera, I might never have believed I really saw what I thought I saw. For the kingfisher, it was “message received!” as he dodged the splash and departed in a flurry of feathers to seek dinner elsewhere.

And in case you might still be wondering — you’re darn right I think the beaver did it on purpose!

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