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 darned 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, beavers present little problem 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 how boisterous a beaver can become when inspired to defend home and hearth.

A full-grown human with camera and tripod loitering at the edge of a beaver pond, I’ve learned, will not long escape the residents’ notice, so it didn’t surprise me when a beaver soon showed up to check me out. Though positioned well away from its den, I was evidently a little too close for the beaver’s comfort to a narrow channel through which he and family members frequently passed going to/from their pond. And thus, through repeated challenges as you see above, I figured I deserved the piercing looks of beaver disapproval beamed in my direction.

But I never imagined the 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, the kingfisher, too, seemed to feel comfortably above any reproach from below.

So color us both astonished when a sudden loud slap of the beaver’s broad tail sent the feathery fish-eater a’flying.

For the kingfisher, it was “message received!” as he dodged the splash and departed in a hurry to dine undisturbed elsewhere. For me, it was déjà vu of many other amazing moments on Nature’s Coast where, if not for my trusty camera, I might still be wondering — “did I really just see what I thought I saw?” And in case you, too, might still be wondering:

You’re darned right I think the beaver did it on purpose!

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