Eco Engineer at Work – watercolor

beaver handiwork

Whenever I perform a litter sweep on my work shift, I never complain. I love it. It allows me to walk the trails each week and take note of seasonal changes while keeping the grounds clean. So it was a nice surprise to see the handiwork of a beaver in a succession over a few weeks.

On or before October 26th, it chewed the smaller of the two trunks on this established tree next to the river. Then about two weeks later, it chewed the larger of the two trunks. Why did it not take the smaller one? I do not know.

Imagine trying to chew through the trunk of a tree.

How is this animal so powerful?

No, that orange color on its teeth is not tartar (see skull sketch above), but a layer of iron. Go beaver, go!

Beavers are a keystone species. That means, they’re fantastic ecological engineers as they create riparian (river edge) habitats wherever they dwell. This type of habitat will be a home and feeding ground to possibly hundreds of new species: frogs, turtles, birds, insects, plants, invertebrates, etc. With its iron, it completely changes the ecosystem for the better, for many.

While humans are destroying habitats, beavers are creating them. Go beaver, go!

This was the beginning. I had no idea it was not done yet.

double beaver chews

Was it the same beaver that chewed through the larger trunk? I assume so. Perhaps it did not take the tree because it was simply feeding on the bark. Beavers are active in the fall because they are trying to plump up for winter. They do not hibernate. They live in their lodges, eat their food reserves, and sleep when food is low, but they are still active in the wintertime. So now is the time to get fat.

I am so thankful to God for the ability to be a naturalist and see changes in nature as the seasons progress. I try to take nothing for granted.

Nature is beautiful. Life is short. All glory to God.


  1. we have lots of beaver here in New Brunswick. They are amazing engineers, able to create ponds on streams with big flows. Not sure why they chisel half-way through a tree and then abandon the endeavor.

    1. I just read somewhere that beavers chew until almost completely but then waits until the wind knocks the trunk down. Not sure how accurate that is but it is interesting! Hope you see a beaver this autumn!

  2. We have a lovely beaver dam about a 5 minute walk from our house. We love it and I hope that the city does not listen to the complainers that want it removed. It does not threaten to flood anyone’s homes and it has created a new eco system in the area while creating a natural water retention system 😀

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