Beaver Chewed on a Cottonwood Seven Nights before it fell

  • Beaver Chewed on a Cottonwood Seven Nights before it fell shows a sequence from almost the beginning to the end. It looks like the tree was chewed on for one or two nights before I started filming the tree. And the tree got hung up in other trees. It will be interesting to see if and how the beavers deal with this. Over time the tree will eventually fall in the water. 
  • I have used both the Browning Dark Ops HD PRO and Strike Force PRO XD Trail Cameras to record beavers working on cottonwood trees. 
  • The cameras were set to record video at the maximum length which is 2 minutes with a 1 second time delay set between videos. At night the cameras will run for 20 seconds when triggered. They will focus on a subject as close as three feet away.
  • Very little is known about a beavers behavior when working on these large cottonwood trees. I think these cameras would be an excellent means of documenting their behavior. And it would make an excellent project for a student to work on. These cameras cost about $200 and they do a good job and best of all you can see how to position the camera through their viewing screen. With each video they record the date, time, and duration of the activity.  With only 6 AA batteries they can operate for several weeks. A HME Trail Camera holder works very well for mounting the camera on an adjacent tree. 
  • In general here is what we have learned so far: They worked on the trees only during the hours of darkness mostly between about 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. in October in the Juneau, area. The total time spent chewing ranged from 13 to 18 minutes per night. When chewing they would occasionally stop and eat a strip of the cottonwood bark. It usually took several nights, up to around 9, before the tree would fall. Sometimes the beavers would wait several days before returning to chew on the tree. 
  • Of special interest is in working on about 7 different cottonwood trees we have yet to record the tree falling while the beaver was working on it. This indicates that most of the trees may fall in the wind or just time. Can beavers sense this and know when to leave a tree alone? It certainly would help them avoid getting hurt by a falling tree. 
  • For a good study of this behavior look at /sites/default/files/Beavers%20Masters%20of%20Downfall%20by%20Alexander%20V.%20Badyaev.pdf