WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY
The days are short, and darkness comes all too soon. The dawn of winter draws near. We may feel sleepy at times, but there is no long winter nap awaiting the beaver (Castor canadensis,) the largest rodent of North America. Contrary to the belief of some, beavers do not hibernate. Beavers are true architects of the wildlife world. Although these highly-skilled engineers are almost never seen in winter, the evidence of their activity is everywhere, from the most rural sections of our county to the wooded banks of the Clinton River in the city of Pontiac.
The Wilder Side of Oakland County
Beavers are the largest, yet least seen, rodents found in Oakland County. Even though these creatures can weigh more than 50 pounds with their massive flat tails, it’s difficult to spot them because they are mostly nocturnal and semi-aquatic. They are without a doubt, the best dam builders in our county. During late autumn, beavers busy themselves preparing for winter by strengthening their dams, adding extra mud and sticks to their fortified lodges and most importantly, stocking their underwater pantries. Wildlife biologists like to call those winter food caches Beaver Freezers. Rarely does a human get to see these underwater food storage sites; for usually as the ice begins to freeze, it quickly turns opaque and snow blocks any view. Not this year. On the second day of January, I had the unusual opportunity to inch my way carefully out over crystal clear ice and capture images of the top of a beaver freezer in one of the 13 Oakland County Parks.