Friday, October 17, 2008

Birds and Beavers, One Happy Family??

Although it may seem like an unusual combination, recently, researchers found that beavers actually help create an important habitat for a plethora of migratory songbirds. This study, published in the journal Western North American Naturalist found that the diversity and number of local songbirds increased when a beaver dam was built.

In the Western American Regions, the number of Beaver populations has dramatically decreased because of the fur trade ever since the 1800’s. Hilary Cooke, the author of the study said, "this habitat is critical to birds in semi-arid regions yet has been severely degraded or lost through much of the West. Our results suggest that management of beavers may be an important tool for restoring habitat and reversing bird declines." Other than being hunted, Beavers are also considered pests because they are known to cut down trees. Also, they are known to flood property, which explains why they aren’t seen as the most peaceful of animals.

Steve Zack, a co-author of the Wildlife Conservation Society said, “Beavers help repair degraded stream habitats and their dams and associated ponds recharge local water tables and create wetlands. With our changing climate likely to mean increasing droughts in the West, managing ways to allow watersheds to act more like sponges will be a challenge. Beaver are a powerful tool to be considered for that, and the associated benefits to other wildlife add to their value." It truly is incredible that it is due to these collections of water created by Beavers that allow songbirds to become more abundant.

The full article can be found here

Ahmed Sandakli (5)


Thanks All for the insightful comments and questions. There were many important points brought up that I would like to look into. The abundant songbird diversity in beaver’s dams is due to the fact that in these ponds made through dam building; there are many kinds of vegetation that are able to grow.

One question was raised asking if the beavers supplied the birds with branches that they used to make their nests, and the answer to that question is no they don’t. Its simply because of the source of food present due to the environment created by the dams that the beavers build.

Another comment asked why beaver populations aren’t on the rise, since regulations and laws exist to protect animals. The reason for this is that to this day, beavers are considered a pest because they take down trees and flood properties of people.

Ahmed Sandakli


At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How significant is the increase in the diversity and number of local songbirds when a beaver dam was built? When did they realize the relation between the habitats beavers created and migratory songbirds?

Since beavers help repair degraded stream habitats and their dams and associated ponds recharge local water tables and create wetlands, there could also be other species of birds and additional species that beavers help.


At 2:21 PM, Blogger bspozio said...

So how exactly are beavers increasing the amount of local songbirds, and do all populations of songbirds increase, or just certain species?

-Benjamin Spozio

At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is pretty cool...It surprises me that the beaver dams encourage birds because I would think that it would be the opposite. I would think that the beavers were using up resources birds need to build nests. Nice job.

Ericka Adey

At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder whether beavers supply tree branches for birds to use on making nests. Beavers use some fine branches to build their dams. Why not birds steal them to build their nests? That may result in increased numbers of songbirds near beavers.

-Yi, Jeongsang

At 10:46 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Now, I understand that the hunting of beavers during the 1800s had a significant impact on the population of beavers in North America. Now that there are laws and regulations concerning beavers, wouldn't the population of beavers be rising anyways since the regulations have been instated?

-Kiel Boutelle

At 11:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an interesting find. I'm curious to know what areas in the nation are considered to be semi-arid? I'm a little bit confused as to how exactly the beaver dams create ideal habitats for certain song birds and why these habitats are more appealing to them now. Was there a dramatic change in the birds original habitat that made them switch or is this beaver habitat the "bees knees" for the song birds habitat?

Maura Mulvey

At 11:56 PM, Anonymous Jen Kodela said...

This is really interesting. I would not have expected it. Is there any correlation like this between beavers and other animals?

At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard that beavers are an important species in that the habitats created by their dams are homes to other animals, but I've never heard of songbirds taking advantage of the damed habitat. I was curious as to why the songbirds preferred the area where the dam was built, and if the songbirds can't find an area with a dam, where do they go instead? I was wondering if the dam created a stagnant water breeding pool for insects and small aquatic creatures that the songbirds might like to eat, but I don't know much about songbirds or their specific diets. It was a neat article and I think it demonstrates the complexity of the ecosystem.

Rachel Carboni


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