Thursday, February 11, 2016

Beaver Fill-in-the Blanks

Beaver Fill-in-the-blanks – adapted from National Geographic  
Beavers are famously busy, and they turn their talents to re-engineering the landscape as few other animals can. When sites are available, beavers burrow in the banks of rivers and lakes. But they also transform less suitable habitats by building d _ _ _.
 Felling and gnawing trees with their strong t_ _ _ _ and powerful jaws, they create massive log, branch, and mud structures to block streams and turn fields and forests into the large p_ _ _ _   that beavers love.
Domelike beaver homes, called l_ _ _ _ _, are also constructed of branches and mud. They are often strategically located in the middle of ponds and can only be reached by u_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   entrances. These dwellings are home to extended families of monogamous parents, young kits, and the yearlings born the previous spring.
Beavers are among the largest of r_ _ _ _ _ _. They are h_ _ _ _v_ _ _ _  and prefer to eat leaves, bark, twigs, roots, and aquatic plants.
These large rodents move with an ungainly waddle on land but are graceful in the water, where they use their large,   _ _ bb_ _ rear feet like swimming fins, and their paddle-shaped tails like rudders. These attributes allow beavers to swim at speeds of up to five miles (eight kilometers) an hour. They can remain underwater for 15 minutes without surfacing, and have a set of transparent eyelids that function much like goggles. Their f_ _ is naturally oily and waterproof.
There are two species of beavers, which are found in the forests of North America, Europe, and Asia. These animals are active all winter, swimming and foraging in their ponds even when a layer of ice covers the surface.

American Indians called the beaver the "sacred center" of the land because this species creates such rich, watery habitat for other mammals, fish, turtles, frogs, birds and ducks. We now know that beaver d_ _ _ _ _ g   provides essential natural services for people too.
Beavers reliably and economically maintain w_ t _ _ _ d _ that sponge up floodwaters, alleviate droughts and floods (because their dams keep water on the land longer), lessen erosion, raise the water table and act as the "earth's kidneys" to purify water. The latter occurs because several feet of silt collect upstream of older beaver dams, and toxics, such as pesticides, are broken down by microbes in the wetlands that beavers create. Thus, w_ _ _ _   downstream of dams is cleaner and requires less treatment for human use.
By the early 1900s, beavers were almost extirpated from North America, Europe and Asia due to t_ _pp_ _ _   and the subsequent dr_ _ _ _ _ _  of lands for agriculture. Estimates of the current North American population are as low as five percent of those present prior to European settlement.
Literary note – In Larry McMurtry’s novel, Buffalo Girls, a trapper from the Old West, traveling with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, goes overseas to  London; his only sightseeing wish is to go to the London Zoo to see a beaver, where:

“…he heard a sound he had not heard in many years, the slap of a beaver’s tail on water. …it was a sound he had first heard on the Platte as a boy of sixteen; it was the sound that had called him on, deeper and deeper in to the west, to the Missouri, and then to the Yellowstone, all the way to the dangerous Bitterroot and the Tongue, then it became a sound he heard less and less often as the beaver vanished…the last time he had heard the beaver’s sound was more than ten years before. He had listened for it in vain ever since – but here it was, at last!”
Beaver by Steve Jordan
Learn more about beavers from Dr. Jessica Healy at her presentation, Leave It to Beaver, for Second Saturday,  February 13, 10 am at Hagerman NWR.

ANSWERS: dams, teeth, ponds, lodges, underwater, rodents, herbivores, webbed, fur, damming, wetlands, water, trapping, draining

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