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What Goes On When We’re Not Looking

5-17-19 beaver and ducks_U1A0432A blind is a wondrous thing, allowing you to observe natural behavior in a natural setting. Having watched beavers for over 50 years, I thought I had seen most of what there is to see regarding Beaver behavior, but this particular morning I was witness to a new activity, namely a game of tag.

The resident Beaver spent the better part of half an hour chasing ducks around its pond. A pair of Mallards were subjected to this annoyance first. When approached, the Mallards would swim away together, with the drake quacking loudly, but obviously weren’t put out too much by this game as they tolerated it for about ten minutes before taking off (undoubtedly in search of a more serene body of water).

No sooner had the Mallards left than a pair of Hooded Mergansers arrived. The Beaver greeted the newcomers and proceeded to chase them around and around the pond, occasionally catching up to them, and then restarting the game all over again. Eventually the mergansers, too, departed, leaving the Beaver king/queen of his/her castle. (Thanks to Mike Keating for photo op.)

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17 responses

  1. That’s so cool, Mary. Some years ago a beaver played tag with my little skiff. We would swim right at it and dive under. There was nothing else on the pond at the time. Loons have done the same thing, but they never appear to be on a ramming course as the beaver did.

    May 20, 2019 at 8:30 am

  2. Bill On The Hill

    Excellent post Mary… There are tons of portable blinds on the market today as I have been meaning to get one for years now for my wildlife photography. Ameritech, Herters, just to mention a couple are hunters blinds, reasonably priced & available in all sorts of configurations. Being 6′ 1″ I need a blind I can stand up in with windows on all (4) sides.
    Bill… :~)

    May 20, 2019 at 9:11 am

  3. Diane Alexander

    Another great glimpse of nature.

    May 20, 2019 at 9:27 am

  4. Alice Pratt

    That must have been quite hilarious to watch. Good thing the waterfowl has wings & put them to good use.

    May 20, 2019 at 9:33 am

  5. Your story of the beaver playing tag with the ducks reminded me of our standard poodle, Oliver. He used to swim after ducks at our camp. At first he was trying to catch them, but they never let him. They swam for a while and then flew off quacking loudly. Eventually he learned it was hopeless. They would swim by every day and greet him, tease him you might say. Then he would dog-paddle after them for a while, leisurely, and Turn around and come back. They played this game for several summers. Thanks for reminding me. I had no idea beavers play this game, too.

    From Susan Gilpin


    May 20, 2019 at 9:59 am

  6. david putnam

    I have seen otters do that, also without really scaring the ducks.

    May 20, 2019 at 10:10 am

  7. liz

    What a joy to learn that beavers possess a spirit of inquiry, perhaps even a sense of humor.

    May 20, 2019 at 12:19 pm

  8. R. Allison Ryan

    My dog ( a golden) and beavers routinely played tag. The beaver would wait until my dog Malarkey would swim within a foot or so, then dive and pop up about a hundred feet away, again wait until he almost got there, repeat repeat. Once I watched this game go on for more than an hour. Then the beaver chose to exit by diving under a dock out into the river . My dog looked back and forth to me and how far he would have to swim to the end of the dock to go out into the river to find the beaver and -reluctantly- decided to come to me ! He played this game with several other beavers to some degree.

    Sent from my iPhone


    May 20, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    • I had this exact experience with my dog, only it was just after ice had broken up on a large body of water, and the beavers (there were two involved) succeeded in luring my lab out into the middle of the reservoir. I ended up having to jump in and drag my dog to shore…I then read that this is a tactic they often use when drowning a suspected predator!

      May 20, 2019 at 5:01 pm

  9. teachdad46

    Moral to the story: Leave it (the pond) to Beaver

    May 20, 2019 at 1:54 pm

  10. kathryn

    Beavers just wanna have fun!

    May 20, 2019 at 2:36 pm

  11. I love this post, and these stories! Thanks!

    May 20, 2019 at 9:06 pm

  12. This evening I watched a beaver pester a male goose with a big tail slap right beside him. The goose acted as if nothing had happened and moved on. The beaver dove and I did not see where he/she resurfaced.

    May 20, 2019 at 9:46 pm

  13. Janice Bean

    Mary, I witness the same tag game with a deer and coyote. I called the Fish and Game folks and their response was ” happens on a regular basis”. I was a lucky one to see a deer and coyote playing. Janice fleetwood-bean

    On Monday, May 20, 2019, Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote: > Mary Holland posted: “A blind is a wondrous thing, allowing you to observe natural behavior in a natural setting. Having watched beavers for over 50 years, I thought I had seen most of what there is to see regarding Beaver behavior, but this particular morning I was witness t” >

    May 28, 2019 at 8:37 pm

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