American Beaver - shutterstock American Beaver – chewing and moaning sounds from inside den. 3am, 4 September 1994. Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area near Ithaca, New York. © Lang Elliott.

What kind of voice does the beaver have? Would you ever guess that the young (and maybe adults too?) make expressive moans from within the den, especially in the autumn of the year?

I well remember making this recording. I had just discovered a small beaver pond deep in the forest. There was a dam about thirty feet long and the den, a large mound of sticks, was placed right in the middle of the pond. I left for the day but returned around midnight. I set up my tent, and then waded out into into the pond, placing my stereo soundscape microphone directly on top the den. Next I ran the microphone cable back to my tent, using several stakes to keep it above water (so that the beaver would be less likely to discover it and chew through it). Finally, from the comfort of my sleeping bag, I monitored activity through headphones into the wee hours of the morning.

Aside from water trickling over the dam and occasional chewing sounds, things were surprisingly quiet until around 3am, at which time I was treated to quite a display of talkings. First I heard a beaver expel air (sounds like a growl), then some chewing, and then a delightful variety of animated moanings and mumblings … all coming from inside the den. I presume the moans are sounds of youngsters, voicing their contentment as they happily chew the bark off small limbs (it’s possible, though, that the low-pitched moans are from an adult … I’m just not sure).

What a great catch, and still my all-time favorite beaver recording! Listen with an open heart and you will fall totally in love with these little guys (as if you weren’t in love with them already).

Credit: beaver photo from Shutterstock

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