National Geographic : 1928 Dec
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE A WHITE SPLASH FOLLOWS THE BEAVER'S ALARM The "danger" signal is a resounding slap of the tail, always preceding a hurried dive. The slap and splash are often made in sport, however, and Mickey's last salute to the author was the "good-byc" slap which here disturbs the water. where we had tapped the wall and the rustle of grackle wings, as they flitted alout in quest of food which the hatcher ies of dead and dying timber afforded. Within a few minutes, out of the com parative silence would come the boom of a big bass bullfrog. Soon the tenor, alto, soprano. Then a general chorus, with swelling volume to the finale, which came with startling abruptness. The chorus would last for 15 minutes. Another period of silence, then riffles would break on the placid water, spreading in shimmering wavelets to each shore. We knew this to be the muskrat's calling card. Instead of sending it up he would take it down as he dived to visit with Mickey and the family. With one exception, at all the locations I had investigated, one or more muskrats came calling on the beavers in the late afternoon. Every evening they came on Mickey's pond, generally a pair, sometimes three. They would stay below for about ten minutes, then emerge with him. Mickey would sport with them for a few moments, then the muskrats would head upstream and he would swim over to note the dam age at his dam. On the last day of re pair, seven people, previously informed of Mickey's punctuality, witnessed his arrival on time. Space circumscribes this story of Mickey and his sedulous, sagacious activities, but if there be one who doubts the wonders in the beaver world, let him go in midsum mer to the vicinity of the Crisp Point U. S. Coast Guard station, on the Lake Superior shore of northern Michigan, and view how the conversion of a river's flow into a 3 mile line of seepage "basin" feeders created homes for scores of beavers where con ditions had afforded homes for few. Note in the construction the use of water proof clays, brought a considerable dis tance from the only deposits of the kind in the vicinity. Or, locate a house in mid winter, with the temperature around 2o0 below zero, and note the vapors escaping by roof vents, which indicate that when the animal coated his house with congeal ing mud before ice sealed the pond, he planned a system of ventilation.