Busy beavers help Canada geese

Feb. 13, 2013 at 4:49 PM

EDMONTON, Alberta, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Canada geese get an earlier start when they fly home and begin spring nesting, thanks to a helping hand -- from eager beavers, scientists say.

Researchers at the University of Alberta report ponds in the province where beavers were active tended show an earlier thaw of winter snow pack, giving the geese a better chance at reproductive success.

The scientists, surveying 32 active and 39 inactive beaver ponds at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park in east-central Alberta, found open water occurred an average of 10.7 days earlier in active ponds.

Beaver activity, such as building lodges and foraging for food, warmed and thawed the water, making it a more welcoming habitat for geese to nest, researcher Glynnis Hood said.

"Having access to safe nesting grounds and ample food is necessary for Canada geese to raise at least one set of offspring before fall migration," she said.

The open water also benefited several other animals, Hood said, including coyotes, fox, weasels, moose, deer, ravens and other birds.

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