While wandering the Jordan River Trail, it’s not hard to find evidence of beavers – if you know what to look for. Along the winding path beside the river, you can find stumps marked by chisel-toothed grooves or trees whose gnarled outer bark has been removed, leaving behind a pale, naked base.
These tell-tale signs are found all along the Jordan River, a testament to beavers’ penchant for being “ecosystem engineers.” Beavers’ industrious activity has a big impact on wild bird habitat. As beavers feed on tree bark, they alter the landscape along the banks. Dead trees, or snags, become important perches or cavity habitat for birds. However, dead trees might be deemed hazardous and removed too quickly from the landscape.
Thus, Tracy Aviary’s newest community science project was born: Birds & Beavers // Castores y Comunidad. This new bilingual project seeks to answer: How does beaver activity affect birds? How can our data inform land management that is beneficial for birds, beavers, and people?
The project, which launched this April, is centered on the new Jordan River Nature Center located on Salt Lake City’s West Side, along 3300 South. This newest branch of the Aviary is no coincidence. While investigating beavers, our goal is to work with diverse audiences along the Jordan River and take proactive steps towards building inclusive community science programs.
The first phase of the Birds & Beavers project is live and anyone can participate. It’s simple: we need your help to find trees affected by beavers. If you’re along the Jordan River and see gnawed/fallen trees, text a photo and location to the “Beaver Hotline” at 801-381-6349. Your photos help our conservation team locate trees and plan which areas to monitor. As the season continues, we hope to offer family-friendly beaver walks, activities, and interpretive signage at the Jordan River Nature Center. Learn more and get involved at tracyaviaryconservation.org/birdsbeavers.
Frances is the Conservation Outreach Biologist for Tracy Aviary. With a background in Zoology, she is especially fond of birds & mammals. At the Aviary, Frances is developing inclusive community science projects, surveying local bird populations, and creating science-art.