Move over Kardashians.
Ellis Bird Farm has its own reality TV celebrities and they’re cuter and cuddlier.
Meet Ward and June, a pair of beavers that set up home at the bird farm in the spring of 2011 and seem to feel right at home. They’re back, live by webcam this year through a link on the Lacombe-area bird farm’s website at www.ellisbirdfarm.ca.
The beavers — named after the amiable parents in the 1957-63 TV comedy Leave it to Beaver — first made their webcam debut last year. Bird farm staff, sensing a unique opportunity, installed a couple of cameras in the lodges to watch the beavers groom, cuddle and sleep.
All summer, the beavers’ entertaining antics could be seen via a pair of video cameras positioned inside their two lodges.
But come the fall, in very un-Kardashian-like disdain for publicity, the beavers began blocking the camera lenses, first with mud, and when they couldn’t reach the lens, they used straw to block the viewing hole.
Myrna Pearman, the bird farm’s biologist and site services manager, suspects comfort rather than a desire for privacy may have been behind the sudden turn of camera shyness.
“I don’t know if they felt a bit of a breeze,” she says. “There must have been a little bit of air movement down the (viewing) tube.
“For whatever reason, they just alternated between mudding it and plugging the hole. So we just gave up.”
Whatever was annoying them seems to have been forgotten because the beavers are once again going about their lives, undeterred by the cameras.
“It’s the same as last summer. No problem at all. It’s not disturbing them at all.”
Occasionally, the picture gets a little blurry because water splashes the lenses when the beavers groom.
“They don’t mud it. There’s just a little bit of dirty water that gets on it. So we just clean the lens and put it back in.”
A few times, the lens has been blocked as the beavers shift their bedding straw around, which could be a sign of something special to come.
“I’m hoping that she’s working on a nursery. That’s what we’re hoping for, that she’s going to have babies any day.”
Pearman said those who come the bird farm to see the beavers leave with an unforgettable experience.
“The reaction of people who have been able to watch them is transformative,” she said.
“They’re going to be a huge hit, because it’s such an opportunity to be able to glimpse inside their world.”
Not only visitors have been fascinated by the buck-toothed standard bearers for Canadiana.
“I’m addicted,” she said with a laugh. “Every opportunity I have to sit and watch them I do. I’m hooked.”
The bird farm, which opens for the season on Monday, plans to make the beavers part of its school program, which begins running the following week. A special “Eager Beaver” evening has also been scheduled for June 2 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Those visiting the website can also keep tabs on a duck and its impressive nest of 13 eggs.
Ellis Bird Farm is a working farm and a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of mountain bluebirds, tree swallows and other native cavity-nesting birds and is located off Range Road 26-0, eight km south of Hwy 12, east of Lacombe.