Silken caterpillar nests that look like cobwebs are hanging in the cottonwood trees, and literally thousands of caterpillars are all over the pavilion area, in the Upper Deschutes Day-use Area. Fall webworm caterpillars work together to make the gauzy looking nests. These caterpillars are the larvae of a native species of tiger moth known to entomologists as (Hyphantria cunea). They are considered to be a pest by many people, but are primarily a cosmetic nuisance, according to Oregon State University. Fall Webworm is a native insect; their population ebbs and flows over time. Some years have heavier infestations and this appears to be one of those years. The caterpillars feed on more than 85 species of deciduous trees and shrubs in the United States and are commonly seen in black walnut trees, willows, fruit trees and cottonwoods in Oregon. It is one of the few insect pests introduced from North America into other continents.
Like many insects, the Fall Webworm has several different appearances during it’s lifecycle. Webworm caterpillars, related to wooly bear caterpillars, are black with yellow to golden-orange bumps under a cloak of long tufted white hairs. They grow to about 1.5 inches long.
Then overwinter as pupae in a brown cocoon in protected places, such as in bark crevices or on the ground in litter or duff. This species acts similarly to the eastern tent caterpillar, but the Fall Webworm constructs its nest over the end of the branch rather than at tree crotches.
The adult, a large silky white tiger moth with black spots on its underside, flies in mid-summer. After mating, the female moth will lay hundreds of yellow or white eggs on the undersides of leaves. Like most moths, the Fall Webworm moths are nocturnal and are attracted to light. Adult moths have a wingspan of between 1.4–1.7 inches. Adults emerge in spring after host plants have developed leaves and mate. female moths deposit eggs in masses Adults emerge in spring after host plants have developed leaves and mate. Female moths deposit eggs in masses under leaves that appear covered with hair.
So, if you visit the park, look into the cottonwood trees and you will see these nests as well as little fuzzy caterpillars.
Due to EXTREME fire danger and limited emergency resources, all open flames are banned at The Cove Palisades State Park before, during and after the Total Eclipse.
ONLY PROPANE STOVES OR GRILLS (with lid) will be allowed; no wood or charcoal fires, propane fire rings, tiki torches, regular or Citronella candles or other flammable fuels will be allowed. Sky lanterns are illegal in the State of Oregon. No smoking is allowed in the park except in your campsite or vehicle.
If you plan on camping for the Total Eclipse weekend, please come prepared with alternative cooking methods. Ice may also be in very short supply and temperatures are expected to be hot. Plan for your family and don’t forget your furry friends.
Please do your part to keep The Cove Palisades State Park safe and beautiful!
►►All Oregon State Park campgrounds are full.
This is not the weekend to wing it!
►►Expect unprecedented traffic before, during and after
the eclipse. Avoid travel on Aug. 21.
►►The usual conveniences may be hard to get to.
Fill your tank and stock up early on food, medicine,
cash and anything else you can’t live without.
►►Cell phone service may become iffy.
►►Expect campfire bans in central and eastern Oregon.
►►Expect very high tides at the coast overnight:
camping on the beach is risky. Overnight parking
on the beach is prohibited
►►Protect your eyes during the partial eclipse:
use approved eclipse glasses or filters.
Stay informed: Follow #OReclipse2017
For more information at The Cove Palisades State Park, see our eclipse page on The Cove Rattler!
Gear up with special eclipse merchandise at Oregon State Parks
In between the snow storms of 2016/2017, Portland General Electric (PGE) and the Oregon Youth Challenge Corp. put in a new trail that park officials have been planning for several years. This season, there are two new trails at The Cove. Both are located on the Crooked River side of the park; enjoy breathtaking scenic beauty or spot wildlife as it flies or scurries by. Just a short walk from the Crooked River Campground or visitors may park in the boat trailer lot, behind the campground check-in booth (please remember the $5 day-use permit is required if you are not camping at the park).
Wetlands Trail – Visitors can take a leisurely, flat, quarter mile loop trail around the man-made ponds that clean up runoff before spilling into Lake Billy Chinook.
All new signage will explain the fire restoration progress that’s occurring after our 2015 wildfire in the park, you’ll see a bat apartment building that was built by Culver High School and Elementary School in 2015 that houses up to 1,200 bats, and you’ll also see a work in progress as Culver Middle School plants a certified showy milkweed garden, called the Milky Way, to attract migrating Monarch Butterflies.
This area is rich in vegetation; as well as aquatic, aerial and terrestrial wildlife. Look for Turkey Vultures, Hawks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Mule Deer, Rabbit, Dragonflies, Western Fence Lizards and more!
The Overlook Trail – For those looking for a little more of workout, start on the trail just to the left of the paddle wheel, on the north side of the Crooked River Campground Check-in booth. You will climb up a mile long, rocky trail, to Overlook #1 off Mountain View Road. Those willing to make the trek will be rewarded with breath taking views of Lake Billy Chinook – the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers, The Island – a National Landmark, Round Butte, The Sisters mountain range, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood and the surrounding areas. In the spring you will see tons of wildflowers as red-tailed hawks and turkey vultures soar overhead.
(Safety Notes: Bring water and wear sturdy shoes; may not be suitable for visitors with mobility or breathing issues.)
Check park programs for scheduled Junior Ranger program hikes, geologic tours, full moon night hikes and more!
As part of The Cove Palisades and Culver Middle School’s ongoing partnership; students focused on learning about Raptors and helped extensively with OPRD’s Eagle Watch festival for the 2016-2017 school year. They built a life size bald eagle nest that was almost six feet in diameter; large enough for an entire human family to sit in. Students created original Eagle Mad Libs and poetry for visitors.
It was my honor to be invited to Culver Middle School’s STEMFEST this year. Students show off the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) skills that they learned to school district administration, invited guests, media, and local elementary and high school students. One of the main goals of STEAM is to be as student directed as possible. The teachers may be used as resources however students need to come up with processes and conclusions or solutions on their own. To that end, each student was tasked with becoming an expert on some Raptor related species or topic. The projects were impressive and informative but moreover what was so exciting was how students put themselves out there and taught visitors about their bird of prey – using many of the interactive tactics we teach our OPRD staff at interpretive training.
I will be using several student activities at Junior Ranger programs in the park this summer (photos: making owls out of homemade play dough and guessing which eggs go to which birds). As this is my fourth year it was also fun to see returning high school students that participated in STEM at The Cove still supporting and participating the current middle school students.
You can visit Rex T. Barber’s memorial at the Peter Skene Ogden Wayside on Hwy 97, just north of Terrebonne. Ranger staff will be onsite Tuesday from 11 – 2 pm to answer questions.
It has been snowing for two days at The Cove with single digit temperatures and as rangers have been plowing and shoveling, wearing several layers of clothing, we are still freezing. As I look around the only living things out here that are up and moving around are birds. There are a lot of different birds at The Cove and only some migrate to warmer climates in the winter. Yesterday I saw Canada Geese, various ducks, Red Tailed Hawks, a Bald Eagle, a crow and numerous American Robins out hunting for food. Have you ever wondered how they cope in the winter? You’ll be amazed at the amazing adaptations birds have to stay warm and survive the frigid temperatures.
When the temperature drops I crave warm, hearty, calorie laden foods. These foods mean packing on the calories, which I’ll have to deal with in the spring, but birds need to increase their caloric intake too. Birds put on fat as both an insulator and energy source: More than 10 percent of winter body weight may be fat in certain species. It’s important to remember this can only be done in small amounts since they are a flying animal and still need to be able to take off. As a result, some birds spend the vast majority of their day time hours seeking fatty food sources. They are adapted to find, store, and remember where the food is so they can find it quickly. This makes winter foraging super efficient.
Birds have to work smarter not harder in the winter. One of the most effective strategies for having enough energy from food to stay warm is to not do highly energetic things during the cold season such as defend territories, spend a lot of time singing (although the Geese are constantly honking!), don’t build or maintain nests, don’t produce eggs or have hungry chicks around.
Birds of prey highly detailed knowledge of its home range and patience can mean the difference between life and death. During a short break in severe weather, a Barn Owl can fly directly to the best foraging habitat in any given ground, light and wind conditions. They are more likely to hunt from a fence post than from the air; this saves energy that would be used in flight and reduces heat loss.
Since birds can’t fly over to their closest Patagonia store or order a jacket from L.L. Bean, they have to find other ways to keep warm. Here is a list of some of their other adaptations:
- During the day time they soak in the sun.
- “Feathers are incredibly specialized structures that serve many purposes including, for many species, keeping them warm,” says Peter Marra, head of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at the National Zoo. Larger birds like geese will grow extra feathers. All their feathers help keep them warm, but especially the downy under feathers and act like tiny little North Face down coats. Bird feathers are also covered in oil which makes them waterproof.
- Smaller birds seek out dense foliage or cavities in rocks to avoid the elements and lessen wind-chill.
- Bird feet are covered with scales and have very little cold-damageable tissue in them. They are mostly bone and sinew. This minimizes the likelihood of frostbite. Bird feet are generally grabbing at rest, so it takes very little energy to stay attached to a branch.
- Ducks in Upper Deschutes huddle, bunching together to share warmth, and try to minimize their total surface area by tucking in their head and feet and sticking up their feathers. Some species like certain hawks will forgo a solitary lifestyle and form communal winter roosts.
- Some birds, like Chickadees shiver. Birds shiver by activating opposing muscle groups, creating muscle contractions without all of the jiggling typical when humans shiver. This form of shaking is better at retaining the bird’s heat.
- Many species have the ability to keep warm blood circulating near vital organs while allowing extremities to cool down; some can stand on ice with feet at near-freezing temperatures while keeping their body’s core nice and warm.
What can we do to help birds in the winter?
According to the Audubon Society’s Winter Feeding Tips for Birds: One simple way to help birds when the weather outside is frightful is to hang feeders. To attract a diversity of birds, select different feeder designs and a variety of foods. For ideas on what to get for your home, go to: Audubon Guide to Winter Bird-Feeding for tips. The birds benefit from the backyard buffet, and you’ll have a front-row seat to numerous species flocking to your plants and feeders. USE CAUTION, birds come to rely on this as an easy and unlimited food source. If you aren’t going to take the time and spend the money to keep feeders full, it’s best not to start.
Protect winter nesting sites. Just like humans need a warm place to go, bald eagles need shelter to survive harsh winter weather too. Winter can cause even large birds of prey a great deal of stress. The critical point to remember is that bald eagles are very territorial birds, and most breeding pairs return to the same nest site year after year. They may use the same nest annually for up to 35 years. If their nests are disturbed or destroyed, the pair may never build again. The less human caused disturbance the more likely we will have healthy breeding pairs in the spring.
Another thing we can do is not chase birds that are huddled together in large groups. We all know they will get up and fly away if we run at them. Their ability to survive a potential threat costs them a great deal of life sustaining calories.