Category Archives: seasons

Jack Frost is Out!

Folklore from countries around the world surround the harsh, cold, dark, mysterious time of year known as winter.

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Boreas – God of the North Wind – In Greek mythology, each direction of wind was considered a god. Depicted in ancient art as an old man, he was considered the bringer of winter and the cold. The harshness of the season was paralleled by his supposedly harsh personality, short-tempered and severe.-

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In some Celtic traditions, According to legend, the Oak King would battle the Holly King who ruled from the start of summer. Though the Oak King’s reign would begin at the darkest time of the year, his coming marked the gradual progression towards spring and summer, rather than being seen as the bringer of the winter season.

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For the Norse mythologies, Ullr was the god of winter. Son of a frost giant, he would rule Asgard in Odin’s absence in the winter.

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Jack Frost, is the personification of snow, sleet, ice, and freezing temperatures.  He is the variation of Old Man Winter nipping at your nose and leaves fern-like patterns on the windows as he walks by. Jack Frost has been referenced in stories and songs since at least the 1700s.

Every now and then, nature transforms The Cove into a spectacle of shimmering ice and frost which coats literally everything in a mantle of glistening ice crystals, this is known as Ammil.  This phenomenon occurs when a winter thaw is suddenly arrested by a rapid drop in temperature which results in the moisture being frozen. Sometimes larger objects can get a build up of several layers of ice which because of its weight can cause havoc with old trees and dead branches.

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 Ammil – The glittering layer of ice that dusts everything after a freeze.

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Frost crystals form on a smooth cold surface like glass, they often make beautiful patterns.  These patterns are the result of changes in the surface of the glass; tiny scratches or specks of dust can affect the way that the crystals form and interlink.

While this picture perfect fairyland is beautiful, it can be dangerous.  Be careful not to slip on ice, don’t stand under trees or things that can break and fall on you.  Driving can be especially tricky.  If you can, avoid Jack Frost, enjoy these days from the warmth of your fireplace; if not, bundle up and go slow!

 

 

Is the Lake Lower?

Visitors at Lake Billy Chinook may notice that the lake level has gone down since this fall.  Boaters will easily see the waterline is a couple of feet lower than it was.  Portland General Electric (PGE) manages lake levels on Lake Billy Chinook to accommodate spring runoff and control flooding downstream.  Some years it is necessary to lower it further like in the spring of 2017 to catch above average snow melt.

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PGE currently plans is to draw the water line down 3 feet by Christmas and keep it there until March and April. The lake level is measured in actual elevation, so full pool is 1,945’ above sea level and hold lake level to approximately 1,942’ after the holidays.

For current water temperature and flow data from U.S. Geological Survey monitoring stations water temperature/water levels

to be sorted 12 2015 007.JPGBoating is allowed all year at Lake Billy Chinook however safety is our priority.  Snow, high winds, icy conditions and low water can make launching difficult or unsafe.  This may require some boat docks to be temporarily closed.  Boaters, stay safe, do not try to launch from a closed dock. For current park conditions, call the park office 541-546-3412, Monday – Friday from 7:30 – 4 pm.

Crooked River Campground Closed for Winter

to be sorted 12 2015 030.JPGThe Crooked River Campground will be closed between

December 15, 2017 – February 15, 2018. 

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Cabins are open year-round, weather permitting. 
For current conditions, please call the park office 541-546-3412

 

Fall Webworms in Upper Deschutes Day-use Area

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Fall Webworm Caterpillars Upper Deschutes Day-use Area

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.

photo credit:  Bob Moul Galleries

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.

photo credit: Andrei Sourakov, University of Florida

So, if you visit the park, look into the cottonwood trees and you will see these nests as well as little fuzzy caterpillars.

Enjoy Paddling at The Cove

Cove Kayak Tour Flyer

How Do Birds Deal with the Cold?

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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.

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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.
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Photo Credit: Janet Roper

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Happy New Year

Annual parking permits on sale now

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OPRD’s annual December parking permit sale started Thursday. From Dec. 1-31, visitors and holiday shoppers can buy an annual parking permit for only $25—that’s $5 off the regular price of $30.  OPRD parking permits can be purchased online at OPRD store

Also, don’t forget you can get great new gifts for the holidays too!

PARKING FEE WAIVED FOR ‘GREEN FRIDAY’ AT OREGON STATE PARKS

Staff at The Cove Palisades State Park are thankful for working in a beautiful place and all of our wonderful park visitors.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) invites the public to visit state parks for free on Nov. 25. For the second successive year, the department will wave day-use parking fees at the 26 state parks the charge them.

“We invite you to join a new tradition: Green Friday,” said OPRD Director Lisa Sumption. “Why not skip the mall, and instead come out to play with your family and friends at your favorite state park?”

11/25/16 – To Celebrate, The Cove Palisades State Park – Join Ranger Erin Bennett for a hike on the Crooked River Wetlands Trail at 9:00 am.  Meet at the Crooked River campground check-in booth.  Hike is approximately a quarter mile, on flat surfaces and is ADA accessible.  FREE

Parking is free year-round at almost all state parks; the waiver applies to the 26 parks that charge $5 daily for parking. The waiver applies from open to close on Nov. 25, except at Shore Acres State Park, where it expires at 3 p.m. for the Holiday Lights event that runs Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. A list of parks that require day-use parking permits is at http://bit.ly/OregonStateParksParking.

Visit the Oregon State Parks website for directions to each park: www.oregonstateparks.org.

Did you know that porcupines eat pumpkins?

One of my favorite Central Oregon animals is the porcupine, which happens to be the second largest rodent in North America (third in the world, after capybara and beaver); but it is not the animal that first comes to mind when I think of Halloween.  North American porcupines eat plants and favor any number of herbaceous delicacies.  Porcupines rely entirely on their nose for food search.  Considered a nocturnal, generalist herbivore, porcupines consume tree bark, leaves, conifer needles, buds from conifers and deciduous trees, wildflowers, fruit, nuts, rose hips, and ground vegetation.  They’ve been known to chew on axe handles and tires for salt.  So I guess squash shouldn’t be a surprise.

This summer I was preparing for a porcupine program and found a YouTube video you have to see!  Meet “Teddy Bear” the porcupine – Teddy Bear was orphaned and taken to animal shelter called Zooniversity in Dallas. He now travels to schools teaching people about porcupines – and winning their hearts with his cuteness!  As zookeeper Allison Blankenship asks questions, Teddy’s little squeaks seem to answer her back.

Watch and listen to Teddy as he enjoys his Halloween Treat

Happy Halloween!

Porcupine Facts:

  • Porcupines live up to 20 years old.  They are the second oldest living rodent in the world. (following Naked Mole Rats)
  • They do not hibernate, they are active all year.
  • Like monkeys they are divided into old world and new world species.  Old World porcupines are much larger than New World porcupines with quills up to a foot long.  In Africa, they are thought to bring good luck and are worn as ornaments by many tribes.
  • North American porcupines have approximately 30,000 quills on their bodies.
  • They are very peaceful yet territorial rodents and may become offensive when threatened.
  • Porcupines cannot throw their quills at predators; rather the quills get detached from their body when in proximity to other animal’s skin.
  • North American porcupines do not eat and sleep in the same tree.
  • Porcupines can accidentally stick themselves to a branch, or any other thing while falling from a tree.  They are the only mammal that can produce their own antibiotic.
  • If you want to see one up close, visit the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon.
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