Pileated Woodpecker (Hylatomus pileatus)

You have probably heard a woodpecker at some point in your life, but have you been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the bird behind the noise? The Pileated Woodpecker – one of the biggest, most striking birds in North America – is a particularly beautiful sight. This black bird with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest is nearly the size of a crow. Its bill is long and chisel-like, about the length of the head.

Any forest type can sustain Pileated Woodpeckers as long as there are trees large enough for roosting and nesting, although these birds are typically found in mature and old-growth forests. These powerful woodpeckers chip out characteristic oval or rectangular excavations in the trees where they forage for their prey, including wood-boring insects and insects that nest in trees like long-horned beetles and carpenter ants. These holes can be so large that they weaken smaller trees or even cause them to break in half. The sound of the Pileated Woodpecker’s hammering carries long distances through the woods. They also drum to attract mates and to establish the boundaries of their territory. These birds roost in hollow trees with multiple entrance holes. These roosting cavities are used later by many other birds and small animals.

Shooting for sport and food was formerly a significant source of mortality for Pileated Woodpeckers; fortunately, shooting these birds is now illegal. Clear-cutting of old-growth and other forests currently has the most significant impact on Pileated Woodpecker habitat, but this species is fairly adaptable, which offsets some of the impact from habitat loss.

Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Steelhead are native to North America west of the Rockies, but this popular sport fish has been introduced in almost every other state and on every continent except Antarctica. You may be surprised to learn that steelhead and rainbow trout are the same species, but rainbow trout live only in freshwater and steelhead are anadramous, meaning they spend part of their lives in freshwater and part of their lives in the ocean. Because of their different lifestyles steelhead and rainbow trout are different in appearance, most noticeably in size and color. Rainbow trout derive their name from their beautiful, multi-hued coloration. Steelhead are generally more streamlined in shape and silvery or brassy in color as adults. Adult steelhead/rainbow trout range in size. They can reach 45 inches in length and weigh over 50 pounds, although they are usually much smaller. A typical weight is about 8 pounds. Because steelhead spend 2-3 years in freshwater followed by 2-3 years in the ocean they are typically larger than rainbow trout.

Steelhead/rainbow trout have a varied diet and will feed on just about anything, including zooplankton when they’re young and fish eggs, small fish, crustaceans, mollusks, insects, and even mice as they mature. This fish is also a food source for many different predators depending on the region and habitat. Their predators include lampreys, fish, birds, bears, river otters, raccoons, and humans. In the ocean, steelhead are eaten by many species including seals, sea lions, and orcas.

Steelhead have been called the ultimate game fish. These elusive and challenging fish can test an angler’s patience and persistence, but the reward is hooking into a fish that is famous worldwide for its line-peeling runs and spectacular, acrobatic fight.

Siuslaw National Forest Drift Creek Wilderness

Locals and visitors alike marvel at the iconic image of the Douglas-fir. Did you know this tree provides for much more than good pictures? The Doug fir, as it is called by many, is highly revered and for good reason. In addition to its beauty, this tree has played an important role in the history of Oregon as well as the United States. Impress your next visitors by sharing new knowledge about this interesting species.

The Douglas-fir is named for David Douglas, a botanist who described the tree on his first trip to the Pacific Northwest in 1825. More than a century later in 1939 the Douglas-fir was designated Oregon’s state tree in recognition of the significant role it has played in the state’s economic development. In addition to being beloved by Oregonians, the Douglas-fir is well-known across the country. Today, it is the country’s top source of lumber and accounts for nearly half of the Christmas trees grown in the United States. This tree also played a unique role in American history, including being used by Native Americans for building, basketry, and medicinal purposes. Later, Doug fir was used for railroad ties and telephone and telegraph poles as the nation expanded westward.

Keep an eye out for this important species next time you explore the Oregon Coast!