Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Steelhead are native to North America west of the Rockies. This popular sport fish has been introduced to 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 anadromous, 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.

California sea lion (Zalophus californianus)

California sea lions are members of the “eared seal” family Otariidae. These pinnipeds live along the rocky Pacific Ocean coastlines of western North America.

They are very social animals and form groups of several hundred individuals onshore. In many areas they have become quite invasive and obnoxious. 

California sea lions are the most recognized pinniped species because they are commonly seen doing acrobatic tricks in shows at zoos and aquariums. While they are known for their intelligence and playfulness, these animals also quite athletic.

In the wild, the California sea lion swims up to 25 miles per hour, which is faster than any other sea lion or seal. This superb speed is related to how they use their front flippers.

Quick Diver

This animal is also an avid diver. When diving deep, California sea lions slow their heart rates to allow them to remain underwater for nearly 10 minutes before surfacing to breathe. This ability gives them an edge in the pursuit of the fish, squid, and shellfish that make up their primary diet.

California sea lions have color vision. They don’t see all colors, however, but are limited to blue-greens of the color spectrum.

REFERENCE:
–Wikipedia, California Sea Lions (www.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_sea_lion)

Things that will eat slugs are a welcome sight in any garden. The Common Garter Snake, along with most snakes in Oregon, is considered ‘beneficial’ because of their diet. The Common Garter Snake will eat slugs, grubs, mice, voles, earthworms, rats, frogs and tadpoles, and generally anything they can overwhelm.

Species in Oregon

There are four species of Garter snakes in Oregon: The Common Garter and Western Terrestrial Garter are abundant throughout Oregon, except the mountains. The Northwestern Garter resides in western Oregon. The Aquatic Garter resides in southwestern Oregon. Snakes are usually black, dark brown or green with a light-colored or red stripe and can reach 48-inches in length.

Where to look

You can find Garter snakes in a variety of habitats such as urban lawns, forests, woodlands, fields, and grasslands. Look for Garters near water, such as a wetland, stream, or pond. Water provides a place to hunt amphibians and as a potential escape strategy.

When disturbed, a garter snake may coil and strike. Typically, the Garter will hide its head and flail its tail. It may also discharge a malodorous, musky-scented secretion or slither into the water to escape a predator. Garters do not have the capacity to seriously injure humans, even though they have small amounts of a mild venom.

Predation

Garter snakes give birth to live and independent young. Gestation lasts a couple of months with birth rates reaching nearly 100. Juvenile snakes are often killed by predators, cars, and lawnmowers! Predators include birds of prey, crows, egrets, herons, cranes, raccoons, otters, bull frogs, shrews, and other snake species (such as the coral and king snakes).

Communication

Garter snakes use a complex communication system using pheromones. The pheromones cues are communicated through tongue-flicking behavior. This system helps them find other snakes through pheromone-scented trails and making it key to breeding.

Learn how to invite these beneficial predators into your garden by reading the Oregon State Extension publications Common Garter Snake and Attract Reptiles and Amphibians to Your Yard.

REFERENCES:
Snakes slither through the garden eating slugs, grubs and other pests (https://extension.oregonstate.edu/news/snakes-slither-through-garden-eating-slugs-grubs-other-pests)
Garter Snakes, Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garter_snake)
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (https://myodfw.com/wildlife-viewing/species/snakes)