Going wild in Sisters
By Jim Anderson
Sisters is a rich place for observing wildlife living in our forests, rivers and high desert. With careful planning, you can have a delightful time searching out and discovering birds, mammals, beautiful butterflies, insects, plus reptiles and amphibians.
Golden-mantled ground squirrel and yellow-pine chipmunks
Golden-mantled ground squirrels and yellow-pine chipmunks live all through the forest and can be seen wherever you hike. The streaks on a chipmunk's body go all the way to the nose, while on the golden-mantled they stop at the shoulders.
Every year, the North American Butterfly Association conducts a
butterfly count on Friday of the Fourth of July weekend. If
you would like to participate,
or would like to know the
butterfly "hot-spots," call Sue Anderson at Natural Selection, 541-388-1549, or email a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can see coyotes just about anywhere you go in the Sisters area.
Like coyotes, badgers have also been persecuted because of their
habit of digging holes as they pursue ground squirrels and gophers. They have also moved into clear-cuts in the forest.
Hikers traveling along trails that run on the edge of the forest may get very lucky and see a bobcat.
The so-called "wild" turkeys you will see about anywhere around Sisters are not really wild. They're transplanted from the Willamette Valley where they were pests in feed lots and other agricultural areas.
If you enjoy a morning walk around town, don't be surprised
if you come face-to-face with at least 10 or so mule deer within the city limits.
Yes, we do have rattlesnakes in the Sisters area. Thankfully, the Pacific Rattlesnake is a more-or-less laid-back member of the pit viper family and if you give them your respect, they will most often do likewise. We also have non-lethal gopher snakes slithering under sagebrush and rim rock.
Photo by Kate Thomas Keown
Sisters Country is home to a substantial herd of Rocky Mountain Elk. They circulate though meadows and forests around Black Butte and points east. The herd consists of cows, calves and yearlings, and watching them move through the forest is a majestic sight. A mature cow elk weighs approximately 500 pounds and stands some four to five feet tall at the shoulder.
Bull elk are much more elusive, tending to travel alone or in small bachelor groups.
The ever-busy water ouzel – a songbird known as the dipper – can also be seen dropping into
the cold streams and "flying" underwater in search of aquatic insects.
Coyote photo by Gary Miller.