Corvallis Science & Nature: Winter Wildlife Field Days

It started to feel less like late winter and more like early spring this past week, with daffodils blooming yellow all around town. The first bright orange rufous hummingbirds of the year were recorded in both Linn and Benton counties, along with sightings of swallows arriving for the spring. Even though the temperatures will dip a bit lower this week, and we might even see a few snow flurries, there’s no question that the season of birdsong and wildflowers is coming.  

Throughout March: Winter Wildlife Field Days 

Before winter officially ends, there’s still time for one of the great nature events of the Willamette Valley calendar, Winter Wildlife Field Days. All through March, and spread among sites all over the valley, this annual event celebrates the unique wildlife of our region with hands-on exhibits and presentations. This year’s theme is Worlds Unseen, and many of the pop-up field stations around the valley will focus on the wildlife that can pass us by unnoticed, until we take a closer look: soil organisms, insects, burrowing mammals and canopy birds.  

Check out the full schedule of events here. There’s also a month-long scavenger hunt highlighting our local parks and teaching about water conservation. All Winter Wildlife Field Days events are bilingual, English and Spanish and all are free with no registration required.  

Friday: Jackson Meadow Restoration 

If you missed this last week, there’s one more chance to chip in and help restore our local prairie ecosystems. Jackson Meadow is a 27-acre remnant of the prairie and oak habitat that used to dominate this area. Great progress has been made to clear invasive species and open up space for native plants to return, but there’s still plenty to do. The Institute for Applied Ecology and OSU are looking for volunteers this Friday to help clean up woody debris and clear space for later replanting projects.   

Bring your own lunch and water. For more information and to register for the work party, click here. 

Tuesday: Soil and Water Annual Meeting 

One of the most important, but often overlooked, local government agencies for maintaining the health and beauty of our natural spaces is the county Soil and Water Conservation Department.  

Attending government meetings may not be as satisfying as getting your hands in the dirt on restoration projects, but it’s at least as meaningful. Next Tuesday, Benton SWCD is holding its annual meeting to discuss the past year’s projects and what’s coming up for 2024.  

Guest speaker Andony Melathopoulos from OSU’s horticulture department will give a talk on Benton County’s native bees. Dr. Melathopoulos works with the Oregon Bee Project and the OSU Extension Service’s Master Melittologist program, and is the host of the weekly podcast PolliNation, which just celebrated its 250th episode.  

The event is free and open to the public. It runs from 5:30 to 8 pm on Tuesday, March 5th, at the Corvallis Community Center. More information is available here. 

Tuesday: OSU Authors and Editors Event 

When OSU scientists aren’t busy with their research and teaching duties, many of them are authors and editors, sharing their work and expertise with a wider audience than will ever pick up a scientific journal. This Tuesday night, the university will recognize four authors of recent science and history books: 

  • Ehren Helmut Pflugfelder, author of “Geoengineering, Persuasion, and the Climate Crisis: A Geologic Rhetoric” 
  • Chris Petersen, author of  “Visions of Linus Pauling” 
  • Alison Johnston, author of “Rating Politics: Sovereign Credit Ratings and Democratic Choice in Prosperous Developed Countries” 
  • Jacob Darwin Hamblin and Linda Marie Richards, authors of “Making the Unseen Visible: Science and the Contested Histories of Radiation Exposure” 

Each will give a short reading, and these and other authors from OSU will be recognized and celebrated. The event runs from 5 to 7 pm on Tuesday, March 5th, in the OSU Memorial Union main lounge. 

Wednesday: Garden Design webinar 

If you’re thinking about gardening or adding plants to your home this year, this webinar may be able to help. Laura Eyer is a garden designer and master gardener, and will be giving a one-hour class on basic landscape design, to not only add beauty and biodiversity to your yard, but also add to your home’s value with an attractive and easy to maintain garden. The webinar starts at noon on Wednesday, March 6th. Click here for details, and to register. Even if you aren’t planning on attending, registration gives you access to a recording a few days after the talk. 

By Ian Rose 

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