DEBATE OF '98- responsibilities of forest land owners

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Wed Apr 29 23:59:36 EST 1998

In article <3547a21b.0 at>,
  dhogaza at (Don Baccus) wrote:
> In article <6i7kea$ii$1 at>,  <dwheeler at> wrote:
> >In article <35465522.0 at>,
> >  dhogaza at (Don Baccus) wrote:
> >> So his results based on a study in N CA doesn't necessarily contradict
> >> Forsman's studies which were conducted in classic wet, western OR
> >> old-growth.
> >The only study I had heard about inre nso was compiled mostly in Eastern
> >Oregon
> Well, that's fine, but I know Forsman worked in western Oregon, and Johnsgard's
> quote is very specific in its description of the forest Forsman's work was
> done in...but I also have friends who've done nso work who've had pairs taking
> large numbers of voles, just as you describe.  Unfortunately, they've worked
> in so many parts of the state that I don't remember which was where or where
> was which or whatever.
I'm concerned about the description of "Western Oregon." Many nso are located
in the Siskyous, a relatively high, dry side of "Western Oregon, if by that
appellation we stipulate "west of the Cascade Mountains."

While California red-backed voles are present in the Siskiyous, the area
geologically is part of a very old part of Oregon which was once and island
that got annexed. Thus the rock there tends to be of serpentine and _very_
shallow. Since California red-backed voles are subterranean when soil depth
permits, this area forces them to the utilize any woody debris as cover in
areas where there is little topsoil and nearly no humus layer.

> >where the Northern Flying squirrel is rather common. On the west side
> >of the Cascades, the squirrel is sometimes found, but far less abundant. It's
> >presence is dependent upon suitable habitat: usually large diameter snags and
> >older (100+ foot) Douglas fir,
> Some folks have a place somewhat near Oxbow Park, on the Sandy, and have
> flying squirrels which come to feeders.  They let Portland Audubon bring folks
> out at night to watch 'em sometimes.  Being nocturnal, they are hard to see.
There are a few older trees near Oxbow.

> >> Depends on where.  Redwoods, yes.  N CA Cascades - I've heard conflicting
> >> information.  Classic wet, wetside coniferous forest - breeding, at least,
> >> is still almost unknown except where there's significant old-growth
> >> available.  Or, so the leader of the Oregon State Cooperative Wildlife
> >> Unit's nso project told me two years ago.

> >I thought we had found a dead nso near La Center last year in a 20-year-
> >old plantation, with the nearest older growth (80 yr old trees) about 1/4 mile
> >away. The carcass had been banded, but was quite odiferous when found and
> >lacked any head feathers at all. I estimated the length to be 20-22 inches,
> >which would have placed it very large for a nso. Still, Washington DOE
> >indicated it may well have been a nso because the band was metal.
> Hmmm...given the size, I'd say a barred owl is a distinct possibility.  I
> find the DOE comment is a bit weird because, by law, banders must ALWAYS affix
> a USF&W metal band, even if the study uses color bands to make identification
> via binos of a small set of birds possible.  On the other hand, we once
> caught a peregrine that only had a blue plastic, strangely numbered band on
> it, no USF&W band.  Took the bird banding lab about six months to track it
> down (which is why the law requires USF&W bands!) - BLM had banded it as
> a nestling just south of Prudhoe Bay.  Hopefully they got spanked for not
> using a USF&W band as well.
A very distinct possibility. When I first entered the stand I scarred a
medium-sized barn owl from a roost during the daytime. I presume it flew in
the generaly direction that owl carcass was later found. Since most raptors
are extremely territorial, possibly that accounts for the carcass found two
weeks later.

> >> This sounds backwards to me, at least as far as wood rat goes.  Indeed, it's
> >> exactly backwards of Johnsgard (largely based on Forsman's study, which was
> >> the latest available when the book was written).  Wood rat is significant
> >> in more open forests, and indeed is responsible for the success of nso in
> >> 2nd growth redwoods, where wood rats find resprouting redwood stumps ideal
> >> for their largish nests.  The rockies were cited by Johnsgard, again a
> >> drier forest than our classic wet western coniferous forests west of the
> >> Cascades in Oregon.
> >Exactly. Which leads me to believe that any study including wood rat has to
> >deal with drier climates, such as east of the Cascades, or south of the
> >Siskiyous.
> The Johnsgard summary indicates wood rats as being important elsewhere, as
> opposed to Forsman's westside study (I know for a fact that Forsman worked
> in western Oregon, I just don't know where within western Oregon).  Wood
> rats aren't unknown west of the cascades, in fact they're very common in
> redwood second growth and are the major prey item of nso living in such
> habitat.
I remain unconvinced. In 35 years of traipsing around western Oregon, I have
yet to see an actual wood rat. However, while I was teaching in the Blue
Mountains at John Day, wood rat nests were relatively common (wherever larger
snags/woody debris hadn't been hauled away already.)

> Anyway, there's been so much work done since either Maser's or Forsman's
> early efforts that I wouldn't really depend TOO much on what either found.
> --
> - Don Baccus, Portland OR <dhogaza at>
>   Nature photos, on-line guides, at
You may be right. I'd feel better if I had seen more flying squirrels and wood
rats in western Oregon, though.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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