We have few new babies of the month this time of year in Central Oregon, but you’ll definitely still be seeing babies from previous months begin to grow and leave their nests. Chipmunks born in May will finally be venturing out of their burrows and learning to forage with their families. They look exactly like their parents, but they may not be as wary of predators (like us) as they should be. Please give them plenty of space and do not feed them–this is how animals become habituated to human activity and either become pests or, more likely, an easy catch for a domestic cat.
One small bird is still working on their first clutch this late in the year: the Lesser Goldfinch! American Goldfinches are very common here in Central Oregon and are frequent feeder visitors. Lesser Goldfinches are discernable by their black cloak, which is much more extreme than the American Goldfinch’s black forehead and wings. Females and juveniles also lack the solid black wings of the American, and may look more brown across the wings and back.
What local animal is also giving birth to live young this month? You may be surprised–it’s the garter snake! All four species of garter snake in Oregon give live birth instead of laying eggs. The rubber boa, a harmless constrictor, and the Western rattlesnake also give live birth and are all in completely different families! These unique local live-bearers also include the short-horned lizard. Can you believe so many reptiles don’t lay eggs? The wonders of convergent evolution!
Just as a note, we know how fun it is to pick up lizards, frogs, or snakes and see how many you can catch, but it is illegal to possess any of these native Oregon animals. Please make sure your children release any small animals they may collect for fun during summer activities. They are important parts of the ecosystem and often do not do well when captured from the wild and kept in captivity. Leave them for other people and generations to enjoy! Not only will you avoid breaking the law, you’ll have free pest control!
Written by: Lindsay Magill