Backyard Naturalist: Week #6

Where YOU get to be a naturalist in your own backyard.

matt out in nature


by Matt Porter
OAS Staff

This is the sixth and final installment of OAS’ Backyard Naturalist series. A big thank you to everyone that read this blog, attended the live sessions, shared their own nature experiences, and asked questions. Thank you again to Debbie and Jim for being our guest speakers. It has been a pleasure sharing these experiences with everyone. As restrictions begin to ease, and we begin to look at where we can observe nature outside of our own towns and backyards, I will leave you with a few resources to get the day dreams going. Although these links are centered around birding, the locations will most certainly offer a plethora of nature experiences of all kinds. 

Travel Oregon Best Fall Birding Trails

Portland Audubon Oregon Birding Hotspots

Oregon Live 20 Great Bird Watching Spots Around Oregon

Audubon Birding in Oregon


Bird(s) of the Week

Common English Name: American Crow

Scientific Name: Corvus brachyrhynchos

Common English Name: Common Raven

Scientific Name: Corvus corax

These birds belong to the highly intelligent and usually conspicuous Corvidae family along with other common species such as jays and magpies. They are found throughout the state on both sides of the Cascades. I included both of these birds because at first they seem similar. The raven is usually significantly larger overall than the crow and has a larger stouter beak along with a wedge shaped tail in flight compared to the rounded tail of the crow. They also have their own unique sounds when compared back-to-back.

Click here to learn more about the American Crow and here to hear the sounds it makes

Click here to learn more about the Common Raven and here to hear the sounds it makes

Click here for a physical comparison between the American Crow and Common Raven.


Plant of the Week

Common English Name: Yarrow 

Scientific Name: Achillea millefolium

This species is widely distributed throughout the state of Oregon from yards to roadsides and everything in between. There are several varieties of the most common in Oregon being Common Yarrow (var. millefolium) and Western Yarrow (var. occidentalis). Western yarrow is native while common yarrow was introduced from Europe. The USDA plant fact sheet states that common yarrow “…is considerably different from western yarrow in that it has a much taller stature, aggressive vigor, and weedy characteristics. Common yarrow also initiates a later sequence of flowering and seed ripening.” More importantly, this plant can be confused with Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum). Please consult the link provided below that compares yarrow to two other lookalikes, Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus Carota) and Poison Hemlock. Check out the resources below if you’d like to learn more about this interesting plant with a long history of human use.



Backyard Naturalist 1

Backyard Naturalist 2

Backyard Naturalist 3

Backyard Naturalist 4

Backyard Naturalist 5

Backyard Naturalist 6


If you are interested in attending this weeks’ live backyard naturalist session and haven’t already registered, please in the link below. Til next week…happy nature observing!