Who let the frogs out?

I just got a note from Lee Hallagan, class of ’03, this afternoon. Lee wrote his Reed thesis on the reintroduction of the Pacific treefrog (Hyla regilla) into the canyon. As part of that thesis, Lee did a habitat analysis and then released 2,638 Hyla regilla larvae on campus after first collecting them from a nearby wildlife refuge.

Lee writes “I heard that someone saw a frog early in the summer, and I would like to know if you hear about any other sightings. The real test will come in the spring. If I was successful, we should be able to hear them chorusing in the canyon. This would mean that they survived and, more importantly, they are breeding. That would be great.”

If anyone does sight a frog in the canyon, please drop us a note here at Blog Central and we’ll get the word out. To help with identification, here’s a great treefrog photo that Lee sent along:

– posted by Niels

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American Bittern

Check out this great picture of an American Bittern sitting in a Doug fir:



photo was taken by Mac McKinlay ’67 in the lower canyon in late July.
Has anyone else seen this bird? It doesn’t show up on any of our bird
lists for the canyon.
– posted by Niel

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Green-Backed Heron

I saw a green-backed heron again today, under the cross-canyon bridge.
It seems to be a very skittish bird. Great blue herons don’t like human
company, but they’re sly enough to stand still and disappear into the
scenery when humans pass by. Green-backed herons don’t seem to have the
same self-control and they launch into the air at the slightest
disturbance. The ones on campus seem to spend the whole day fleeing
Reedies and looking for a quiet spot in the canyon.

To recognize a green-backed heron, look for the bright yellow legs.
It’s got the same general body shape as a great blue heron, but it’s
much smaller and shorter. When it stalks a fish through shallow water,
the heron hunches down low and lifts its feet almost up to its chest.

You can see a nice photo of a green-backed heron here on the USGS web site: http://biology.usgs.gov/features/photogal/gallery7.html
– posted by Niels

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Residents of the RCAs are walking to school through fields of blooming
chicory at this time of year. You can see the bright blue flowers in
all of the waste areas around the community gardens and there’s just a
bit of it near the fishladder. Chicory (Cichorium intybus) isn’t
a native but I haven’t listed it on our invasive weeds page because it
isn’t much of a problem. The plant is a slow-growing perennial that
doesn’t produce many seeds and it’s easy to pull up.

Chicory is native to Europe, but it was brought to the United
States by immigrants who grew it for food. The young leaves and shoots
can be used in salads and the roots (supposedly) can be dried and used
for a coffee substitute. (I haven’t tried it, myself…)
– posted by Niels

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As I was walking along the gravel path by the rugby field today, I noticed that we have a tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) growing on the edge of the canyon. Ailanthus
was considered an exotic Asian beauty when it was first imported to the
U.S. in 1784. These days it’s more commonly considered a nasty,
invasive weed. The tree is extremely hard to kill and it’s got a deep
taproot that makes it hard to dig up. And it spreads like crazy: a
mature, female tree can produce more than 300,000 seeds every year.

Here in southeast Portland we’ve got a moderate tree-of-heaven
infection. There are several large trees in Sellwood and along 28th
avenue, and you can see the young trees popping up in most vacant lots.
But this is the first Ailanthus I’ve seen in the canyon. It’s odd that it hasn’t been more of a problem.

Has anyone seen another tree-of-heaven in the canyon? If so, please
drop me a line. You can see photos and learn more about the plant here:
– posted by Niels

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This tuesday, as the thunderstorms rolled in, I saw what looked like a
seagull. As it flew closer, and began circling over the Anna Mann lawn,
I could the see how much larger the wing span was and that the bird’s
colorations were that of an Osprey. What a treat! We have often seen
this bird or one of the same species, flying around the theatre annex
and the recycling center on 28th street.

– posted by kathleen

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Invasive Species Weblog

If you have an interest in the invasive species we’re fighting here at Reed, you might want to visit the Invasive Species Weblog
to learn more about the subject. Blog owner Jennifer Forman posts
almost-daily updates about the various battles against plant and animal
invaders around the globe. She’s got news reports, current research,
and info about upcoming conferences and workshops. She also offers a
link to an online store where you can buy clocks, mugs, and so forth
with pictures of invasive plants. (Don’t miss the Japanese Knotweed
baby bib – a must for every new parent!)
– posted by Niels

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See the Bull Run. (Run bull, run.)

All of the water that flows out of taps here in Portland comes from the
Bull Run watershed up on Mt. Hood, where a series of reservoirs capture
and store the runoff from melting snow. To protect water quality, the
watershed is ordinarily off-limits to the public, so few of us ever get
to see the source of our drinking water. But on Saturday, September 13th
the Portland Bureau of Water Works will be offering one of their rare
tours. It’s a great chance to see a protected, almost-pristine forest
close to Portland. The tour costs $15 and advance registration is
required. To register, call (503) 823-7407.
– posted by Niels

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Kalopanax pictus in bloom

If you’re going by the Chemistry building this week, take a moment to
climb the main stairwell and look out the big window at Reed’s only
castor aralia (Kalopanax pictus). The tree was given to Reed as
a gift from Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum in 1972. Biology professor Bert
Brehm planted the tree on the edge of the canyon and it’s now almost
two stories high.

The great thing about the Chemistry stairwell is that it gives you
an up-close view of the flowers when the tree blooms every August. The
castor aralia is in the ginsing family (Araliaceae) and it has that
group’s distinctive way of blooming, with many small flowers grouped
together in rounded, golf-ball-sized clusters. It also has the typical
leaves with lobes and veins that spread out like a fan from a single

Quiz time! Can you think of the three other common plants in the
Portland area that are members of the same family and have similar
leaves and flowers? I’ve hidden the answers in the white space below
and you can highlight the text with your mouse to see them. (Hints: One
is an invasive pest here on campus, another is a thorny plant in the
gorge, and the third is a common houseplant.)

Answers: English Ivy (Hedera helix), Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridum), and Schefflera (Schefflera sp.)
– posted by Niels

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More owl sightings

The young owls may have left their nest by the art building and moved a
little downstream. A gardener at the Reed community gardens saw a young
owl in a tree by the rugby field just after sunset last week. She
didn’t see any older owls around.
– posted by Niels

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