As a conservation professional, Phillip Elden is always looking for fun ways to teach the next generation about the natural world. Keep reading for more information on one of the most informational activities that you can do with your own children.
What are owl pellets?
According to Phillip Elden, an owl pellet is a mass of undigested food that owls coughed up once they have extracted all of the nutrition possible from a kill. Owl pellets can be found in the wild or bought online, and many schools use them as a learning tool to help students understand predator behavior. Owl pellets can be dissected rather easily.
Oregon is a state with vast open areas and a diverse range of wildlife. According to Phillip Elden, this makes it the perfect location for a variety of creepy, crawly, insects.
One of the most unusual critters in Oregon is the assassin bug. While not particularly large, the assassin bug features a long beak that’s not visible at first glance. It is best to approach the assassin bug with extreme caution since its bite, while not deadly, is extremely painful, something that Phillip Elden has experienced first-hand.
A bit larger but less scary is the large milkweed bug. They typically swarm in large groups and are feared by farmers who mistakenly believe they will harm vegetable crops and flower gardens. Thankfully, Phillip Elden explains that this is not true and these colorful orange and black, flat-back creatures typically feed on nectar of the milkweed plant, hence their name.
Have you ever swatted at a bee hoping to strike it from the sky? Chances are, you have. But next time, stop and think first. According to conservationist Phillip Elden, the amount of good that bees do far surpasses the threat of being stung.
Bees, says Phillip Elden, are powerful pollinators, and they are directly responsible for more than $19 billion in agricultural cultivation in the United States every year. Without bees, much of the food you eat would be either exorbitantly expensive or, worse, would not exist at all.
The average person is only familiar with a few of the more than 25,000 bee species. However, in the US alone, there are more than 4000 different types of bee buzzing around on any given day. The most well-known are the carpenter bee, honey bee, and bumblebee. These, along with a handful of other pollinators, are largely responsible for everything from flowers to produce. Continue reading
From the air to the ground, trees play a part in our environment. Keep reading as conservation expert Phillip Elden extols the benefits of the plant you likely see every day but don’t think about.
Q: Why are trees so important?
Phillip Elden: Trees play dozens of roles. They help animals, people, and the land in some surprising ways. First, and perhaps most well-known, is that trees help reduce climate change. They absorb CO2 and then release oxygen into the air. It’s estimated that a single acre of mature trees can offset the effects of driving 26,000 miles. CO2 is not the only airborne contaminant that trees combat. Their leaves are also effective at reducing sulfur dioxide, nitrogen, and ammonia from the air.
If the word raptor conjures up images of an attack from above, you have a good idea of what this class of predator is. According to environmentalist Phillip Elden, a raptor is simply a bird of prey that hunts during the day.
A bird of prey is an animal that hunts for dinner while flying through the air. They have vision that far surpasses regular flying animals and can easily spot their next meal while moving at great speeds hundreds of feet away. Raptors, like all birds of prey, have the best naturally-occurring eyesight with unparalleled ability to focus on moving prey. Further, their depth perception is unmatched.
Trees are something that we take for granted, says conservationist Phillip Elden. However, deforestation in the name of “progress” means that the United States is losing thousands of these valuable resources every day. Anyone concerned about the loss of green space has the power to make a difference by planting a single tree.
According to Phillip Elden, each new tree that is planted provides many services to both people and the environment. First, Elden explains, trees help filter the air. Next, trees, of all shapes and sizes, serve as a habitat for small mammals and insects.
How to plant a tree
Phillip Elden reports that it is not difficult to successfully plant a tree, even one that has been wrapped in burlap and is missing part of its root system. He explains that site preparation is imperative.
Oregon is known for its diverse flora and fauna. But what makes this range of plant and animal life possible? According to conservationist Phillip Elden, it is, at least in part, due to the temperate climate of the region. There are four distinct seasons in Oregon but none of them are extreme.
Spring is the wet season, says Phillip Elden. But contrary to how the state is depicted in the media, it doesn’t rain every day. Instead, Oregon has warm weather with many days full of sunshine. Showers are common but often clear out by noon, leaving plenty of sun to help the colorful trees of the season bloom.
From July through September, Oregon is warmer, sometimes hitting 100 degrees. Phillip Elden notes that humidity is reasonable and rarely jumps higher than 60 percent. The best part about summer in the state is the long days. Darkness doesn’t fall until well after 9:30 and June can stay daylight until after 10PM.