More than a decade ago, OREGON FIELD GUIDE reported on an experiment to move an entire colony of terns in order to save the wild salmon they were feasting on. It appeared to have worked great, but now there’s a new danger. Tune in to the stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting on Thursday, December 16 at 8:30pm (and Sunday, December 19 at 1:30am and 6:30pm) to learn more about salmon-eating cormorants that are devouring more salmon than tern ever did. We also join a search for reptiles and a rare weasel.
Terns & Cormorants - Decades ago, dredging created an island in the Columbia River that proved the perfect habitat for the Caspian tern. The population flourished into the tens of thousands and consumed vast quantities of salmon. About 10 years ago, scientists experimented with removing the birds to another nesting habitat 15 miles downstream at the ocean’s edge, and it worked. The terns dramatically changed their diet, consuming about 50 percent less salmon. But a healthy tern population dramatically increased. And now scientists are trying to lure the colony away from the Columbia River entirely. Nesting sites in several areas in Oregon and California have been developed in hopes to more evenly disperse the birds. That might be the end of the story, but it seems that about seven years ago, the world’s largest colony of double-crested cormorants arrived on Sand Island, and they’re even hungrier for salmon than the terns. FIELD GUIDE revisits Sand Island for a look at these grand birds. We also meet the scientists studying them in an effort to determine a course of action to save the salmon from this growing threat.
Reptile Hunter - Join two field herpetologists who like to get up close to reptiles. At the abandoned U.S. Army Camp Adair near Corvallis, they turn over metal sheets and piles of rubbish to find colorful non-poisonous species. In the eastern end of the Columbia Gorge, they tread softly to spot Western rattlers sunning on rocks. It’s an unusual hobby that brought this couple together and keep them searching for all kinds of rare reptiles and amphibians.
Fishers - The fisher, a member of the weasel family, once thrived in the Pacific Northwest. As a result of over trapping near the turn of the century and destruction of habitat due to logging, it is now rare to see one. FIELD GUIDE heads into the snowy forests of the Cascades with biologists trying to gather information about what’s happening to the population that may number only about 50.
Videos of the stories featured on FIELD GUIDE are available at opb.org/programs/ofg/ or watch entire programs at watch.opb.org.
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About OREGON FIELD GUIDE
In its 22nd season, OREGON FIELD GUIDE remains a valuable source of information about outdoor recreation, ecological issues, natural resources and travel destinations. OREGON FIELD GUIDE airs Thursday evenings at 8:30pm on the television stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting and repeats on Sundays at 1:30am and 6:30pm. In the Mountain Time zone of Eastern Oregon, the program airs at 9:30pm Thursdays, and at 7:30pm Sundays.
OPB is the largest cultural and education institution in the region, delivering excellence in public broadcasting to 1.5 million people each week through television, radio and the Internet. Widely recognized as a national leader in the public broadcasting arena, OPB is a major contributor to the program schedule that serves the entire country. OPB is one of the most-used and most-supported public broadcasting services in the country and is generously supported by 120,000 contributors.