BOOK: Birds of the Pacific Northwest

Fans of the series of Pacific Northwest field guides from Timber Press in Portland might like to know that they have published a new guide for birds (it joins their guides covering wildlife, insects, wildflowers, trees & shrubs, mushrooms, and the natural history of Pacific Northwest mountains).


John Shewey and Tim Blount, Birds of the Pacific Northwest (Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2017), 560 pp. 934 color photos, 3 illustrations, 357 range maps.

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Publisher’s description Birds of the Pacific Northwest describes and illustrates more than 400 bird species commonly encountered in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia. This comprehensive, full-color guide is organized to follow the order in which groups and species are presented by the American Union. Range maps for each species provide valuable information for identification.

This is a beautifully produced guide to either take with you when out in nature looking for birds or to have on the shelf as an as-needed go-to resource.

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Guest Post: Super Nature Adventures & a Giveaway

What is hiking like with your kids? If it’s anything like it is with us, sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s…well…not so much. We know what it’s like to have a kid throw a fit on a trail because we’ve been there ourselves, trying anything we can to turn a stressful situation around.

We are parents in Portland who believe strongly in the power of nature to transform kids’ lives. We know that time outdoors can stimulate creativity, build self-reliance, and foster a greater humility towards the larger world. But we also know that hiking with kids often doesn’t go quite as planned.

That’s where Super Nature Adventures comes in. Super Nature Adventures is a new business my husband and I launched this spring for Portland area families with preschool and elementary-aged kids. Our goal is to help ignite kids’ love of nature with materials that make family hiking engaging and fun.

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How does Super Nature Adventures Work?
At Super Nature Adventures, we offer fun subscription packets that are delivered by mail at the end of every month. Each packet focuses on a different family-friendly trail in the Portland area that we have selected for more in-depth exploration. For every month that you sign up, your kid(s) get a packet filled with hands-on materials designed to motivate and engage them on the trail. The contents include:

  • A map for the trail with “nature find” scavenger stickers
  • A field guide with coloring and learning activities
  • A kid-friendly Code of the Trail to help with rules for hiking
  • A “Super Nature Hero” sticker to celebrate the trail
  • A newsletter with information for parents about the trail

All the materials are hand illustrated in a whimsical style that borrows loosely from both the comic book and zine genres. The maps and stickers are both waterproof and are packaged in protective plastic that kids can use to carry them on the trail. Currently, we offer three different kinds of purchase options: a 1-month, 3-month, or 6-month subscription. The longest subscription is the best deal.

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Choosing Each Month’s trail
We take the trail selection process seriously. We want the hikes that we focus on to be fun for everyone involved. We scout every trail multiple times with kids to ensure it meets their standards as well as ours – that it has a variety of wonders that delight kids and adults alike. Our process also involves researching the habitats, history, and geology, with an eye for trails that allow us to support engagement from multiple frameworks for the kids. Another goal is to showcase the wide variety of parks and trails that Portland offers.

We also want to help kids recognize how habitats change with the changing seasons. We love offering a subscription because it allows us to celebrate what makes each season special, whether it’s trilliums, or slugs, or bumblebees. Plus, with our waterproof maps and stickers, we have created a subscription plan to support getting outdoors no matter what the weather.

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This month we are selling a packet for a trail in Powell Butte Nature Park (pictured above). We love this trail as a summer adventure because it’s one of the best parks in the city to view Portland’s surrounding mountains. We also chose it for the wide variety of wildlife and some of the best butterfly viewing in the city in the summer. Powell Butte is an extinct cone volcano; we’re really excited about this packet because you can use it to explore volcano geology with your kids.

Some Deals and a Giveaway!
Interested in trying our packets out? Right now we have a couple of great deals going to celebrate summer vacation. If you are interested in getting a 1-month subscription, you can get 15% off when you use the discount 15FORSUMMER at checkout. Even better, get 25% any 3-month or 6-month subscription with the discount code SUPERNATURESUMMER. Hurry, these deals will end on June 27!

We are also excited to announce a fun giveaway for one lucky reader here at Exploring Portland’s Natural Areas! Follow the instructions below for a chance to win a one month subscription!

  1. Join Michael’s Facebook group PDX Kids in Nature.
  2. Like the Facebook page for Super Nature Adventures.
  3. In the PDX Kids in Nature group, answer the question in this post: “What is a nature location in the Portland you haven’t visited but really want to?”
  4. If you are already in Michael’s group or like our Facebook page, you just have to complete the other elements.
  5. If you already own a subscription you can still win an extra month.

Enter by Wednesday, June 28th at 5pm PST Sunday, July 2 at 5pm PST. The winner will be randomly picked from the entries that evening.

UPDATE (7/3/17): the winner of the Super Nature Adventures giveaway is Eleni O’Neill – congrats! 

-Bryna Campbell, co-founder of Super Nature Adventures

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BOOK: Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story

I have long had a 1931 edition of the book Handbook of Nature Study (1911) that I treasure, handed down to me from my grandfather. It’s author, Anna Comstock, was always a lover of nature. But she decided to major in English and history at Cornell University. However, she was so fascinated by learning about insects in a zoology course that she changed her studies to natural history. She assisted her husband in illustrating and editing his entomological publications, and would soon start to write her own articles and books. She organized programs to instruct teachers in New York and beyond in the proper methods for nature study. Her legacy, to this day appreciated by many who work to instill a love of nature in their children or students, is that the most important way to teach kids about nature is to take them outside into nature (her book remains in print). I am delighted to see a new children’s book about Anna Comstock and her mission:


Suzanne Slade, Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story (Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2017), 32 pp. Illustrated by Jessica Lanan.

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Publisher’s description This picture book biography examines the life and career of naturalist and artist Anna Comstock (1854-1930), who defied social conventions and pursued the study of science. From the time she was a young girl, Anna Comstock was fascinated by the natural world. She loved exploring outdoors, examining wildlife and learning nature’s secrets. From watching the teamwork of marching ants to following the constellations in the sky, Anna observed it all. And her interest only increased as she grew older and went to college at Cornell University. There she continued her studies, pushing back against those social conventions that implied science was a man’s pursuit. Eventually Anna became known as a nature expert, pioneering a movement to encourage schools to conduct science and nature classes for children outdoors, thereby increasing students’ interest in nature. In following her passion, this remarkable woman blazed a trail for female scientists today.

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Monday thought of the week: the play room

A thought:

… I think it’s fine for kids to pick, pluck, move, squish, haul and use the physical equivalent of their “outdoor voices” outdoors. If we want kids to have any true, deep feelings for nature, they can’t grow up thinking of it as the living room. It has to be the play room, the one where happy memories were made. That love, that connection, will serve the kids AND the environment far better in the long run.

– Lenore Skenazy, “Treating Nature Like a Snooty Museum,” Free-Range Kids (June 30, 2015 )

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Upcoming nature events in Portland

— Please check for any schedule changes or registration requirements —

List of Summer Camp 2017 opportunities

Upcoming OMSI Science Pubs about ice age floods, the total solar eclipse, volcanoes, and PNW geology

Upcoming Intertwine Regional Eco-Blitz events

Upcoming events with the Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (in WA)

Upcoming Sunday Parkways events around the city

Upcoming community paddles with the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership

Nature classes at Portland area parks from Tinkergarten

Discovery Hikes with the Forest Park Conservancy

Family-friendly hikes with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge (click on the family-friendly filter to the right of the screen)

Hike series with Oregon Wild

Spring tours at the Hoyt Arboretum

Free Metro Parks Day on June 21

Spring nature programming from THPRD

Spring nature programming from the Friends of Tryon Creek

Spring nature programming at Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Hillsboro), including their regular Lunch with the Birds and Sunset Sit, Moonrise Smile outings

Spring nature programming at the Tillamook Forest Center

Spring nature programming at the Leach Botanical Garden

Free Skills Series from Rewild Portland (every month)

Bird watching outings with Audubon Society of Portland

Bird and kid’s nature walks with Backyard Bird Shop

June 3 | National Trails Day | American Hiking Society

June 3 | Oregon State Parks Day | Oregon State Parks

June 3 | Free Family Fun Day on the Farm | Schoolyard Farms and Ecology in Classrooms & Outdoors

June 3 | Curious Kids Nature Guide Reading and Craft | Green Bean Books

June 5 | World Environment Day | #NatureForAll

June 7 | Conversation & Cocktails: Inspiring the Next Generation of Nature Enthusiasts | NWF

June 8 | Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids | Hillsboro Public Library

June 11| Animal tracking adventure (Oxbow Regional Park) | Metro

June 14 | Puddle Stompers | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

June 20 | Puddle Stompers | Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

June 24 | ¡Explorando el Columbia Slough! | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

June 24 | Urban Kids Fishing Derby (at Mt. Hood Comm. College) | Urban American Outdoors/

June 24 | Farmington Paddle Launch grand opening and Tualatin River Discovery Day | Metro

June 24 | Gathering at Gateway Green | Friends of Gateway Green

June 24 | Howell Pollinator EcoBlitz | Metro

June 24 | Stayin’ Alive: Survival fires (Oxbow Regional Park) | Metro

June 24 | Bug Out With Don Ehlen! | Paxton Gate PDX

July 12-15 | National Children & Youth Garden Symposium in Vancouver, WA

July 13 | Twilight Thursday (Blue Lake Regional Park) | Metro

July 14 | Families in the field: forest adventure (Scouters Mountain Nature Park) | Metro

July 15 | Herons and eagles of River Island (Barton Park) | Metro

August 4 | Families in the field: winged wildlife discovery (Blue Lake Regional Park) | Metro

August 6 | 23rd Annual Columbia Slough Regatta | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

August 10 | Twilight Thursday (Smith and Bybee Wtlands Natural Area) | Metro

August 12 | Nadaka Park Festival | Friends of Nadaka & Columbia Slough Watershed Council

August 12 | The wild side of the wetland (Blue Lake Regional Park) | Metro

Regular nature outings (check websites for seasonal scheduling):
Story and Strolls and Guided Nature Walks at Tryon Creek State Park
Ladybug Nature Walks with Portland Parks Environmental Education
Puddle Stompers at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Nature Mobile from THPRD’s Natural Resources
Honeybee Hikes at Leach Botanical Garden
Tadpole Tales with Columbia Slough Watershed Council
Farm Fridays at Zenger Farm
Second Saturdays at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA
Guided hikes at Columbia Springs in Vancouver, WA (third Wed. of most months)
Tillamook Tales at the Tillamook Forest Center

Did you know?
– $2 admission at OMSI the first Sunday of every month
– $3 admission at the World Forestry Center the first Thursday of every month
– $4 admission at the Oregon Zoo the second Tuesday of every month
– FREE admission at the Portland Art Museum the first Thursday of every month, 5-8pm
– FREE admission at the Portland Children’s Museum the first Friday of every month, 4-8pm
– FREE admission at the Oregon Historical Society & Museum every day for Multnomah County residents

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Monday thought of the week & a new book for parents – Let Them Eat Dirt

A thought:

When children are out walking or playing in a green space… the risk of getting infected with microbes that carry human diseases decreases drastically. Allow your children to touch anything they want (except animal waste), including dirt, mud, trees, plants, insects, etc. Don’t act on the urge to clean them right after they get dirty, either; let them stay dirty for as long as the play session lasts or until it’s time to eat. In fact, our children experience so little time outdoors compared to previous generations that it’s ideal to encourage them to get dirty during the little time they have outside.

– B. Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta, in Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanatized World, p. 135

When you spend so much time getting your kids outside, you’re sure enough going to deal with them getting dirty. My daughter especially loves to dig her little fingers into mud and roll little mud balls that she then presses onto the ends of little sticks, pushing the whole thing into the ground and proclaiming, “I made a mushroom!” She’ll do this repeatedly, and her hands become absolutely covered in dirt. While it’s natural to feel like I should clean her hands up sooner than later, I’ve gotten used to just letting her nature-connected hands be for a while. We can clean up when we get home, or before lunch. Allowing a little bit of earth to remain on her hands benefits her health. It’s a claim often thrown around when discussing nature connection for kids – “If you let kinds get dirty in nature, they’ll grow up healthier as adults.” And increasingly it’s a claim that’s shown to be true. A new book looks at the science behind the claim:


B. Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta, Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanatized World (Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2016), 304 pp.

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Publisher’s description In the two hundred years since we discovered that microbes cause infectious diseases, we’ve battled to keep them at bay. But a recent explosion of scientific knowledge has led to undeniable evidence that early exposure to these organisms is beneficial to a child’s well-being. Our modern lifestyle, with its emphasis on hyper-cleanliness, is taking a toll on children’s lifelong health. In this engaging and important book, microbiologists Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta explain how the trillions of microbes that live in and on our bodies influence childhood development; why an imbalance of those microbes can lead to obesity, diabetes, and asthma, among other chronic conditions; and what parents can do–from conception on–to positively affect their own behaviors and those of their children. They describe how natural childbirth, breastfeeding, and solid foods influence children’s microbiota. They also offer practical advice on matters such as whether to sterilize food implements for babies, the use of antibiotics, the safety of vaccines, and why having pets is a good idea. Forward-thinking and revelatory, Let Them Eat Dirt is an essential book in helping us to nurture stronger, more resilient, happy, and healthy kids.

Authors’ website for the book with some resources

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Wednesday photo of the week: our neighborhood trail


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Monday thought of the week: little outdoor people

A thought:

Kids are natural little outdoor people. It is we, the adults, that turn them into indoor people.

– Mark Jenkins, in the Foreword to Jennifer Bove, ed., Wild with Child: Adventures of Families in the Great Outdoors (Palo Alto: Solas House/Travelers’ Tales, 2010), p. x

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Wednesday photo of the week: salamander


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Monday thought of the week: natural playmates

[I’ve been neglecting my Monday thought of the week and Wednesday photo of the week posts recently. I enjoy posting them, and hope my readers enjoying reading and seeing them… so let’s get back to it!]

A thought:

Nature and children are natural playmates – they’re both wild and messy, unpredictable and beautiful.

– Mark Hoelterhoff (quoted in the book Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence by Marc Bekoff)

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