WILDERNESS FUN FACTS

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Why does the Three Sisters Wilderness have a capital “W”?

TheThree Sisters Wilderness was set aside by Congress to be a designated Wilderness because of its unique and outstanding characteristics. Wilderness areas like the Three Sisters are protected so that they retain their natural state and are largely untrammeled by man, providing essential habitat for wildlife and preserving their wild characteristics for the enjoyment of future generations. The Deschutes National Forest has five Wilderness areas: the Three Sisters Wilderness, the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, the Mt. Washington Wilderness, the Diamond Peak Wilderness, and a small piece of the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness.

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Do elk sleep standing up?

No, elk sleep lying down just like you do. Their bedding grounds may be located near trails, so please respect their need for quiet. Walk quietly, and let them sleep.

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Are bluebirds blue?

Nope, they’re gray! According to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, red and yellow feathers get their color from pigments, called carotenoids, that are in the foods birds eat. But blue is different―no bird species can make blue from pigments. When we see a blue bird, the color is created by the way light waves interact with the feathers and their arrangement of protein molecules, called keratin. Different keratin structures reflect light in subtly different ways to produce different shades of what our eyes perceive as the color blue. A blue feather under ultraviolet light might look uniformly gray to human eyes.

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How do you build a safe campfire?

The Five D’s of building a safe campfire are “Down, Dry, Dinky, Dead... and Don’t!”

Down: Build a campfire only out of wood that is already down. Don’t cut firewood from live trees.

Dry: Use only dry wood. Your fire will burn brighter and will produce less smoke if the wood is dry.

Dinky: Build only a small fire. Roaring fires throw off sparks that can ignite the forest around you.

Dead: When you go to sleep or leave camp, make sure your fire is dead out. This means you can use your bare hand to spread the ashes.

Don’t: Only build a campfire in an emergency. If you are cold, wrap up in your sleeping bag or go in your tent. If you are bored, get out your star map! Play word games. Sing!

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What’s the skinny on Wilderness trails? When is it OK to hike side-by-side?

Sorry, it’s never OK to hike side-by-side on a Wilderness trail. Wilderness trails are all designed with single-track tread, just wide enough for one person. Wilderness trails are deliberately built for single-file travel. That’s not very romantic, but it does lessen the impact of our footsteps and slows erosion.

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How close can I get to a deer?

If you can see a deer, you’re close enough. Deer protect themselves by running away from danger. If you attempt to move closer, the deer will run away from you, using precious energy reserves they’ll need to survive the coming winter. So please, stay back and allow them to calmly go about their lives.

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What does Hollywood think of bald eagles?

It’s a scene you’ve probably seen countless times in movies and on TV: an eagle soars overhead and emits a rough, piercing scream. It's a classic symbol of wilderness and adventure. The only problem? Bald eagles don't make that sound.

Instead, they emit a sort of high-pitched giggle or weak scream. Their calls are so unimpressive that Hollywood sound editors often dub over bald eagle calls with the piercing, earthy screams of the red-tailed hawk. If you were a fan of The Colbert Report, you might remember the show's iconic CGI eagle from the opener—it, too, is making that red-tailed hawk cry. Listen for yourself and decide who sounds more impressive.

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When do deer and elk obey traffic signs?

Deer and elk obey the “Deer Crossing” signs you see along the highway. That’s because deer and elk follow the same migratory routes year after year as they move between their summer and winter ranges. They typically spend the winter at low elevations, where they can find food and shelter from winter storms. When the weather starts to warm, they migrate to higher elevations where food is plentiful in summer.

Young elk and deer learn these migratory routes by following their mothers and other individuals. Consequently, they use the same migration routes year after year, and over generations. Migration routes can, therefore, be viewed as historical links to elk and deer herds from the past. They continue to follow these same paths to familiar places because they learned that they provide food, shelter, and water.

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Are bald eagle nests competition for This Old House?

Indeed, they are. Bald eagles build enormous nests high in the treetops. The male and female build their nest together, and this quality time helps them cement their lifelong bond. Their cozy nurseries consist of a framework of sticks lined with softer stuff such as grass and feathers. If the nest serves them well during the breeding season, they'll keep using it year after year. And, like all homeowners, they can't resist the thought of renovating and adding to their abode. Every year, they'll spruce it up with a whopping foot or two of new material.