Oregon is one of the most geographically diverse states in America. The Northwestern State comprises deserts, dense evergreen forests, mixed forests, volcanoes, semi-arid shrublands, and abundant water, making it the ninth-largest state in the United States. These varying landscapes provide Oregon with different habitat choices for its diverse animal species.
According to Oregon State University, the state has over 500 bird species, while other reports give stats of over 130 mammals. The official mammal of the state is the American Beaver. Though the animal is not known for its speed, Oregon is home to some of the fastest animals worldwide. Discover the six of the fastest animals in Oregon in ascending order:
6. Cougars – 50mph
Cougars are among the fastest cats worldwide, outpaced by only cheetahs and jaguars. These predators can reach up to 50mph, making them the fastest land predators in America. Their incredible pace results from their big paws and powerful hind legs, making them great jumpers. However, cougars are short-distance sprinters and are not built for long chases.
According to stats from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon has a population of about 6,000 cougars. They are commonly found in the state’s Blue Mountains and the Cascade Mountains. They are also the second largest felines on the continent, with a maximum weight of about 200 pounds. However, this does not discourage these predators from hunting prey such as moose and elks, which are heavier than them. An uncommon fact about cougars is that they cannot roar.
5. Pronghorn – 55mph
According to the Guinness World Records, pronghorns are the fastest long-distance animals in the world. These deer-shaped animals have a maximum speed of 55mph and have been observed to maintain 35mph over four miles. While cheetahs are widely considered the fastest land animals, they cannot maintain their fast speeds for long distances, unlike the North American pronghorn.
Pronghorns look like antelopes but belong to a different family group called Antilocapridae. These fast herbivores can weigh between 90 and 150 pounds and are easily recognized by the white patches on their rumps. Pronghorns live in open plains, grasslands, deserts, and basins, extending their range from the south of Canada to the north of Mexico. According to reports, Oregon is home to about 25,000 pronghorns, mostly found in eastern Oregon and the Columbia Plateau.
4. Anna’s Hummingbird – 60mph
According to news reports, Anna’s hummingbird can reach up to 385 body lengths per second, clocking speeds over 60mph. While that might appear little, the Eurofighter jet, which has a top speed of over 1,000mph, can only cover 39 body lengths per second. Unlike other fast animals, Anna’s hummingbirds fly fast to impress the females and not to evade danger or chase down prey.
According to ODFW, Anna’s hummingbirds are the largest hummingbird species in Oregon, and they are the only hummingbird species commonly found in the state during the winter. These four-inch-long birds can be found around the Cascades and the Columbia River.
3. Sailfish – 68mph
The fastest fish worldwide, the sailfish, is also an inhabitant of Oregon coastlines along the Pacific Ocean. According to the Guinness World Records, these fish are fast over short distances. A sailfish was observed to have clocked 68mph at a speed trial in Florida, setting the record. According to the University of Notre Dame, the sailfish can attain such incredible speeds inside the ocean because of their large dorsal fin, which they can fold or leave erect while swimming.
The sailfish species is part of the Istiophoridae family which also has other fish, such as spearfish and marlins. According to the Florida Museum, sailfish can grow over 10 feet and have elongated bills. Their diet includes sardines, ribbonfish, and squid. The peak months for fishing sailfish in Oregon are between May and October.
2. Golden Eagle – 200mph
The golden eagle is one of the fastest animals in North America. These large birds of prey have a horizontal speed of about 80 mph, but they can dive at an incredible speed of over 200mph. According to science reports, one factor that influences the speed of golden eagles is their long wingspan exceeding seven feet.
Golden eagles are found throughout the year in the western parts of the United States. Based on account of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, golden eagles are commonly found in Oregon counties east of the Cascade Range. These birds are the largest soaring raptors inhabiting eastern Oregon’s mountains and open fields and inhabit deciduous habitats and shrub steppes.
1. Peregrine Falcon – 242 mph
The fastest animal in the world is the peregrine falcon, commonly called “the living missile.” These birds have a cruising speed of about 40 to 60 mph and a diving speed reaching 242 mph when hunting. The mystery of the falcon’s speed is answered by its unique features, which include stiff feathers, pointed wings, big keel bones, and a unique respiratory system. Their hearts beat 600 to 900 beats per minute, which allows them to flap their wings four times per second, contributing to their speed.
Peregrine falcons are highly migratory animals found globally except in Antarctica and New Zealand. According to the ODFW, these falcons have been tamed and used to catch hunting games for almost 4,000 years. Another amazing fact about the world’s fastest animal is that they also have the fastest visual processing speed, able to spot prey from over three kilometers.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Harry Collins Photography/Shutterstock.com
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