Malheur Musings
December 2022
A cold and clear morning at Malheur Refuge. 
Photo by Terry W. Smith 
A blanket of snow. A blanket by the fireplace. It is, among other things, a season for blankets of all kinds! A blanket is something that offers comfort and security which is not all that different than our community of Members!

In the mere week since GivingTuesday, our Members and non-member donors have set about weaving a blanket of support that offers security to our mission and comfort to the resources which depend on us. (Photo of varied thrush in the snow by Dan Streiffert)

We have raised $8,439.68 from 79 Donors!
3 of these Donors contributed $1,000 each
Tyler & Louise Parsons
Jennifer Murer
& Board Chair, Bill Tweed!

Jennifer says, "I donate money to Malheur because I feel it is important to support all the work you guys do educating the public about such a beautiful place. We need the wide open spaces to balance out our crazy hectic lives."

We are over halfway to our goal of $15,000 by January 1st, but if you can join Tyler, Louise, Jennifer, and Bill by making a donation today - we may reach unprecedented giving this season! How much we raise and subsequently accomplish for Malheur NWR in the coming year is up to YOU!

What can we do in the coming year?
Support The Trumpeter Swan Society tagging and tracking swans from Malheur?
Construct, with our partners, a Volunteer Camping area at Refuge HQ?
Continue funding tree conservation efforts to mitigate risks and enhance habitat?
Purchasing critical equipment for biological inventory and monitoring programs?
Funding a 2023 Refuge Biology Intern to support Aquatic Health projects?

When the Refuge comes to us for support, they are really coming to you. Will you make our ability to serve and support the Refuge even STRONGER in 2023 by making a donation today?
Thank you, as always, for being a Friend.

Janelle L Wicks
FOMR Executive Director

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us as I write this month, and those of us who care about Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have much to be thankful for. Despite the persistent dry conditions, Malheur continues to carry out its critical role as an irreplaceable refuge for migratory and resident wildlife. And you – the members of the Friends of Malheur – play a significant role in making this happen.

Over the past year, using funds that come directly from you, our little organization has done some very good things. These include:
· Providing funds to make Ibis tracking possible in Harney County
· Funding electronic data loggers to monitor drought conditions along the Blitzen River
· Supporting a biological intern position to work with refuge staff
· Stepping up to fund emergency hazard tree work at refuge headquarters
· Helping fund a study of trumpeter swans in Harney County

At the same time, we have funded nature-based youth events in Burns, kept our Crane’s Nest nature store open at refuge headquarters during a time when Covid closed many educational facilities, and activated a new and improved website. We even helped host a visit to Malheur by the governor of Oregon.

All of this – and a good deal more – happened in 2022 because of you and the generous support you provide.

I bring all of this to your attention because, like many non-profit organizations, FOMR relies upon end-of-the-year giving to help us carry out our important role. Last year’s campaign brought in more than $25,000, and this season, with your help, we hope to do even better.

So, here’s our pitch: As you step up to support worthy causes this December, please remember Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the friends group that supports it. We promise to make good use of whatever support you can send our way. Thank you!

Wm. Tweed, FOMR President
Conservation Corner
By Dennis Albert, OSU Sr Research Faculty

The shorelines and shallow waters of many of eastern Oregon’s shallow alkaline lakes contain a distinctive flora that has been incompletely explored. These plants appear as water levels in the lakes begins to drop in May, and many have flowered and begun to dry up by mid to late June. We had hoped to explore at Malheur Lake for some of these early plants, like playa phacelia (Phacelia inundata), Bach’s calicoflower (Downingia bacigalupii), and tansy leaf evening promrose (Taraxia tanacetifolia) that we had found at Hart in earlier surveys between 2012 and 2016 at the Warner Lakes and Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge. All these plants are adapted to the harsh conditions of the playa lakes. Long tap roots allow these plants to reach water deep in the soils as water levels rapidly drop in the early summer heat.

Since almost all these plants are annuals, they are able to grow rapidly and produce seeds before drying up and dying by late June or early July. And most playa plants are short in stature, hugging the ground rather than growing vertically in a landscape where strong winds can occur almost daily. Several playa plants, including Bach’s calicoflower, support endemic ground-nesting bees whose life cycles are linked to the annual flood and dry down cycles of the playa lakes. Read More
The Great Carp Round-up of 2022
By Central Oregon Dailey

There are some silver linings to drought conditions plaguing the High Desert.

Officials have been trying for decades to control and remove carp from Malheur Lake. This year, Mother Nature is serving them up on a platter.
The water is so shallow, carp are leaving the lake and concentrating in the Blitzen River where wildlife managers are scooping them out by the ton.

“We’ve been using a couple of different methods,” said Dominic Bachman, aquatic biologist for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. “What we are doing now is using hand wands in the river. What that does is stun the carp. As the carp are stunned, we net them up and then we move them to a loader and then to a dump truck from there.”

By Teresa Wicks, Portland Audubon

Northern goshawks are found across North America and throughout Eurasia. The word ‘goshawk’ comes from Old English and means “goose hawk,” a tribute to their bird-heavy diet. Humans and goshawks have worked together for approximately 2,000 years, when falconers began training them to capture meat for dinner.

Known as a forest-dwelling species, northern goshawks are widely-distributed but uncommon in coniferous forests in Oregon. Though most northern goshawks are not migratory, some birds are altitudinal migrants, moving down in elevation during the winter. In Burns and Hines, the abundance of California quail, tall shelter trees, and open spaces for hunting are an ideal place to spend the winter for a goshawk. Read More

As we look forward to a new year, many of you will be thinking about upcoming trips to Malheur NWR and all the marvelous creatures we may see. You may plan your trip around a particular species such as seeing the white geese in late winter or the arrival of wading birds in the spring. Maybe you are even more adventurous and look to that magical window in early June when an uncommon warbler or other rare oddity may arrive.

No matter your plans, the Friends of Malheur NWR aim to be your go-to resource for planning your visit! Our newly updated website ( has a lot of the same great seasonal sighting information in addition to a direct eBird link and more!

For even more content you can follow us on social media. Just follow @MalheurFriends on Facebook or Instagram and you will see posts about news, events, volunteer opportunities, and - of course - bird and wildlife sightings!
Refuge Reflections

sky: a way opens
big blue hole breaks from the gray
time becomes wider

by Suzanne Simons
If you want to contribute a poem, photo, or other creative rendering to be included here please email us,
Volunteer with Friends
Gratitude for Volunteers
If you have been following this newsletter for any amount of time you probably have a sense for how FOMR feels about our Volunteers. We recognize that is no small thing for someone to share their time and talents with an organization, particularly one so far flung from where most volunteers call home. It is a testament to what the organization, its mission and how it acts on behalf of that mission, means to the individual.

Furthermore, it is not simple lip service to say that FOMR could not do what it does without our passionate, knowledgeable, and simply put - AMAZING - volunteers. Over the last 11 months we had 23 volunteers plus 10 Board Members who accomplished an incredible amount of work, including:
  • Keeping the Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store open from March - October
  • Helped out at the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival
  • Assisted with carp removal
  • Power washed the Marshall Pond Observation Blind
  • Lead educational activities for Refuge field trips
  • Cleaned cases in the George Benson Memorial Museum
  • Performed trash collection along FOMR's adopted section of Hwy 205
  • Cleaned up debris around P Ranch
  • Prepared Sod House Ranch for its Open Season
  • Contributed to THIS newsletter and SO MUCH MORE!!!

It may be true the much volunteer work flies under the radar of most visitors but it certainly does not go unnoticed or unappreciated by The Friends of Malheur NWR. So, Thank you, to everyone who was an active part of our Team in 2022!

Photo above by Alan Nyiri, FWS Volunteer and gifted photographer.
November's Most Popular
Every month there is excellent content on the Friends Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Here we will feature the most popular post of the month.
November 21, 2022: A high desert version of Wiley Coyote and the roadrunner. In this case, the literal road runner is a ring-necked pheasant! Photo by Gary Kegel 
This post reached 26,850 people on Facebook!
For more great content you can follow the Friends of Malheur on
Facebook and Instagram at Malheurfriends!
Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store
Reopening March 1st, 2023
Featured Book of the Month:

As The Condor Soars
Conserving and Restoring Oregon's Birds

“As The Condor Soars: Conservation and Restoration of Oregon's Birds” is a new book from OSU Press that is a series of essays on the history of efforts to save Oregon’s threatened birds and the habitats they live in. Each essay is written by the 37 Oregon ornithologists who carried out a significant amount of work on the species, so it is a first-hand account of the research and management needed to recover these species.

The book was written to provide as a friendly but rigorous, peer-reviewed, science-based account of species recovery efforts. It is not advocacy based and we hope it will serve as a baseline reference for (e.g.) lawmakers, agencies, graduate students, high school classes and lovers of birds who just want the straight skinny on what efforts have been made to recover the Western Snowy Plover, what happened with Northern Spotted Owls, how soon will we see California Condors in the Willamette Valley again, etc.

To that end, the editors are donating 50+ books to lawmakers and appropriate agencies to be sure they have access to as unbiased scientific accounts of these conservation efforts as we can muster.

The text is easy to read with numerous maps, figures and over 50 biographies of noteworthy Oregon Ornithologists inset among the text, photos and art. The book is beautifully illustrated in full color by Oregon Coast Artist @Ram Papish and there are over 80 color photos from 17 of Oregon’s finest photographers.'

For more on this book you can visit its WEBSITE. We hope you pick up a copy on your next visit to the Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store.
Malheur HQ Visitor Center
See you next spring!
Membership Minute
The sustaining support of our members is more important than ever.
If you are unsure of your Membership status you can email us at today!
Not a Member or need to RENEW?
Simply visit OUR WEBSITE!

You can even set your Membership to Auto-renew with just the check of a box!

Prefer to send a check? Easy. Just fill out THIS FORM and mail it to us with your dues:

Friends of Malheur NWR
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721

Check out the new 2022 HOLOGRAPHIC Membership sticker! If you have not received your 2022 sticker - it will be on its way shortly!
Current Membership Total: 1006!
Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | 
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721