Malheur Musings
October 2021
Please accept my apologies for this repeat send. I try very hard not to fill your mailbox, but I believe that I would be doing you a great disservice if you did not receive the correct link for this month's Malheur & Me article. Enjoy. - Janelle
Recently birders at Malheur Refuge have delighted in seeing a lesser nighthawk, a more southerly relative of the common nighthawk. These two closely related species normally don’t have much range overlap in North America and are difficult to tell apart. In flight, the common nighthawk shows a white band across the wing that falls roughly halfway between the 'wrist' and the tip of the wing; on the lesser nighthawk, the band is placed closer to the wing tip, about a third the length between the wing tip and the 'wrist’.  Photo of lesser nighthawk by Peter Pearsall/USFWS
Yesterday I left work wondering if we would be closing the Crane's Nest Nature Cetner & Store today (Friday) or if I would be coming out to Refuge Headquarters to pack up necessary materials for a transition back to a home office. Crisis averted, no government shutdown, for now.

This morning I arrive to the news from Refuge and Friends volunteers that there had been a small unexpected feline guest at the volunteer RV park last night. They were kind enough to catch it and bring it in for the night. We can't have domestic cats calling the Refuge home. Now, as I sit here writing to all of you I have this stray kitten curled up in my lap in the hopes of finding her a more suitable home.

My reflection this morning is that you just never know what the day will bring. In the best of times, you have the resources and capacity to prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and remain flexible to whatever comes your way.

It is in this spirit that non-profit organizations like ours engage in strategic planning. We began this process ourselves in spring of 2021 and I am proud that we are creating and using tools designed to create stronger organizational structure and direction, but also to build in adaptibility as the Refuge and it's needs evolve.

As our Friends and Followers, your support is critical to our ability to do this work and plan for the future of our organization and of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

You just never know when a metaphorical kitten will show up!
As always, Thank you for being a Friend.

Janelle L Wicks
FOMR Executive Director
Conservation Corner
By Peter Pearsall, USFWS

The historic Sodhouse Ranch cellar at Malheur Refuge has undergone its first phase of restoration. The intent is to maintain the historic building in its original state, using era-appropriate materials to keep the overall appearance of the structure intact.

The contract was awarded to Abstract Masonry Restoration in Salt Lake City. For three weeks, a crew worked to replace the southeast and northeast corners of the cellar, which had bulged outward and fallen over. To repair the corners, the crew meticulously deconstructed the walls of the cellar, using chalk to number each limestone brick so that they could be replaced in the proper order. Read More

NOTE: The Friends were honored to have the opportunity to write a letter of support for the grant which funded this work. Supporting the preservation of cultural resources at Malheur NWR is an important component of our mission.
By Peter Pearsall, USFWS
Photos by Erika Fitzpatrick, Mesa Communications

Feature Image: Malheur Project Leader Jeff Mackay addresses event attendees to share water issues at Malheur NWR with a dry Marshall Pond in the background.
On June 26 the Oregon Legislature passed a landmark $530 million “Water Package” that includes funding for drinking water, wastewater, and groundwater infrastructure projects across the state, including Harney County. On August 27, the Willamette Partnership and State Representative Mark Owens hosted an in-person “Water Celebration” in Harney County, taking guests on a tour to see groundwater management in action at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and on Rep. Owens’ farm. The event drew more than 50 people and served as an Eastern Oregon component of an earlier, virtual celebration hosted by the Willamette Partnership. Read More
By Rebecca Pickle

A fish that is a tubular, silvery, flash in the river “torpedo” is known as the mountain whitefish (Prosopium williamsoni). The mountain whitefish calls Malheur National Wildlife Refuge home here in Harney County, Oregon. They are also found in many other states including Utah, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Most mountain whitefish on the refuge hangout in the waters of the Blitzen River where the snowmelt from the Steens Mountain Range keep the water cool and crystal clear. Read More
By Carey Goss, Malheur NWR
Photo of Mule Deer with black-billed magpie by Dan Streiffert

Continuing the Department of the Interior’s efforts to increase recreational access on public lands, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced new or expanded hunting and sport fishing opportunities for game species across 2.1 million acres at 90 National Wildlife Refuges and on the lands of one National Fish Hatchery.
“We are committed to ensuring Americans of all backgrounds have access to hunting and fishing and other recreational activities on our public lands,” said Service Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams. Read More
A Unique Scholarship
Through Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The Francis M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat provides financial aid to students studying areas in the United States that provide winter or summer habitat for our threatened or endangered native birds. Typically, the Scholarship awards $4,500 annually to one scholar. In special instances, because of two unusually qualified candidates or two candidates working on one project, the award may be divided between two candidates. College seniors or graduate students enrolled in a US-based institution are eligible to apply. The award is given by the Garden Club of America and is administered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Applications must be submitted by January 15 preceding the proposed period of study. For more information, see the proposal guidelines.

Friends of Malheur NWR want to encourage folks to apply! If you or someone you know applies, please let us know by sending us a confirmation of the application and we will Gift them a Friends Membership for 2022.
Email confirmation to Kathy Bowman, 
Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is excited to offer an online birding course, Common Winter Birds of Oregon, taught by Dr. Thomas Bancroft. This is the perfect course to get you ready to go out birding this winter with a particular emphasis on species of Eastern Oregon.

Birding can be great fun but frustrating until you become familiar with the local birds and learn the skills that expert birders use. This course will kick-start your abilities. We will cover the best techniques to separate and narrow identification. Both beginner and intermediate birders will learn a lot and get a lot of practice. There will be self-assessment quizzes. Key characteristics including shape, size, color patterns, behaviors, habitat, and sounds will be reviewed. We will cover about 120 common species found in Oregon during the winter, their identification, where they live, and a little on their songs and calls.

When: 5 Consecutive Tuesdays beginning November 2nd, skipping November 23rd
7:00 - 8:30 PM Pacific
Where: Zoom with access to materials through Google Classroom
Cost: $100 for Members*, $125 for Non-Members
*You must sign into your Friends Account on our website in order to have your Membership recognized and receive the discount.

Questions? Email Janelle,
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!
Lapsed Members: There are a total of 243 Members who signed up or renewed in 2020, but have lapsed in 2021. If you are one of these Members, never fear, there is an easy way to renew today!
Simply visit OUR WEBSITE, close the pop-up window and fill out the online form.

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

Prefer to send a check? Easy. Just fill our THIS FORM and mail it to us with your dues at:
Friends of Malheur NWR
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721
Current Membership Total: 1031!
Welcome to the 361 NEW Members who have joined us since Jan 1, 2021
Written by Glenda Sutherland
Photos by Don Sutherland
FOMR Friends and September 2021 Volunteers
The full Harvest Moon rose bright orange over the southeastern Oregon desert just after the last pink glow of the setting sun disappeared. Don and I stood outside our little camper and watched the moon sail slowly higher into the black night sky, listening to the evening chorus of the coyotes float across the sagebrush. The pair of Great Horned Owls, who live in the trees surrounding the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, called comfortably back and forth to each other like an old married couple discussing their day.
As the breeze turned chilly we followed their example, returning to our trailer for supper and sharing stories of the birds and people each of us had met during another day of volunteering with the Friends of Malheur. READ & SEE MORE

Photos: Above - Moon rising behind Refuge HQ Observation tower. Below - (2) Leucistic white-crowned sparrow. (3) Rare (to Harney County) Canada warbler. (4) Moonrise behind sagebrush covered hillside.
Thank you, Glenda and Don, for sharing your experience and photography with us.
Also, thank you for contributing your time and energies to making the Friends of Malheur NWR successful in its mission to promote the conservation and appreciation of Malheur NWR. Our Friends Volunteers mean the world to us.

Would YOU like to share your story, a memory, or some photographs
of Malheur with us? Please email
August'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.
Avocet (9/23): Did you know that a flock of avocets is sometimes known as an “orchestra”? We think that collective noun is especially apt for these graceful shorebirds. Photo by Peter Pearsall/USFWS

This post reached 13,010 people through Facebook.
On our Instagram, this same post had 135 people liked it.
Follow both of our pages, @Malheurfriends, to see more great content like this!
Volunteer with Friends
THIS MONTH: Restoration Work for the Burns Paiute Tribe

October 19th-20th: Sagebrush Restoration
Come get your hands dirty while helping the Burns Paiute Tribe's Natural Resources Department with a post fire sagebrush steppe planting project. We'll start our work days, the 19th and 20th, at 8:00 and work until 17:00. Camping is available on the Tribe's property east of Juntura. Directions will be provided to participants after they sign-up. Sign-up here!

October 21st-22nd: Oregon Semaphore Grass Planting
Come help with research and restoration of Oregon's rarest grass, Oregon semaphore grass. This will be Portland Audubon's third year of helping with this project. October 21st, we'll help the BPT Natural Resources staff with prepping plants for transplanting. October 22nd, we'll spend the day under the gaze of the Strawberry Mountains, planting semaphore tillers in the meadows of the Logan Valley. Camping may be available in the Logan Valley, or closer to town (TBD). Directions will be provided to participants once they sign-up. Sign-up here!

Participants must be able to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Masks will be required when participants can't be more than 6' apart. 

Interested? Learn More on Facebook @RestoreMalheur
or Email Teresa Wicks,
Now Recruiting for 2022!

Needed: Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store Volunteers are needed for April-October 2022! Individuals must be comfortable interacting with the visiting public and carrying out day-day store operations tasks such as running a point of sale system, counting and stocking inventory. Volunteers also help to maintain the ground surrounding the Nature Center including filling and cleaning bird feeders, occassional light groundskeeping, etc.

No RV? No Problem! Sign up early to claim a month long stay in the Friends of Malheur NWR's RV at Refuge Haedquarters!
FOMR trailer is booking up fast, ONLY JULY and OCTOBER are available.

Have your own Home on Wheels? Volunteers with an RV/Camper would have full hook-ups at the volunteer RV park.

All volunteers have access to bathrooms with showers, a fully stocked kitchen, a community room with DirectTV, WiFi, and laundry facilies.
Celebratory Success at Barnes Springs

To  celebrate Public Lands Day, 14 stalwart volunteers met for a 3 day work party, which because they were so incredible, was finished in 2.  

The Barnes Spring Homestead area with its warm spring and old orchard is a prime birding location. Unfortunately, it was full of old barbed wire, some on leaning posts, some in coils and snarly piles, buried under grass or grown over with old growth sage and juniper. This debris has been creating serious problems for wildlife and human visitors but was no match for our crew! Without a whimper, this team filled a large flatbed trailer with barbed wire and old lumber left over from an attempt to roof a small sod building. In the evening, they enjoyed camping out under an almost full moon listening to the sounds of owls and coyotes.

On your next visit there, give a little shout-out to these wonderful volunteers, and remember, you could be one!

PHOTO: Alice Elshoff, FOMR Board Member and Stewardship Project Leader with volunteers Karen Tillou and Jon Brown securing the load!
All Volunteer opportunities continue to be contingent upon and will be subject to any local, state, or federal health and safety guidelines. Volunteering may be cancelled at any point.
If you wish to be considered for a volunteer position please email Janelle,
Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store
CLOSING SOON - Last Day is October 31st
Until then we are still open 7 days/wk 8:00am-4:00pm
Cooler weather is a great time to pick up a new book and we can hardly keep this one in stock! Grab yours today!

The subtitle of this book is, "How Harney County Defeated the Takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge." In 2016, Ammon Bundy and a group of followers occupied Malheur Refuge Headquarters in an attempt to turn federal land over to local ranchers and the county. After federal control was reestablished, Peter Walker, a journalist from Eugene, OR, lived in Burns and extensively researched the events of the occupation, the philosophy that Mr. Bundy espoused, and the response by the citizens of the area. 272 pages, published by OSU Press, 10/7/2018. 
Malheur HQ Visitor Center
Open Friday - Sunday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Subject to change based on staff and volunteer availability
Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | 
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721