Malheur Musings
February 2023
The homestead-era stand of cottonwood trees at Sod House Ranch are a bustling Bald Eagle roost this time of year. Every morning as the sun rises, so do the eagles. They will fly out and spend the day in search of food before returning to their roost in the evening. If we are lucky, a pair will stick around to nest and raise their eaglets overlooking this historic site.
Photo by Alan Nyiri, MNWR Volunteer
It's Black History Month. It's the month of Love. It's apparently also American Heart Health Awareness Month and Humpback Whale Awareness Month. Maybe you will engage in honoring one or more of these of these, and I hope you do, but the February Holiday I am most looking forward to is REGISTRATION DAY for the 2023 Harney County Migratory Bird Festival!

The festival, once named for former Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Manager John Scharff has been an annual event bringing Birders to for over 40 years! It was cancelled for the first time in 2020 owing to Covid-19. In 2021 we offered a virtual festival and last year we were able to do a hybrid festival with some in-person and some virtual programs. This year we are 100% back to In-Person programming!

To honor various comfort levels and in an attempt to attract new, more diverse participants the festival will offer a variety of tours and events. Folks can join traditional van tours or sign up for the self-directed Bird Crawl, drive along with a caravan tour, jump on a birding by bike program, or join a hike. And with registration opening on Valentine's Day, we think there's something for Everyone to Love! Check out the schedule by visiting the Festival's Website.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the reasoning for why this month's newsletter is arriving so late in the month. On this past Monday evening I had the honor of presenting as the guest lecturer for the High Desert Museum's monthly Science Pub at St Francis School McMenamin's in Bend, OR. Refuge Trees: Homestead Era Oases at Malheur NWR. I am grateful to the High Desert Museum for the opportunity and to everyone who attended for caring so deeply about Malheur NWR and the wildlife who thrive there. So, I hope you will accept my apologies for the tardy newsletter this month and perhaps look forward to a chance to see this presentation in the future.

Thank you, as always, for being a Friend.

Janelle L Wicks
FOMR Executive Director
Wm. Tweed, FOMR President

Much goes into sustaining Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Obviously, the refuge’s effectiveness requires adequate water. Equally important as is a system of adjoining refuges that allows migratory birds to move north and south along the Pacific Flyway. And there is another critical resource that cannot be ignored – Federal money.

To emphasize what nearly all of you already know, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a federal agency housed within the United States Department of the Interior. To put it simply, the hard-working people who protect and manage the refuge are paid with funds appropriated by our Congress. READ MORE
Conservation Corner
By Peter Pearsall
In October 2022, members from the Burns Paiute Tribe participated in the first-ever ceremonial mule deer hunt at Malheur Refuge, in the Buena Vista area.

“We were allowed to hunt again on some of our homeland,” said Leland Dick, one of the Burns Paiute members that participated in the ceremonial hunt. “For me and my family, it’s enormously significant. We were talking to some of the elders in the Tribe, and they confirmed that this was the first time we have hunted those lands since it became a Refuge in 1908.” Read More
By Janelle Wicks/ Photos by USFWS

Are you familiar with Puddles, the Blue Goose? Do you know the flying goose and jumping fish shield? What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see someone in a brown uniform? More likely than not your answers to the first to are, 'Meh...' and that last one... UPS?

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is grappling with an image or publicity problem. It seems that the arrowhead emblem of the National Park Service and the traditional green Forest Service uniforms are more ubiquitous in our collective cultural consciousness. Why is it less common for young children to think, 'I want to be a Ranger for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and work on a National Wildlife Refuge' than it is for that child to fantasize about being a National Park Ranger. Read More
Our friends at the High Desert Partnership are known for seeing a need and working to fill it! Our community is a hot bed of opportunities for young natural resource professional and it's time we worked together to get the word out! This new job board is a tool for the many conservation organizations looking to recruit talented staff AND for individuals who are looking for unique opportunities to learn and grow in their field. Current job openings include positions with Portland Audubon, High Desert Partnership, The Nature Conservancy, OR Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and more. We hope it becomes a resource for regional college and university students and beyond! Read More
Species Spotlight
By Janelle Wicks/ Photo by Rick Vetter

The long-eared owl, Asio otus, is an uncommon sighting on Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, despite having a known history of nesting there. These birds are typically seen at the south end of the Refuge and usually observed by birders during the annual P Ranch Christmas Bird Count.

Long-eared owls are masters of camouflage with their streaky plumage and lanky bodies which seem to melt right into their surroundings. These nocturnal hunters are adapted to fly silently as is typical of owls. They will hunt for small mammals such as kangaroo rats, mice, voles, young rabbits, and similar critters. Read More
April 13th - 16th | Registration opens THIS Tuesday Feb 14th
Order your SWAG and come to the 2023 Festival in style! SHOP HERE
Programs will feature some of FOMR's own Friends such as a Book reading and signing with Alan Contreras featuring the new title, A History of Oregon Ornithology, and Birding Harney County with Dan Streiffert!
FOMR Member's Weekend!
June 9th - 11th | Program Details to Come
A weekend to celebrate Malheur NWR and our Friends Members
We will be looking for volunteers to serve as Hotspot Hosts during Saturday, June 10th's Migrate Malheur event. During this event, Hotspot Hosts will greet visitors and tell them all about cultural and natural history of the popular Refuge site they are assigned. Of course, you will also encourage people to bird the site and share what they see!
The weekend will also include a Member's Mixer and Banquet - Details Coming Soon!

Malheur After Dark
July 18th | FREE | Registration Coming Soon
Come celebrate dark skies and all things nocturnal at Malheur NWR Headquarters. This program will take visitors behind the gates to the Blitzen River boat launch. There, we'll take an evening bird walk, look for bats and badgers, and enjoy a star viewing experience with the Oregon Observatory. ADA compliant bathrooms are available at headquarters. Parking will be available at the boat launch.
Refuge Reflections

iridescent blue
bird poses on a branch no
such color exists

by Suzanne Simons
If you want to contribute a poem, photo, or other creative rendering to be included here please email us,
January'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.
December 18, 2023: Short-eared owls and Northern harriers share a preference for grasslands, prairies, and other open habitats to hunt voles, mice, and other small prey. While both may share this preference, they aren’t often keen on sharing the actual, physical space, as they are direct competitors for prey. Here, a short-eared owl escorts a harrier from its hunting area. 
Photo by

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Facebook and Instagram at Malheurfriends!
Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store
HQ Store Opening March 3rd!
7 Days/Week 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Malheur HQ Visitor Center
Opening MARCH 3rd!
Fridays - Sunday 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

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!
Current Membership Total: 1002!
Not a Member or need to RENEW?
Simply visit OUR WEBSITE!

Prefer to send a check? Easy.
Fill out THIS FORM and mail it with your dues to:
Friends of Malheur NWR
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721

Photo of the night sky over Marshall Pond by Peter Pearsall
Introducing the Sandhill Crane Society
Beginning this year, Friends of Malheur are welcoming the 17 inaugural members of the Sandhill Crane Society. Any supporter who contributes $1,000 or more through Membership dues and/or donations throughout the year will become a Member of this new program. Our depth of our gratitude for those individuals who support our mission at this level of ongoing support cannot be expressed, but we sure will try!

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!

Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721