Malheur Musings
July 2021
The superlative pronghorn, fastest land mammal in North America, is a year-round resident of Malheur’s high desert, feeding on sagebrush in fall and winter and tender forbs in spring and summer. If you happen to see one in a field this time of year you may be rewarded with a glimpse of a fawn or two!
Photo by Dan Streiffert
In the high desert ecoregion of Oregon we are no strangers to extreme or unpredictable weather. We have known for a while that this was going to be a dry hot summer while the entire western US was slated to experience prolonged drought conditions. We knew that fire season would likely come early and stick around a while. Still, I don't think that anyone quite understood that the summer heat would come on so quickly and with such vengance.

Of course we humans are not the only creatures experiencing this heat, but we are the only ones with home air conditioning units or fans we can control. Wildlife are finding other ways to stay cool and survive the 'scorching sun' (a description I have never before seen on my weather App). This means finding and utilizing water, shade, burrows in addition to various species physiological and behavioral cooling techniques.

Today I watched a pair of California quail come out from the protective shade the surrounds the Nature Center with 9 very young chicks following. The male perched above the brood on the fence post while the female used her wings to make a sort of cup nest in some freshly excavated dirt adjacent to a badger hole. She flapped and shifted her wings while wiggling her body for a few minutes while the young all toddled around. When she finally stood and walked away the young came, one by one, and gathered in this cup she had created in the cool soft dirt.

Friends of Malheur NWR's Habitat Enhancement Funds are directed to (among other projects) purchasing, planting, and maintaing trees and shrubs around the Crane's Nest Nature Center and Marshall Pond Observation Trail.
We may or may not find a bed of cool dirt or the mud along the Blitzen River enticing, but staying vigilent to our own hydration and energy levels during these extended high temperatures is crucial. Please stay hydrated and be sure to travel with extra water for you and any non-human companion that you may have.

As always, Thank you for being a Friend.

Janelle L Wicks
FOMR Executive Director
Conservation Corner
By Beth Boos
I spent my first several months working on Malheur Lake virtually from two thousand miles away. Designing a research project without seeing your study area in person is quite a challenge. Despite refuge staff describing it to me as best as possible, I experienced some shock as I went out on the lake for the first time in late March. Gliding around on an airboat in 1-2 inches of water is not something I’d ever done before, and when the deepest part of a lake only goes up to your knees, it’s initially a little concerning. I had to do some rethinking for the logistics of my project almost immediately after arriving at the refuge.
By Matt Stuber, USFWS Raptor Biologist, Division of Migratory Birds

Across many western states, biologists are embarking on a challenging adventure. That adventure? To learn more about short-eared owls. I am proud to have brought a part of that adventure to one of the great Oregon public spaces - Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).

Short-eared owls are an open-country species that has been shown to associate with diverse habitats, including tundra, marshlands, grasslands, shrublands, and even agricultural lands. They seem to be flexible in the type of habitats they select in any given year, and probably select habitat based on prey availability. Read More
By Brent Lawrence, USFWS Public Affairs

The new bridge at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is more than a road across the creek. It’s also a bridge to the future of sustainable building.

The 16-foot thermoplastic structure carries vehicle and foot traffic across Bridge Creek on East Canal Road. The span is made from 100% post-consumer and industrial recycled plastic. The bridge weighs in at just over 19,000 pounds, and was made from the equivalent of 866,542 plastic water bottles. Read More
By Alexa Martinez, MNWR Wildlife Biologist
Photo Janelle Wicks

In the state of Oregon, there are fifteen species of snakes, but out of all the native snakes, the Western rattlesnake has poisonous venom that is dangerous to humans. (ODFW)

Western rattlesnakes can be found near rocks, cliffs or downed logs. But can also occur in wide variety of habitat types, from deserts and chaparral to open forests across Oregon. Read More
We strive to offer informative and thought provoking content that will deepen your connection to Malheur NWR. We hope that these articles and updates keep you coming back for more while inspiring you to be a steward of the Refuge.

We want to know what interests you. Share you ideas for future Malheur Musings newsletter articles.

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With both a personal and professional connection to Harney County and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Matt would enjoy helping the Friends of Malheur identify and plan resource improvements and threat abatement that increase bird habitat and benefit how people visit and use the Refuge. Matt understands the social, economic, and ecological challenges facing southeast Oregon, and would be excited to help the Refuge better achieve its goals. 

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!

Over 400 people took the survey and 3/4 of the respondents are current Friends Members. Your insights and suggestions are a huge asset to our organization as we move through this planning process and look to our future.
Current Membership Total: 996!
Welcome to the 313 NEW Members who have joined us since Jan 1, 2021

Will YOU be our 1,000th Member?
Join or Renew TODAY at a chance to win an I <3 Malheur Prize Pack if you happen to be the Member
to make this milestone!
By Linda Craig/ Photos by Dan Streiffert
I’d found an environment I loved. After that first year, I returned almost annually, usually staying at the Field Station. Birding at the Refuge Headquarters and along Center Patrol Road was always a highlight, and I hoped that some time I’d be able to spend more time here…to commit an entire summer to Malheur.

My chance came this year. Portland Audubon’s volunteer coordinator posted a notice that Friends of Malheur Refuge needed volunteers for the summer. Due to Covid and some changes in family obligations, my Portland commitments were minimal or virtual. I talked with Janelle, and she found me a place to stay. I asked her when she needed me, and she said, “Now!” I packed my bags.

Every one of us has the power to stay informed, make comments of open proposals, call our representatives, and spread the word about protecting wild spaces and the wildlife that depend on them. Here are current critical action items:
Earlier this year the US House of Representatives recieved and reviewed testimony submitted on behalf of the National Wildlife Refuge System Operations and Maintenance Fund. Many Friends Groups from across the country, including Friends of Malheur NWR, submitted testimony to assert the need to increase the FWS budget.

In June, it became the Senate’s turn to receive and review public testimony. Submissions were due Friday, June 25, 2021 by 5pm ET. The call put forward by our Friends at the National Wildlife Refuge Association was to ask for $600 million in appropriations for National Wildlife Refuge System Operations and Maintenance.

From NWRA: "The very best news that’s come out of this appropriations cycle is that the President’s Budget Request included an $81 million increase, from $503 million to $584 million! The Administration has shown its support for refuges, and now we, as advocates for the Refuge System and for our local refuges, need to weigh in."
June'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.
Black-necked Stilts (6/15): The male and female black-necked stilt look nearly identical, but sometimes females (and immatures) will show a brownish--rather than dark black--back, as illustrated perfectly in this photo by Dan Streiffert 

This post reached 2,725 people through Facebook and 79 people liked it on Instagram. Follow our pages, @Malheurfriends, to see more great content like this!
Volunteer with Friends
By Debby DeCarlo
Photos by Dan Streiffert

Volunteering at the Refuge is always a treat. I see plenty during the last two weeks of May and first week of June. But after that, the migratory visitors, both avian and human, diminish. I convince new visitors there is still plenty to see. And with nothing else to compare their experience to, first-timers are already impressed. "There are so many Yellow-headed Blackbirds," they exclaim. One person noted she'd seen the Great-horned Owl. Another asked, "Are those American White Pelicans out there?" They are indeed, I tell her.  Read More

Note from Janelle: As you will have read from this and past articles by Debby, she is a repeat volunteer who has given much of herself and her time to Malheur NWR over the years. Every volunteer is an indispensable asset to a non-profit organization with a staff of 1 but our volunteers, Debby among them, become something more. Debby will leave this month and move on to other adventures, but I am comforted by the knowledge that we are forever Friends and I know she'll be back!

Are you Ready to Volunteer?
These opportunities REQUIRE volunteers be fully self-contained in a personal RV or Trailer that can be parked at Refuge HQ. There is limited access to the Volunteer Community Room, Kitchen, and Bathrooms.

Needed: Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store Volunteers are needed for July, August, and October! Individuals must be vaccinated and/or willing to quarantine for up to 5 days upon arrival before volunteering can begin. Must be comfortable managing limited entry of the Store and enforcing Covid-19 safety procedures with all visitors.
Needed: Boundary Fence Mapping Volunteer(s) will be trained to assess and report Refuge boundary fence conditions. Individuals or couples who share a household will be considered. Training will take place in June and work will be allowed to begin by August 1st. Volunteers MUST have a fully self contained RV or Trailer or be able to secure nearby lodging.

All Volunteer opportunities are 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
Open Daily 8:00am-4:00pm
Subject to change based on staff and volunteer availability
All colors of Classic Malheur NWR
and Friends of Malheur NWR Hats are back in stock!

Malheur HQ Visitor Center
Outdoor Service Only 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