Malheur Musings
December 2021
White-crowned sparrows are primarily winter residents of Harney County. Though they can occasionally be seen throughout eastern Oregon in the breeding season. They will be observed flitting around amidst shrubs while foraging on the ground for insects or at your own backyard feeder! Photo by Dan Streiffert
Season's Greetings to you and yours as we all settle in to our winter routines. The transition from autumn to winter is rather ritualistic. Like the wildlife we cherish, we may make our ways to places of comfort with plenty of food and warmth to hold us over. Or you've taken precautions to prepare for the elements; fat stores, extra layers, less activity or more depending on your predisposition. It's an interesting time of year for sure.

The goal? To prepare ourselves once more for the year ahead.

The Friends of Malheur NWR as a non-profit organization also follow this prescription that ebbs and flows with the seasons. Yes, visitation has slowed and the Nature Store at HQ is closed, but we are very busy preparing for the year ahead.

It's FriendsGiving Season! GOAL: $20,000!
This is our annual end of year fundraising in which we are collecting and preparing resources for success and productivity in the year to come.
FOMR's 2022 plans are plentiful and full details can be seen HERE! You can also hear directly from Board President Alan Contreras in his message below.

Our Conserve*Restore*Inspire Campaign kicked off on Giving Tuesday and we have already raised over $5,000 towards our goal! We hope you will consider a gift to Malheur this season.

As always, Thank you for being a Friend.

Janelle L Wicks
FOMR Executive Director
Conservation Corner
By Beth Boos, LSU Graduate Research Student

For the last eight months I have been studying emergent vegetation on Malheur Lake, and it has been an exciting and challenging road. It’s hard to believe how fast time has flown since I started my position back in January with LSU and the USGS Fish & Wildlife Cooperative Unit. We are only in year one of a two-year study, and it has been a constantly evolving journey to try and work towards restoring emergent vegetation on the lake.

I have been working with the refuge to research potential limitations to vegetation establishment and restoration options for emergent vegetation. We initially took an interest in seed bank viability and composition throughout the lake. Read More
By Teresa Wicks

Excerpt: "Over the past few decades, automated radio telemetry (ART) has become increasingly popular. With ART, stationary retrievers record radio signals emitted by wildlife fitted with radio transmitters. Data are collected by computers, which allows for more data to be collected than with traditional, handheld receivers.

While the move to ART has allowed for increased data collection, it brought about a different kind of problem, particularly for wildlife that move long distances, like many bird species. Automated radio telemetry requires that the radio transmitter fitted individual pass close (often less than 10 miles) to a tower. While many automated programs exist, collaborating on those programs isn’t always easy. That is, until the Motus Wildlife Tracking System (Motus) was created." Read More
By Peter Pearsall

Tara Wertz is the new Deputy Project Leader at Malheur Refuge. In her role she supervises Refuge operational programs including Budget and Administration, Visitor Services, Wildlife and Aquatic Biology (Wildlife Inventory and Monitoring, Habitat Management), and Facility and Infrastructure Maintenance. 

Wertz was born and raised in Central Indiana, in a small farming community. Her family often took vacations out West, where they toured National Parks and Monuments and introduced Wertz to the world of land and resource management. Wertz knew from an early age that this was the career path for her. Read More
Message from the President
Alan Contreras, FOMR Board President
First, thank you. Friends membership rolls have surpassed 1,000 and that lets us better serve the needs of the refuge and its visitors. Speaking of numbers, sales of Edge of Awe, the essay collection from OSU Press about the refuge and Steens, have passed 1,000, too, and all royalties go to Friends of Malheur. The book can be ordered online from the Crane’s Nest store: a twofer to help the birds and wildlife that mean so much to all of us.
What’s coming in 2022? That depends partly on you. The board recently approved paying for transmitters to track White-faced Ibis that use the refuge. How many? They cost $1,000 each (there’s that number again) so the How Many eventually depends on How Much we have available. Right now we have committed to three (with the refuge budget and another entity also buying a few).
We’re also committed to covering the cost of a summer intern who will be continuing work on water quality and fish-related issues. Water is everything at Malheur—for those who have not been there lately, Marshall Pond at HQ has gone dry. Will it fill again? We don’t know. We do know that the refuge has been able to retain enough water upstream to keep many of the ponds functioning as the crucial ecosystems they have been for so long. Is this sustainable? As I write, snowpack in the Harney County drainages is 48% of the norm—at least the old norm. Friends of Malheur is committed to help the refuge adapt to change.
The board is committed to a longer-term project that will manage the refuge’s few stands of trees in an organized way. Some of the ancient cottonwoods are falling to pieces—a limb five inches in diameter narrowly missed me a couple of years ago. The refuge needs to trim these for safety reasons. Some trees are suffering weather damage. As we work with professional arborists on this project, we are also looking for opportunities to plant native trees in appropriate places—we want the visitors of 2121 to find birds in the groves and enjoy their shade just as we have. Other projects are part of our ongoing operation—see the list HERE. Discussions are happening about ways to make visiting the refuge even more enjoyable and accessible. 
Our first priority, as always, is the wildlife. So yes, you can donate $1,000 to advance this broad but carefully managed agenda (last year some did). We also accept $5 or whatever you feel comfortable sending during this season of support.
Have a great winter. See you at Malheur in the spring.

By Suzan Wells, October 2021 Volunteer
Photo of CA Quail with sun setting in the background

Excerpt: "People came from many different states traveling through the area. Talking with them and sharing suggestions for touring was extremely rewarding. Working in the store was a good experience that required all sorts of skills. I was quite impressed with myself. I learned and was exposed to many new computer programs and was asked to do some projects which I managed quite easily. I thought it was great to have the challenges and complete projects that had caused me to use new skills or utilize new and unfamiliar programs. This old lady still has skills! 

On my days off I found myself entertained by nature. Wildlife, plants, geology and especially birding kept me very busy. There were badgers digging up the grounds around the Refuge Headquarters. They were making a mess of the place. I really (really) wanted to see a badger. I was permitted to put up a trail cam. After one cold morning when I had come upon a fresh badger hole (with steam coming out!) I decided to point the camera toward that hole. What fun!" Read More
Spread the word,
Friends are Hiring!

The newly developed Crane's Nest Manager position will be a full-time, permanent job based out of the Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store at Refuge Headquarters. This role will work closely with FOMR's Executive Director while leading management of the Crane's Nest retail operation and associated volunteer coordination. The ideal candidate will be a creative self starter with experience in retail, customer service, and staff or volunteer management. More information is available on our website HERE or by clicking the link below.
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, 
2022 Planning is underway!

With Covid-19 still a deep concern, our event will continue being different than “normal”. We plan to offer several online presentations and workshops (like 2021), some go-at-your-own-pace IN PERSON activities (no van tours, or crowded indoor spaces) and even a few group opportunities – in the great outdoors, of course. Special opportunities for those who have purchased an annual membership (2020 or 2021) and have yet to be able to utilize it are also in the works.
Visit or follow @migratorybirdfestival on social media for updates and information over the next few months. We’re looking forward to your participation!

Thank you for supporting the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival and our community! 
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!
2022 is right around the corner and we are gearing up for Membership Appreciation. Check out the new 2022 Member HOLOGRAPHIC sticker!

Not a Member? 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 out THIS FORM and mail it to us with your dues at:
Friends of Malheur NWR
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721
Current Membership Total: 1051!
Welcome to the 393 NEW Members who have joined us since Jan 1, 2021
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.
"This is the sense of the desert hills—that there is room enough and time enough...The treeless spaces uncramp the soul."
-Mary Hunter Austin, "Land of Little Rain" (1903) 

Photo of rainbow over Malheur Refuge by Kay Steele 

Follow both of our pages, @Malheurfriends, to see more great content like this!
Volunteer with Friends
Now Recruiting for 2022!

Needed: Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store Volunteers are needed for July-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, occasional light grounds keeping, etc.

Have your own Home on Wheels? Great!
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 facilities.
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
The Crane's Nest Online Store is OPEN and adding special items
for the holidays.
Too early to trim the tree? Who says! Grab one of these limited handcrafted ornaments before they are all gone!

Linda Whiting is a local multi-media artist who has been selling her wares in the Crane's Nest Nature Store since we reopened in April 2021. It is easy to see why her hand painted and beaded ornaments are a top seller! They are crafted with exquisite detail and quality that is unique to each bird.

Looking for a one of a kind gift for someone special? Check out her wall-hanging tapestries. These quilted marvels are statement pieces that bring a piece of Malheur NWR right into your home! Only three available, so act fast! CLICK HERE
Malheur HQ Visitor Center
CLOSED Until Spring
Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | 
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721