Malheur Musings
February 2022
Harney County, at 10,228 square miles, is Oregon’s largest county. It’s considerably larger than Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island combined. By population size, however, it ranks at fifth-lowest in the state, with around 7,500 residents. More than 60 percent of these live in the adjacent towns of Burns and Hines, meaning that much of the county is unincorporated, undeveloped, un-electrified shrub-steppe and juniper-ponderosa forest—ideal environs for superb stargazing. 

Photo of the night sky over the Blitzen River by Peter Pearsall
And so it begins, fields that have been empty or full of cattle are starting to see congregating geese. Not many, but some small flocks. Christmas Bird Counts are done and raptor surveys have wrapped up. Now we find ourselves preparing, as best we can, for migrants to arrive.

With the mild winter we have experienced in Harney County it is hard to predict who will arrive when and where. The best tool we have to share with potential visitors is still our SPRING ARRIVAL LIST which starts with February sightings. We also encourage folks to visit and explore the BAR CHART for Harney County.

It is important to the Friends that we make sure visitors to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are as informed as possible so that they may recreate responsibly and make the most of their time. Now is a great time to review the Refuge's RULES & REGULATIONS page as you may be planning your upcoming visit.
This spring is sure to be an exciting one and we hope to see you out here!

As always, Thank you for being a Friend.

Janelle L Wicks
FOMR Executive Director
Conservation Corner
By Peter Pearsall

We live in an era when natural darkness is increasingly rare, lost to the glow of artificial lighting in cities and other developed areas. This “light pollution” and concomitant loss of darkness has planet-wide ramifications: The ever-growing influence of our lighted spaces changes how animals sleep and reproduce, disrupts their nightly migration patterns, alters their feeding behaviors, and much else—to say nothing of how this lack of natural darkness affects humans’ physical, social, and psychological well-being. Read More
By Gary Ivey, Photo by Dan Streiffert

February is known to be the best month to see swans at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Large numbers of Tundra Swans are working their way north and can be found in open water areas of the refuge such as Benson Pond, Buena Vista, and Dredger Ponds. They are joined by smaller numbers of migrating Trumpeter Swans. Read More
Pictured Above: Small co-mingled flock of tundra and trumpeter swans
By Rick Vetter

A few weeks ago on a chilly January day, a friend of mine saw an eagle on that endless stretch of highway 20 between Bend and Burns, near Hampton. The sighting was notable because of its posture. When my spouse, Joan, and I were out there looking at common redpolls we found it, but we were not sure that it was the same eagle since it was up on the power line pole and in a bizarre position. Read More
Pictured Above: Subadult golden eagle perched on a powerline pole.
Species Spotlight
Northern saw-whet owl
One of the smallest owl species in North America, saw-whets weigh about as much as a tennis ball and prey on even smaller creatures, mainly rodents and small birds. They hunt almost exclusively at night, using their asymmetrical ears to pinpoint prey rustling in the leaf litter or settling down for a night’s rest.
Malheur & Me: A photo-video project
By Friends Member Bill Ray

This photo slideshow captures how excited I was with my first visit to the Malheur National Refuge last May (2021). Birds were the stars of the trip of course, but I also got an evening of real Milky Way stars, plus the scenery and a few mammals. Many of the bird photos were using my car as a blind on country roads and the Refuge central patrol road. The rest involved modest walking about, measured in fractions of miles.

A couple stops at the Headquarters on Sodhouse Lane provided invaluable input on exactly where the action was. Malheur Refuge is a big place -- plan on putting the miles on your car. For lodging you have a choice of motels in Burns (mine was the Horseshoe Inn) plus the hotel in Frenchglen. There is camping in the area too.
My camera gear was a Fuji X-T2 with Fuji’s 100-400mm lens for wildlife and a Rokinon 12mm for the wide-open landscapes and Milky Way. You are going to want a long lens, more than even the latest smartphones provide. However good bird photos can be had with a bridge camera such as the Nikon P950 or Sony RX10 III/IV. Tripod occasionally but mostly handheld. I post-process RAW files in Lightroom Classic with Topaz and Photoshop assisting. The slideshow was assembled in PTE AV Studio 10.

If you have questions about the trip, cameras or photo classes (including bird photography online 2/17) please email me at I’m happy to chat! :)

Thank you Bill for capturing the beauty of Malheur
and sharing this video with us!
Love Notes for Malheur NWR

Do you love Malheur?
We want to hear from YOU!

Email with your favorite memory or photograph(s) of Malheur NWR and tell us what YOU LOVE about the Refuge.

We will use these heartfelt reflections, anonymously if preferred, to spread the love throughout this month and beyond.
Throwback Festival 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!
Check out the new 2022 HOLOGRAPHIC Membership 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: 1035!
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.
January 6th: "Yesterday was #NationalBirdDay but we don’t usually make such distinctions—as far as we’re concerned, every day is Bird Day."
🎥 of birds at Malheur Refuge by Peter Pearsall/USFWS
#birds #wildliferefuge #highdesert #oregondesert #greatbasin #malheurnationalwildliferefuge #friendsofmalheur

This post on Facebook reach over 32,900 people! 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
HQ Store will re-open in March 2022

These mugs are made in the USA and have been out of stock since spring 2021 and we are THRILLED to have them back in stock.

Two styles, each in two colors:
Abby (left) in Sunset Orange or Sage
Camper (Right) in Cinnamon or Black

$24.00 Each
Malheur HQ Visitor Center
CLOSED Until Spring
Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | 
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721