February's Malheur Musings

DYK: Northern flickers are often flushed from the ground because their main source of food is ants?! This large brown woodpecker species can be found year-round at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

We are thankful to our newest contributing Photographer, Lane Wintermute for this image.

Greetings Janelle,

As one could imagine there are innumerable joys to be found in my work. Every month, as you can gather from this newsletter, there is a veritable cornucopia of things going on to keep me busy and fully enamored with Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

This month, February, is all about preparing for spring. Our Nature Store Manager, Jill, and I will be prepping the Crane's Nest at Refuge Headquarters. We are confirming volunteers and looking forward to welcoming the first of them to arrive in March and April.

April?!? How is it that April is nearly here?!? The 2024 Harney County Migratory Bird Festival is APRIL 11th - 14th and Registration is ALMOST OPEN! See the article below for more details about this year's tours and activities. This darling male ruddy duck pictured above to the left is the product of local Hines Artist, Mary Lou Wilhelm's. The 2024 Bird of the Year is a ruddy duck and Mary Lou painted this fella just for us! He will be raffled at the Saturday Swoop Event during the festival. We hope you will join us for all the fun!

* 2024 Harney County Migratory Bird Festival * Reg opens February 14th

In the meantime, while I plan and plot for upcoming programs other things are underway! The 2024 seasonal Biology Technician position is now open for applicants. Our 2024 Artist in Residence, Janet, is making her plans to work in our schools this March. The Celebrating Malheur Speaker Series is on to its second installment THIS THURSDAY with Carla Burnside presenting on the Pre-History and History of Malheur NWR. Information about all of this and more can be found in this month's issue. Please enjoy!

In Service to and Celebration of Malheur,

Janelle Wicks

Executive Director

President's Note - February

Written by Wm. Tweed

“Transparency” may seem like a minor concern for a nature-focused non-profit organization, but it’s something that the Friends of Malheur takes seriously. As an organization that raises money from concerned folks like you, we believe that we have a responsibility to be open and forthcoming about everything we do. We pursue this goal by cooperating with a national organization called Candid.

Those of you who have been involved for some time in non-profit organizations may recall an organization known as Guidestar. Its purpose was to curate a centralized data center where one could discover basic information about non-profit – things like their finances, board composition, and mission. Read More

Conservation Corner

Every year The Friends of Malheur NWR sponsor a seasonal position to support Malheur NWR's Biological Department needs. The Refuge Biology Staff manage this young field biologist's day to day tasks ensuring that they have a rich experience while conducting important work that might otherwise not be completed. This technician will learn from Refuge Supervisory Ecologist, Aquatic Health Specialist, and Wildlife Biologist as they navigate responsibilities from aquatic vegetation surveys on Malheur Lake to milkweed surveys in the Blitzen River Valley.

Click HERE or on the banner above to see the position announcement.

Please share this announcement widely to help our next seasonal Technician

find their dream job!

Signature Signage

Written by Janelle Wicks

Inclusion of 2005 article by Patty Bowers

OCT 2005. By summer’s end a new sign was up along Hwy 78 directing visitors toward Malheur Refuge at the Hwy 205 junction near the Poison Creek Grange Hall. Refuge Manager, Donna Stovall, was contacted early this spring by PRIDE, Positive Results from Innovation, Determination, and Energy, a local grass roots organization dedicated to improving the local community. PRIDE offered the Refuge the opportunity to use the back of their large sign which welcomes visitors to the communities of Burns and Hines. PRIDE is responsible for several landscaping, signage, and clean-up projects in the Burns and Hines communities. Read More

Follow That Swan!

February Update by Gary Ivey, PhD.

One of the collars (@19) has not transmitted data since late August when it remained on a small wetland in west-central Alberta, near Goodfare. Neck Collar Codes @10, @11, @13. @16, @17, and @20 all remained at Malheur Refuge through the month of January, using Benson Pond, Boca Lake and Knox Ponds (see Figure). Read More

2024 Harney County Migratory Bird Festival

Written by Tara Thissell

Photo by Dan Streiffert

The Festival set for April 11-14, 2024

Open your calendar and plan for some fun! Registration opens February 14th, 2024. Here are some highlights:

Tours: We are offering the full gamut of tours – van-guided; we-lead-you-drive caravans; and self-guided – and you can enjoy touring by a variety of means, like walking, hiking, biking, riding, or driving! And, in response to festival-goer requests, we’ve changed our tour structure to provide different, unique experiences with each opportunity!

Activities and other programs: There are many non-tour activities to enjoy throughout festival weekend. Some highlights include a program called ‘Star Stories on the Wing’ with Oregon Outback Star Safari; the ‘Belted Kingfisher – Messenger of the Waterways’ book talk at the Harney County Library; social events including Wetlands Happy Hour, Bird Trivia Night, and the pinnacle Saturday Swoop, featuring the family of William Finley! We’re also excited to welcome a Friends of Malheur Refuge Stewardship Work Party for the first time.

Art show and sale: This year, the Art Show and Sale has 23 artists bringing their unique works for your shopping experience. We’ve got everything from fine art, metalworks, and optics to photography, woodworks, and jewelry. 

There is so much going on this year you will want to Read More!

Then visit www.migratorybirdfestival.com to plan your Festival weekend.

Festival Registration opens February 14th!

2024 Artist in Residence; Janet Stuart

Written by Janet Stuart

When I taught art both overseas and stateside, I created opportunities for my students to learn about the local art and culture. For example, in Zimbabwe, I invited local basket weavers, paper makers and stone carvers to teach. In Alaska, students learned to carve soapstone. In China, my students learned calligraphy and Asian scroll painting techniques. Read More

How Big is Malheur Lake?

Stay tuned for updates that will resume in spring.

Species Spotlight: Ring-necked DuckWritten by Peter Pearsall

Photo by Peter Pearsall

The ring-necked duck is a medium-sized diving duck ranging widely across Canada, the United States, and Mexico. They inhabit freshwater habitats across Canada and the western U.S. during the breeding season and migrate as far south as Central America during the winter months.

Adult males have a glossy, iridescent black head, neck, and back, which contrasts sharply with tbeir white and gray flanks. The feature for which the species is named—the chestnut collar on the male’s black neck—is perhaps its least conspicuous fieldmark, visible only in good light at close range. Both sexes’ bills end with a black tip bordered in white. Female plumage is primarily brownish with a paler head and face. Read More

Volunteering with Friends

How Did You Get Here?

Written by Lane Wintermute

I was asked about how I came to know Malheur. It would be interesting to hear your story, as well.

Everyone comes to find the Malheur National Wildlife refuge via a different route. But, however one arrives, they soon succumb to a certain allure that is found here. It’s hard to describe, but those of you that have experienced the place know what I am talking about. Some of us journey into the unique Malheur universe with purpose, and others stumble upon it by accident, luck, or some sort of divine intervention. I was perhaps a stumbler and will share my story with you.

In the early 1970s I was involved as a counselor in a new “Outdoor School” program in Multnomah County, Oregon, one that involved taking kids in sixth grade classrooms out of the urban environment into a week-long experience in the outdoors. Read More

Stewardship Volunteering in 2024

Our Project Committee is courageously lead by Board Member Donna Owens with volunteer coordination support from the one and only Alice Elshoff. Together they have been busy crafting a schedule of 2024 volunteer opportunities for you! Mark your calendars:

Sunday April 14th: Bird Festival gives back...

After you have spent the weekend enjoying all that the Harney Basin and Malheur NWR have to offer this is your chance to get your hands dirty and give back a little! See the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival registration to sign-up. Registration opens February 14th.

MAY 17th - 19th: Spring Spruce-up

General groundskeeping support at Refuge Headquarters including help w/ xeric landscape implementation and volunteer campground phase 2.

AUGUST 9th - 11th: Historic Sod House Ranch Stewardship

Help clean the grounds and set up this historic site for its annual public open season from August 15 - October 1.

SEPTEMBER 13th - 15th: Trail Stewardship

Assisting with the connection of the River Trail and the Restoration Trail for the improvement of the Blitzen River Trail from P Ranch north.

OCTOBER 18th - 20th: Work for the Wild

Walking for the Wild while you work! Barnes Springs Homestead clean-up and barbed wire removal.

Housing will be provided for FREE to volunteers at The Malheur Field Station or P Ranch.

Registration for these Stewardship Weekends will open in the months to come. In the meantime, if you have any questions please email friends@malheurfriends.org


Be sure to check out the incredible opportunities below and see our website's event calendar for more. Click on the images below to learn more about these programs and sign-up!

View presentation videos on FOMR's YouTube Channel
For more Events and Programs Visit FOMR's Calendar

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 24, 2024: The gradual western slope of Steens Mountain boasts an impressive 75-square-kilometer contiguous area above 8,000 feet in elevation–unique among ranges in southeast Oregon. This enormous sheet collects precipitation flowing eastward from the Pacific, up to 28 inches per year at the highest elevations. The mountain thus acts as an enormous winter reservoir for the surrounding lowlands: Snowpack on Steens translates to life-giving water on the Refuge, even through the hottest months of summer.

Photo by Alan Nyiri

#steensmountain #highdesert #oregondesert #greatbasin #malheurnationalwildliferefuge #friendsofmalheur

Follow the Friends of Malheur on Facebook and Instagram at Malheurfriends!

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 friends@malheurfriends.org today!

Current Membership Total: 934

2024 New Members: 6!

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

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 program.

Monthly giving makes becoming a Member easy! Set up a monthly donation of $85 and become a 2025 Sandhill Crane Society Member! Email Janelle, director@malheurfriends.org.

Learn More about the Sandhill Crane Society

Your Business can support Malheur NWR by joining our Business Alliance Program!

Questions? Email us. Friends@malheurfriends.org

Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store

CLOSED for the Season. Will reopen on March 1, 2024

We are thrilled to welcome Local Arist Tory Schmidt as our newest addition to the Nature Store merchandise!

This spring you will find Tory's one-of-a-kind paintings along with products featuring her images at the Crane's Nest. Even the frames were made and fitted right here in Burns!

The great-horned owl pictured here is gouache and ink on watercolor paper. $210

Watch for other new items including local art and regionally relevant book titles coming soon!

Malheur HQ Visitor Center

CLOSED for the Season

New Member      Sign-up
Renewing Member Sign-up
Make a Donation Today
Visit our Website!

Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge



36391 Sodhouse Lane

Princeton, OR 97721 


Tax ID #: 93-1261322


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