Malheur Musings
January 2021
A frozen Marshall Pond at Malheur NWR Headquarters is picture perfect. See more of Patricia Feltman's stunning photographs and read about her recent visit to the Refuge in her article below, Malheur & Me: A Winter Wonderland.
Photo by Patricia Feltmann,
Ringing in the new year may have been a quiet, simple, at-home affair this year but it was certainly no less celebratory! Reflecting on the year that has passed, we are proud of what we were able to accomplish and also thrilled to put it in the history books. January, celebrating the New Year, is for looking forward!

Of course, there will be challenges and uncertainty ahead of us, but we will meet them with an even stronger resolve. We will continue, despite the obstacles, to support our Refuge at a time with expected increases in visitation, reductions in budgets and staffing, and the yet unknown impacts of global climate change on our local habitat and all of the wildlife that depend on it.

Personally, I look forward to eventually returning to my office and reopening of the Crane's Nest Nature Store at Refuge Headquarters. I miss seeing the seasons change through my office windows and meeting people from across the country who have come to experience the magic of Malheur. Despite the timeline upon which either of those things will happen, the Friends still have a lot going on!

Here's hoping for a slow and safe return to life's newest, new normal and to a very happy New Year!
As always, Thank you for being a Friend.

Janelle L Wicks
FOMR Executive Director
Conservation Corner
By Jeff Mackay, MNWR Refuge Manager/Project Leader

Refuge Manager, Jeff Mackay, has written us to share updates from 2020 and plans for the new year. Information in this article includes updates on staffing, infrastructure, and biological work from the Refuge. ENJOY! Read More
By James Pearson

In the last article I wrote for Malheur Musings, I mentioned that we as a refuge are only at the beginning of a long term journey to restore the currently degraded state of Malheur Lake. On the ground research and modeling efforts have helped us understand that the current turbid state of Malheur Lake is being maintained by strong positive reinforcing feedback loops (i.e. bioturbation via Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) and wind sediment resuspension), which are pulling the lake towards the turbid state. In order to shift Malheur Lake back to the historically clear state, a transformative effort is necessary, incorporating a combination of Common carp (hereafter “carp”) and wind-wave suppression, as well as restoration of emergent/submergent vegetation. Read More

By Peter Pearsall

We Americans consider very few insect species “iconic”—that is, cherished, beloved, recognized by millions across the country. We much prefer to lavish attention on furrier, floofier, more familiar creatures. But if any insect were to merit such status, that insect would surely be the monarch butterfly.

By January Bill & Marie Travers

This article is a special wrap-up of the avian botulism response that took place at Klamath Basin NWRC in 2020.

'...Soon we had hundreds of ducks and shorebirds at the MASH hospital to care for, and released birds on a daily basis to make room for the new ones arriving each afternoon. Our days ran together and were the same, resembling “Groundhog Day:” feed birds, clean, swim birds, move birds, dry birds, intake birds, release evaluations. Each new day also threw us some kind of crazy curveball.' Read More
Every month 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.

With that in mind, we want to know what interests you. Let us know If you have an idea, or several, for future Malheur Musings newsletter articles.

Email your suggestions to
Malheur & Me: A Winter Wonderland
Article & Photographs by Patricia Feltmann

My husband and I were introduced to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the late 1980’s by my parents, Tom and Dixie Nelson, who had been visiting for years. We finally returned in 2017 and have been making regular forays to the area ever since. Our trips are usually in spring and summer, to catch as much of migration and nesting seasons as possible. My husband's personal favorites are the Yellow-Headed Blackbirds, which remind him of his childhood in the mid-west.

This year, however, we decided to make a trip to the refuge in December. I am not sure Headquarters could look any more beautiful than it was that morning! The area was covered in freezing fog. We could hear coyotes howling in the foggy distance and we had the place completely to ourselves. READ & SEE MORE

Programs & Events
Saturday, December 19, 2020 33 participants from nine local families turned out for Harney County’s second annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids). It was a cold but sunny day with perfect bluebird skies, though no bluebirds made a showing for the count. Our teams counted birds along designated routes in Burns and Hines, stopping at predetermined CBC4Kids checkpoints where they were encouraged to take and share their group photos.

Bird Scouts is a collaborative effort to create accessible bird and nature themed educational activities for the youth of Harney County. Friends of Malheur NWR and Portland Audubon will provide activity and project materials for participants through the Harney County Library and Slater Elementary School's Bird Scouts Club for 5th graders. When participants complete their activities they will earn a new Bird Patch to add to their collection!

In addition to these bi-monthly activity packets, we are putting together Explorer Packs that will be available for check out at the Library and the Crane's Nest Nature Store at Refuge Headquarters.

This program is made possible with the generous support of:
  • Leupold & Stevens who donated 15 pairs of binoculars for Explorer Packs
  • Bird Collective who generously discounted their bird patches
  • The Burns BLM District who purchased these patches from Bird Collective
  • Field Notes who donated 20 packs of all weather notebooks for participants

If you want to support Educational Programs like Bird Scouts, please make a donation HERE.
End of Year Fundraising!

For organizations like Friends of Malheur NWR, the end of year fundraising season means connecting with our supporters and communicating the successes of the year in review, but also sharing our dreams for the year ahead. From November 1st to January 15th we refer to this time as FriendsGiving Season. Together, as Friends, we celebrate our ability to adapt, forging creative and innovative ways to stay active in 2020 while also planning for a bigger and brighter 2021!

If you are inspired to support this work, you can make your Donation HERE!
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:
Page by National Wildlife Refuge Association

Comment Deadline: Ongoing - Click Here
The National Wildlife Refuge Association has provided helpful tips for writing and submitting comments.
December'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.

Shorebirds (12/9) Video by Peter Pearsall
Have you ever noticed how some birds appear to constantly bob, tilt or jerk their heads as they move about? Shorebirds in particular are known for making distinctive “head throws” when alert to potential threats. These head movements serve to increase the amount of spatial information available to the birds’ eyes, which in many cases are relatively fixed in their sockets. By swiveling their heads (and with them their eyes), birds navigate their surroundings, locate food, and avoid predators. By contrast, most mammals (including humans) can make these same visual corrections with slight, continuous twitches of the eyes within their sockets.

With shorebirds, the eyes are often placed on either side of the head, allowing for limited overlap in the visual field of each eye. The abrupt up-and-down movement of the “head throw” behavior may thus serve to enhance depth perception, allowing the shorebird to more accurately determine the relative distance of threats.

Video description: Scenes of shorebirds (Semipalmated Plover, Marbled Godwit, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, American Golden Plover, Least Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Killdeer, Willet, Long-billed Dowitcher, Western Snowy Plover, Western Sandpiper) feeding and bobbing their heads, set to music with no dialogue. Video by Peter Pearsall/USFWS
This post reached 3,391 people through Facebook and was watched 251 times on Instagram! Follow our pages, @Malheurfriends, to see more great content like this!
Membership Minute
The sustaining support of our members is more imoportant than ever.
If you are unsure of your Membership status you can email us at today!

GIFT A MEMBERSHIP to the Malheur enthusiast and Bird lover in your life! Membership is a great way to keep up with and support the ongoing work of our organization!

All you have to do is fill out THIS FORM with the recipient's name and contact information and they will be informed of their Membership!
Current Membership Total: 675!
Volunteer with Friends
We are tentatively recruiting for the Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store (Monthly, March-October) Must be comfortable managing limited entry of the Store and enforcing Covid-19 safety procedures with all visitors.

These plans will require volunteers who are fully self-contained in an RV or Trailer that can be parked at Refuge HQ. There may not be access to the Volunteer Community Room & Kitchen or Bathrooms.

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 Crane's Nest volunteer position or contribute to the Newsletter in 2021 please email Janelle,
Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store
Unstaffed until further notice

The Online Nature Store is now operational and offering a selection of our favorite Malheur NWR and Friends of MNWR goodies!

What's on your winter reading list?

Edited by Alan Contreras

By Peter Walker

Malheur HQ Visitor Center
Unstaffed until further notice
Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | 
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721