Malheur Musings
March 2021
As a sub-headquarters of the French-Glenn Cattle Company at the turn of the century, Sod House Ranch is one of the oldest and best preserved historic ranches in Eastern Oregon. Malheur NWR takes great pride in being stewards of historical sites such as the relics of this era. In this issue you will find an article about recent restoration of the Sod House Ranch Stone Cellar in addition to a piece written by the photographer of this and other images in Malheur & Me: A Photographer's Playground.
Photo by Rich Bergemen
Late winter, just before spring is about to be sprung there seems to be a quickening pulse to this place. You can see and hear and feel what is about to be upon you, upon the landscape. It starts with a pair of cranes, a single meadowlark, the filling channels and ditches. It won't be long until every field is filled with life and the sky is a super highway of birds headed to where they need to go or returning here to settle in for another Harney Basin breeding season.

Most of us that watch the seasons change this way are usually keeping an eye out for a particular species or two. For you, it may be vultures or mountain bluebirds but for me I am eagerly awaiting my first glimpse of a snipe on a fence post and a float of white-faced ibis coming in for a graceful landing. It is no real secret that I am not much of a capital B Birder, but I do love these birds - all of them.

I recently said to someone that Diversity looks different in Harney County. At the time I meant something very specific about the construction of our region's racial and socio-economic demographics compared to urban areas. Since then I have spent a fair amount of time reflecting on this statement and how it is true in so many ways. The Refuge is a beautiful display of diverse habitats, many varied uses by so many unique species from river otters and American dipper to pronghorn antelope and bobolink, ground squirrels and burrowing owls to redband trout and American white pelicans. What a bounty of diversity we are charged with stewarding.

With diversity on all of our minds, I have been so appreciative of my professional colleagues from other Friends Groups and conservation organizations who spent February sharing wonderful content honoring Black History Month. And now, with March being Women's History Month I find myself in awe of the intersectionality and transition to celebrating the accomplishments, past and present, of women of color in conservation. Did you know that the most recent Director of the Fish & Wildlife Service, Aurelia Skipwith, was the first black woman to hold that role? Or that Toni Morrison was an avid bird watcher? I've compiled a list of stories and resources HERE that I thought you might enjoy.

Happy Women's History Month!
As always, Thank you for being a Friend.

Janelle L Wicks
FOMR Executive Director
Conservation Corner
By Alexa Martinez, MNWR Wildlife Biologist

Throughout the months of January and February, Malheur NWR staff conduct surveys for Trumpeter swans that may be utilizing the refuge during the winter months. Most survey sites are located at the south end of the refuge where there tends to be more water, as well as the Diamond Swamp area. On a weekly basis, biologist, volunteers, and staff report any sightings of swans on the refuge. Visitors are also more than welcome to send in their swan sightings during this time. Information that is collected include the date, time(s), location(s), and whether the individual was able to distinguish between the two species of swans found on refuge: trumpeter and tundra swans. Read More
By Peter Pearsall

Sodhouse Ranch was listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1979. NRHP states that Sodhouse Ranch is “one of the finest examples of an Eastern Oregon Ranch remaining in the state.” The stone cellar (pictured) at the site was built in 1900. According to the NRHP, the cellar at Sodhouse Ranch is an excellent example of an early 1900s stone cellar and worthy of restoration. Read More
By Peter Pearsall/Photos by Dan Streiffert

As the pandemic forces us to spend more time inside our homes, backyard birdwatching is becoming increasingly popular. By many measures, birdwatching itself hasn’t enjoyed this sort of widespread interest in decades. Backyard bird feeders are a source of joy to many of us, and they can provide essential calories to birds during times of need. But bird feeders can also be a source of disease if not properly maintained. 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.

Email your suggestions to
Photos By Rich Bergemen
"Originally a large-format black-and-white photographer, I tend to be more interested in relics of human habitation on the land than in the wildlife and the scenery. Over the years I've enjoyed prowling inside the old Pete French era barns--the famous Round Barn and the Long Barn near Frenchglen--as well as other historic structures near the refuge, like the now disappearing ghost town of Blitzen and the BLM-preserved Riddle Ranch on the slope of Steens Mountain."

This article contains 6 eye catching B&W images from Rich's Fall 2019 trip to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Thank you, Rich, for sharing your
images and story with us.
Programs & Events
It’s 2021 and we are still in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The uncertainties with Covid-19, social distancing requirements, and the responsibility to help stop the spread have put us in a position where we can’t safely hold our traditional event.
HOWEVER…we are working diligently and creatively to put together a VIRTUAL EVENT for you!
Virtual activities will go live (online) during festival weekend, beginning Friday, April 23, 2021. There will be a gamut of opportunities to explore Harney County and enjoy videos, conversations, photos, oral histories, commerce, workshops, our keynote speaker – Kenn Kaufman, and MORE! Most of the virtual opportunities will be free, though there will be some fee-based activities. Stay tuned for more!

This beloved business is celebrating their 30th Anniversary in March. To recognize this milestone, Backyard Bird Shop has planned a year of giving back to nature!  Every month from March 2021 through February 2022, Backyard Bird Shop will donate a portion of their sales to and promote awareness of select nonprofits that benefit birds and wildlife.

Friends of Malheur NWR and four other NWR friends groups will be among the participating nonprofits to benefit during the month of June 2021 (Don’t worry we’ll remind you!). Backyard Bird Shop will donate $1 for every case of suet sold during June – a time when birds are taking suet back to a nest full of young or bringing their newly fledged family to the suet. Read More
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:
The Biden Administration had put a hold on scheduled regulation rollbacks for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Today, March 1st, is the LAST DAY to comment and encourage the strengthening rather than loosening of these critical protections for migratory birds. There are many helpful sites with proposed talking points that you can add to personalize your comment. Check out these resources:
February'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.
Staging Sandhill Cranes (2/5)

Right now, most of the greater sandhill cranes that pass through the Harney Basin each spring are still on their wintering grounds in the Southwest. This beautiful photo from Arizona by volunteer Alan Nyiri shows how densely packed these iconic birds can be in their winter environs. 

This post reached 13,292 people through Facebook and received 109 reactions on Instagram! Follow our pages, @Malheurfriends, to see more great content like this!
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!
Current Membership Total: 725!
Want to GIFT A MEMBERSHIP to the Malheur enthusiast and Bird lover in your life?

Now our New Membership forms have a Gift Membership option! Just fill out the form with the gift recipient's information and then select Yes for Gift Membership at the bottom of the form. Payment information will be on the next page.
ATTENTION! The Donation Summary emails that were sent on Sun 2/21/21 DID NOT include Membership Dues. If you would like further confirmation of your 2020 Membership contribution please Login to your Friends Account or email
Volunteer with Friends
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.

Needed: Crane's Nest Nature Center & Store Volunteers are tentatively needed for April-October. Individuals must be vaccinated and/or willing to quarantine for up to 14 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. September is taken.

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 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!

$18 + S&H

Let this incredible audio-visual experience transport you to the vast expanse of Malheur NWR.

This new item is in production and will be available soon.
Pre-order yours today!
Click Above to read and see more from Linda Whiting!
Malheur HQ Visitor Center
Unstaffed until further notice
Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge | 
36391 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR 97721