List compiled by Teresa Wicks/ Photo by Loree Johnson
Portland Audubon’s Eastern Oregon Field Biologist, Teresa Wicks, has been compiling a weekly bird list. We have been sharing that list on the @MalheurFriends Facebook page as a part of our collaborative Harney@Home campaign. For more of Teresa’s observations and field experiences you can follow @RestoreMalheur on Facebook and catch the occasional article from her in our monthly Malheur Musings newsletter.
The combined list for July totals 138 species!
american white pelican
black-throated gray warbler
great horned owl
northern rough-winged swallow
For more information about bird sightings and migration through Malheur National Wildlife Refuge please visit our Seasons of Wildlife Page.
Malheur Refuge is celebrated for the incredible quantity and diversity of migratory birds that use its many habitat types through the seasons, but the Refuge is home to many year-round resident species as well. One such bird—commonly seen but seldom appreciated—is the California quail.
Coveys of California quail weave their way among the high-desert shrubs and open woodlands of Harney County, clucking querulously and darting under cover at the slightest hint of danger. (Used as an adjective, “quail” means to shrink in fear.) These small, chunky birds are at home on or near the ground, foraging for seeds and insects. Intricately scaled plumage and a forward-drooping topknot are the best field marks for this widespread species.
In Oregon, these birds are originally native to the counties bordering California and Nevada. Beginning as early as 1870, state game regulators introduced California quail to other parts of the state, and today they are found across most of Oregon in brushy upland habitats. They are year-round residents of Harney County, and are common even in rural developments. In Burns and Hines, Christmas Bird Counts regularly turn up many thousands of quail, which have become dependent on backyard seed-feeders to survive the harsh high-desert winter.
Quail hens nest on the ground, laying as many as 12 eggs per clutch. Being small, ground-dwelling birds, quail and their young fall prey to a variety of predators, including Cooper’s hawks, coyotes, weasels and snakes. Given a choice, quail will usually flee on foot, but are also capable of exploding into direct, high-speed flight when pressed.
In many cases quail are heard before they are seen. The males’ call of “Chi-ca-go!” is given to establish contact with his covey, and the various clucks and pips uttered by females and young provide a constant dialogue between these gregarious birds.
Quail, like a handful of other hardy native species, have managed to adapt to seasonal flux in the challenging environs of southeast Oregon. The fact that they thrive here—to the point of being one of the most numerous bird species found in the winter—should only increase our appreciation of them.
Congratulations to Peyton Kreuger of Drewsey, OR, for being the 2020 recipient of our education award! In the spirit of promoting the conservation and appreciation of natural spaces and public lands such as Malheur NWR, this $1,000 scholarship is available to any Harney County Resident seeking a degree in Conservation, Wildlife, Environmental Sciences, or Natural Resources related fields.
Peyton applied for the scholarship as a senior at Crane/Union High School at the urging of a counselor. He graduated last month and is planning to attend Eastern Oregon University in the fall to study Natural Resources.
“It means a lot to me and will help me out in obtaining my education at the higher level,” Kreuger said.
“I’ve lived my entire life in Drewsey, OR, with my parents and two younger brothers,” Kreuger said. “I love being outdoors. Hunting is a big part of my life, as well as ranching.”
Kreuger added that these activities are “a big reason why I want to pursue a higher level education in the Natural Resource Field to become a Fish and Wildlife Officer.” We at FOMR wish you the best of luck in your academic pursuits, Peyton!
The Friends of Malheur NWR’s annual gathering is going virtual! As part of our Harney@Home campaign and in celebration of Malheur NWR we are bringing you a full week of events designed to engage and entertain you, our Friends!
Additional details and updates will be posted regularly to our Facebook page. You can follow us @MalheurFriends. If you have questions about any of the events please email us, firstname.lastname@example.org
All of the Events listed below are linked directly to their Registration pages. If you do not register in advance you may still have the opportunity to watch LIVE via Facebook!