Youth and families are invited to come participate in the 120th Christmas Bird
Count (for Kids), a National Community Science project. Participants are
encouraged to form their own teams, or come prepared to join a team. Expert
birders will be available to teams. Lunch and hot cocoa provided.

9:00 – 10:00 AM Binocular Boot Camp; Harney County Library

10:00 – 12:00 PM Team Bird Counts; Burns/Hines, routes provided

12:00 – 1:30 PM Lunch and Count Summary; TBD

To learn more or to sign up, contact twicks@portlandaudubon.org

Malheur NWR CBC

The crew will meet at P Ranch on the Refuge. Teams will be assigned routes that have both hiking and/or driving options.

It is generally cold and often snowy. This count averages 55 species, but have reached 65-70 species!

This field counts has an 18 participant maximum.

To join us or for more information contact Coordinators:
Rick Vetter cell 541-589-2230
Joan Suther cell 541-589-1087
Email cotingas@gmail.com

Burns/Hines CBC

There are options for hiking and/or driving.  It is generally cold and often snowy. The count averages 55 species, but have reached 65-70 species! The Burns count holds the world record for California quail, with over 10,000 within Burns city limits!

Join us for the annual post-count tally meeting, over dinner and award ceremony for numerous categories following the Burns-Hines count on Monday Dec 16th!

You can also do a feeder count from the warmth of your home and still join us for the award ceremony and dinner!

Field counts have an 18 participant maximum.

To join us or for more information contact Coordinators:
Rick Vetter cell 541-589-2230
Joan Suther cell 541-589-1087
Email cotingas@gmail.com

Rare Owl at Malheur Refuge

Written by FOMR Secretary Rick Vetter/Photo by Rick Vetter

Conducting raptor surveys on Malheur Refuge usually turns up something special, like a barn owl hunting during the day, diving into deep snow; or 36 coyotes in one hour hunting mice at 20 degrees below zero. But never anything this special.

During the November 22, 2019 survey, Joan Suther and I saw a suspected short-eared owl at dusk perched on a fence post just off of Center patrol Road south of Benson pond, which is a good bird for a Harney County “winter” raptor count. 

But as we approached the bird, something appeared odd. When the owl turned his head to look at us, it had big black shiny eyes, which meant that this was a rare barred owl or a humongous flammulated owl in disguise!

This is only the third observation of a barred owl on Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The other two observations were made at Refuge Headquarters, with one on March 26, 1996 by myself, Joan Suther, Larry Hammond and others; and another on October 6, 2000 when Noah Strycker, Alan Contreras and others watched a barred owl fight over a snake with a great horned owl. Headquarters makes a bit more sense for this species, as there are trees. It was odd that this one was hunting a clear cut hay meadow and competing with a coyote for food. Both were hunting by ear, listening for the sounds of meadow voles in the dry grass.

Several other sightings have occurred in Harney County or nearby. The first one was observed in the mid 1980s at Delintment Lake on Malheur National Forest by Charlie Bruce while elk hunting. Mark Armstrong found one dead below his picture window in the mid 1990s in Hines after he heard a loud thump that shook the front of his house. A pair was also heard calling in the summer of 2013 on Malheur National Forest. 

There are no records in CD Littlefield’s book, “Birds Of Malheur Refuge”, because the book was published in 1990 before most of the known observations occurred. 

Barred owls have been expanding their range in the NW and into California and prefer the moist forests on west side of the state where they compete with spotted owls and smaller owls.

Gifts from Malheur

In the spirit of gratitude and reflection we asked Refuge Staff, Partners, Friends Board Members and Volunteers if they would share what they consider a gift they have received from Malheur NWR. Their responses where as diverse and profound as the landscape we love.

‘After serving as refuge biologist at Malheur for 15 years, one of the many gifts I received was a lifetime of memories of intimate experiences with wildlife, which I treasure.’ Gary Ivey, FOMR Board President

‘The Joyful Camaraderie of Shared Purpose’
Cindy Zalunardo, Member & Volunteer

‘One of my many gifts from Malheur over the years was the privilege Cal and I had of removing miles of unwanted Fencing—not everyone’s idea of fun, but so rewarding!!!’ Alice Elshoff, FOMR Board Member

‘Driving up the CPR after a day of birding and coming upon an open field where about one dozen short-eared owls were swooping and turning, hunting in the evening light. Not only were they life birds, but an unforgettable gift of beauty that only nature can provide.
Suzanne Staples, FOMR Board Member

‘I find both opportunities for solitude and inspiration on my visits to Malheur NWR. This is one of the few places where one can still have unique one-on-one experiences with wildlife. It’s simply a treasure.’
Dan Streiffert, Member & Volunteer

‘From breeding habitat for wildlife to someone’s first time fishing. The refuge provides memories, homes, a safe place, food, culture and so much more. To me Malheur NWR has given me many gifts: my first job in my conservation career, a new home from home, memories I will never forget, new life skills, new friends, and the most important gift to me was a family. I may be far from the family and friends I know and love, but I have a great addition to my family here at Malheur NWR. Makes the work relationship easy to communicate and talk to one another. We are all so different and special. Whether we come from different backgrounds, cultures, ideas, hobbies or appearance. We are different but that is what keeps the work keep rolling. We all work pretty well together and feel comfortable with one another. I am not saying we are all perfect because like almost every family differences can be cumbersome, but at the end of the day, they are my family. I am not sure I would have still stayed at Malheur NWR without the support I have at the refuge and the extended FWS regional office family. I am very proud, blessed, and super grateful to have each and every one of them in my life and I have the refuge to thank for that.’
Alexa Martinez, Malheur NWR Wildlife Biologist

‘Aside from having the time to step away from my desk, from paperwork, and from my dissertation, Malheur has given me the time to stop and experience the one thing that has been a constant companion, teacher, and inspiration throughout my life…the land. This land is quite different from the serpentine forests of my youth, but is the land that I have dreamed of since I was quite young. My endless gratitude for this land will never quite fit into words, but this is my attempt’:

solitary birdsong soundtracks
amid early morning pink-hued hills
owl call
star-filled skies
landscapes mirror-reflected on Malheur Lake
long-tailed weasel and mustelid play
among willows and ponds and waterways
wild flower painted meadows and hillsides
sage-brush scented rainstorms
ibis croak
glistening color-transformation
amid shifting sunlight and tules
Teresa Wicks, Portland Audubon Society Eastern OR Field Biologist