Monday, February 22, 2010

Saturday Morning at Hagerman's Visitor Center

A gray chilly morning...wonder if we will have any visitors this morning...We did see two does in a field south of Refuge Road as we drove in, instantly making the whole effort worthwhile!

Then, shortly after we put out the "Open" flag, the first visitor arrived, out photographing wildlife. He showed us some of his pix on his camera view screen and voila, we saw that 18 American White Pelicans are now in at the Refuge.

Next a small group came in, members of Texoma Trails Alliance, gathering for a group hike. They were interested in the printed Refuge trail guides and looking at the various items in the nature exhibit area. Once everyone arrived, they walked the Harris Creek Trail and brought in some white goose feathers picked up on the trail before leaving for the day; they saw no geese but at least had "evidence" geese had been there!

Another photographer came in toting the largest lens we had ever seen! She was very excited about trying out this newest addition to her camera equipment, and received many admiring oohs and ahhs.

Among other visitors was a couple from New Mexico, who traveled to this area for a family celebration. They had recently been birding in Coast Rica and were awed by the birds seen there, but they also enjoyed watching birds at the Refuge feeder.

An Eagle Scout candidate came to check in before working on his project, replacement of benches along Harris Creek Trail.

Our last group for the morning was a youth group from West Sherman Baptist Church; they came to hike one of the trails. We were excited to see these young people interested in being outdoors and in learning about nature. Someday they will be the volunteers in the Vistor Center at Hagerman.

The Visitor Center hours are 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Saturday, and 1 - 4 p.m., Sunday. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day .

To download guides to each of the five trails at Hagerman NWR, go to - Click for NEWS and then About Hagerman. (Photo - American White Pelicans at Refuge, by Rick Cantu)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Photographer of the Month

February, 2010, marks the beginning of the third year for the Friends of Hagerman Photographer of the Month program. Each month, beginning in February, 2008, a photographer has been chosen and his or her photos, all taken at the Refuge, have been featured in a virtual album on the Friends website during that particular month.

Here is the roster of the Photographers of the Month, for the first two years:

2008-2009 - Jack Chiles, Rick Cantu, Johnny Beall, Kenneth Jeffcoat, Donna Niemann, Michael and Grace Haight, Carol Pfeiffer, Joe Blackburn, the Earley Family - Diane, Mark, Jimmy, Mariam, and Joshua; Ronnie Barron, and Dana Handy.

2009 -2010 - Eileen Sullivan, Cinda Benton, Tony Dean, Jim Gay, Robert and Mary Ann Cummings, Randall Lantz, Dick Malnory, Kay Karns, Bill Adams, Chris Jennings, Callie Evans, and Laurie Sheppard.

Some interesting trivia to note about the albums - all five members of the Earley family contributed to their album; two couples, Michael and Grace Haight and Robert and Mary Ann Cummings, each collaborated on their albums, and Joe Blackburn, who is a regular visitor to the Refuge, shot all the photos in his album in a single visit.

These photographers have made a great contribution to the photo resources of the Friends and have allowed many viewers to enjoy the Refuge through their vision and skill. Many thanks to each of them for their generosity in sharing their talents and their work!

To view the Photographer of the Month's album, please go to Photo Gallery at (Photo - Hagerman Landscape, by Rick Cantu)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Let's Look at Birds' Nests, Part II, by Helen Petre

This week we will look at some nests you might find at Hagerman NWR.

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) Nests of moss lined with hair or grass, sometimes rabbit, deer or squirrel fur. They like to build their nests in forest with shrubs and canopy.

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) Nests of moss, similar to Carolina Chickadee. They add dried leaves, grass, and even pieces of snakeskin or cellophane on top of the moss, and line the cup with fur to cover the eggs when the hen is away. Sometimes there are earwigs living under the moss. They build in deciduous forests and swamps, but like to feed at bird feeders, so you may see this bird at the Visitor Center.

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) Big, bulky, messy nests. Wherever there is food, there are starlings. They use grass, weeds, stems, twigs, corn husks, leves, and pine needles. Sometimes they add paper, plastic, cloth or string. They line the nest with feathers and green plants. Starlings are non native, invasive birds. They do use boxes if the hole is larger than an inch and one-half, but it is ok to remove their nests so that native birds can use the boxes.

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) Big messy nests like European Starlings. They like dense shrubs and thick underbrush or woods with tangled, brushy undergrowth. They use leaves, hay, grass, twigs, moss, roots, weeds, bark, plastic, snakeskin and feathers. The nest has a dome with a tunnel for an entrance; the inside is lined with hair and grass.

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) Eastern bluebirds use the boxes around the Refuge. They like open grasslands and open canopy with no understory. The nests are cup-shaped and made of grass, or sometimes pine needles and even hair. The neat little nest is a deep cylinder, unsual three or four inches deep withthe cup two and one-half inches in diameter and about that deep.

Bluebirds will be the topic for our Second Saturday program and March 13, and All About Bird Nests will be the topic for Second Saturday for Youth, on that same date.

For more information about programs and activities at Hagerman NWR, please visit For information about nest boxes, see Cornell Lab of Ornithology Nest Watch site,

(Photos - Empty Nest, by Denise Stephens, top, and Whose Nest? by Donna Niemann)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Let's Look at Bird Nests

By Helen Petre

Winter is the perfect time to walk the trails and look for bird nests. During the year, when the green leaves cover the trees, the nests are hidden, but in winter, we can find all kinds. Hagerman National wildlife Refuge has 11,320 acres of food and nesting habitat, so there is plenty of space for birds to choose a perfect home site. Nesting songbirds prefer the upland habitat along the trails away from Lake Texoma on the Hagerman Refuge.

On Saturday, February 13, at Second Saturday for Youth at Hagerman, youngsters aged 6 - 12 will be learning how to make gourd birdhouses, and in March "All About Nests" will be the youth program focus. In addition, "Bluebirds" are the topic for the Second Saturday general program on March 13. Make the most of your trail time to learn about how birds build their homes and then come to the programs to learn more.

Most birds build a nest of sticks or rough materials and line the cup, or inside where the eggs will be, with softer material. You can figure out which species of bird built the nest by noticing the materials and the shape of the nest. There are samples of bird’s nests at the Refuge Visitor Center, so you can go in and look at them and then see if you can find matching ones along the trails. There is often considerable variation in a nest of a particular species, but in next week’s post I will give a few clues for some common birds on the refuge.

For more information about activities and programs at Hagerman, please visit, and for Refuge information, see

Photos: Great Horned Owl recycling a hawk's nest, by Eileen Sullivan, and Kildeer Nest with Eggs, by Dick Malnory