Thursday, January 27, 2011

Room for Wildlife

We have had night visitors at our backyard bird feeders several times this winter. The accompanying photo shows a young raccoon enjoying sunflower seeds one evening this week. We generally deal with this by bringing the feeders in at night for awhile until the “varmints” give up and go elsewhere, but the latest incident made me think about a recent article I read listing the loss of habitat as a major cause of bird deaths. "Elsewhere" is dwindling. Hence the importance of Hagerman and other national wildlife refuges whose mission is to provide protection, rest and shelter for migratory and other birds.

In the 2006 animated movie, Over the Hedge, a subplot shows the difficulty animals experience in the face of blind development. Think about the birds who travel the North American flyways - for years they follow a chain of a welcoming lakes, forests or prairies, then one year, oops, now a mall or housing development or major highway has taken over one or more links in that chain. You could liken it to your favorite vacation spot closing down or pricing you out! But survival, not simply enjoyment, is at stake here. Let’s support the national wildlife refuges and “leave the light on” for wildlife, as Tom Bodett would say.

To learn more about Hagerman NWR, its mission and birds of the Refuge, please go to the offical website,; you can also learn about acitivites and events at the Refuge by clicking on the Friends of Hagerman link,

Today's post by Sue Malnory, photo by Dick Malnory

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What Birds Can I See Here?

Birders and other visitors to Hagerman NWR are always interested to know what birds are to be seen out on the Refuge. And currently there are several ways to obtain this information, some electronic and some the traditional way.

1. Each week on the NEWS page of the Friends of Hagerman website, (click Bird Survey Highlights), the highlights of the weekly bird census taken at the Refuge are posted, along with location for many of those listed.

2. Similarly, these highlights are also posted on the Friends Facebook page; if you are not “on” Facebook, you can navigate to the Friends page by googling Friends of Hagerman Facebook Page. Once on the page, scroll down to find the weekly post.

3. At Refuge Headquarters, a new whiteboard has been mounted just inside the door, with recent sightings posted, along with the date and location.

4. Also at HQ, ask the staff or the volunteers on hand for the Bird Census notebook, with complete record of birds seen each week.

In a more general sense, the Photo Gallery on the Friends website has albums devoted to the waterfowl, waders, raptors and songbirds. The collection is a work in progress and new photos taken at the Refuge are always welcome; send in jpg format to along with your name and the photo title. Permission to use the photo is implicit when you submit them. We also appreciate photos taken at the Refuge that are shared on Facebook.

A Guide to Winter Birds for Photographers lists most likely species and suggested locations. This publication is free and may be picked up at Refuge HQ.

A new and slightly revised edition of the bird check list for Hagerman is due in at this time; be sure to pick one up at HQ, free of charge, to register the birds you see on your next visit to Hagerman NWR. The list is also available on the Friends website, on the NEW page (click About Hagerman ) and on the official Refuge website,

So enjoy your trip to Hagerman NWR and be sure to let HQ know if you spot something different!!

Post by Sue Malnory, with photo, Wilson's Snipe, by Eileen Sullivan

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Swan Song

Adios, amigo - or amiga? The most photographed bird at Hagerman NWR for 2010 has disappeared. Yes, the much reported, much discussed, and much photographed Mute Swan is not around anymore. Mystery bird - from where? To where? The swan first appeared in late March, 2010, and was seen regularly until late November, 2010.

According to Peterson Field Guide to the Birds of North America (2008), the Mute Swan was introduced from Europe, and its range is slowly expanding. The year-round range is along the upper East coast and Great Lakes area, and irregularly, all the way to Iowa and Minnesota. The summer range is along the southern boundaries of Indiana and Ohio, nowhere near Lake Texoma or North Texas.

So - how did the Mute Swan make its way to the Refuge - probably we will never know. If only it weren’t mute…

If you would like to know more about what to see and do at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, please go to the official website for the Refuge, and for information about the programs and activities of the Friends of Hagerman at the Refuge, see

Post by Sue Malnory, with photo by Dick Malnory

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Eagles in Texoma

Post and photo by Skeeter Lasuzzo

Most people living in the Texoma area are not aware that Bald Eagles make their way to Lake Texoma and surrounding areas to spend the winter. I have also learned that some people believe all Bald Eagles have a white head and tail. Bald Eagles take up to 5 years to get the white head and tail that they will have throughout their mature lives. Over the last couple of weeks I have been fortunate to photograph Bald Eagles in two of the three different stages of their lives - from juvenile to approximately 2 years old. At one point, we were watching 4 eagles at one time. The image at right of the mature Bald Eagle was taken in the Tetons.

The juvenile Bald Eagles are all dark with the exception of white under wing coverts and white streaks on the tail. The immature eagle develops white patches on the belly and back after one year and additional white on the head and the yellow bill begin to develop after 2 or 3 years. Up until this point, the bill is mostly black.

The all white head and tail come with maturity after 4 to 5 years.

Ed. Note: The American Bald Eagle became a protected species in 1940. See for more information on current legal status. Eagles have been seen at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge recently near the pad roads on both sides of Big Mineral Arm.

For more information about Hagerman NWR, please see and activities and events of the Friends of Hagerman, see