Thursday, January 26, 2012

Short-eared Owl at Hagerman NWR

The recent sighting of Short-eared Owls at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge has created quite a stir, with photographers and birders vying for a look at the rare visitors.

Jack Chiles checked the bird census reports for the Refuge, and found that this particular owl has not been sighted since 1991, but previous to that was seen every few years.

The following is a list of recorded sightings of Short-eared Owl on the refuge.

1971 - 2 were seen on 2/7, 1 on 2/27, 1 on 3/10 and 3/22.

1974 - 2-5 seen on 11/23 to 12/17

1979 - 1 on 11/30

1982 - 2 on 12/18

1983 - 1 on 1/28 and 2/10

1984 - 1 on 11/11

1986 - 1 on 5/29

1989 - 1 on 1/26 and 2/2

1991 - 1 on 11/10, 11/11, 11/14, 11/16, 11/19

And the current series of sightings starting with the sighting by Skeeter and Marolyn Lasuzzo on Thursday, January 12, 2012, at the marsh on Silliman Rd.

According to David Sibley (Sibley Guide to Birds, Knopf, 2000), the Short-eared is a medium sized owl and so aerial that it may be confused with the Northern Harrier and like the Harrier, is found in open expanses such as marshes and prairie, hunting rodents, often seen during daylight hours. The winter range covers most of the lower half of the U.S. as well as the upper West Coast. Welcome back to Hagerman!

Bird sightings at the Refuge are posted weekly on the Bird Data page,; visit the Friends Facebook page for photos and more sighting information.

Photo - Short-eared Owl, by Mike Chiles

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Begin to Bird Class Offered at Hagerman NWR

Would you like to learn more about the birds that are coming to your backyard feeder? Would you like to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count ( this year, Feb. 17- 20? Maybe you are thinking of purchasing a bird field guide or a pair of binoculars. Or maybe you would like to be able to identify birds you see at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge will offer Begin to Bird, a free class for beginning birders, starting on Saturday, January 21, from 9:30 – Noon, and finishing on Saturday, January 28, again from 9:30 – Noon.

Led by long-time birder Dick Malnory, the class is recommended for adults and teens. Malnory will address features to look for in purchasing equipment such as field guides and binoculars, and show strategies for learning to identify a number of songbirds and waterfowl.

Participants will register at the door, on January 21; no advance registration necessary. The class will meet in the Multi-purpose Meeting Room in the Visitor Center at the Refuge, 6465 Refuge Road, Sherman 75092. You may contact Malnory through the Refuge, 903 786 2826, or through the Friends of Hagerman website (use “Contact”).

Photo - American Robin, by Bill Hurst

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Coming Events at Refuge, Jan. 14-28, 2012

Hagerman NWR - Coming Events, January 14 – 28, 3012

Second Saturday, January 14, 2012 - The Sparrows of Hagerman, 10 am, Meeting Room, Visitor Center.

Dr. Wayne Meyer will lead this presentation on the many kinds of true sparrows that migrate to Texomaland during the winter months.

  • Identification tips for birders of all levels of ability, including the importance of habitat, in recognizing different species.
  • Species can be grouped by habitat such as Grasslands or Trees and Brush, then by physical characteristics such as Zebra Head, Red Cap, Streaky Fronts with Stickpins and others.

Informal lecture at 10 am, followed by a short field trip on the Refuge, weather permitting. Those attending might want to bring field guides and binoculars, and dress for the weather.


Second Saturday for Youth, January 14, 2012, 10 am – “Recyclerama”, Audio Visual Classroom, FOH Center

  • Mr. Can-head craft project! And - make some music - Toot a newspaper horn, or tap out a rhythm on a cereal box drum!
  • Games and activities to encourage recycling and re-use.

For ages 4 – 10 (parents must accompany ages 6 and under, thanks); short nature walk, weather permitting; bring coats, etc. Please call the Refuge to reserve a place for your child, 903 786 2826.


FOH Nature Photo Club – 12:30 pm, January 14, 2012, Audio Visual Classroom, FOH Center

Program, “Physiology of Photography: Why We See Things the Way We Do”, by Dale Thoreson

  • Photo sharing – theme – “Winter”. Send photos in jpg format with your name in the file name to ASAP!!
  • Club is open to all photographers interested in nature photography. Visitors welcome!
Bring a brownbag lunch and make it a day at the Refuge.

Still more...

Begin to Bird Class, Saturdays – January 21 AND 28, 9:30 am – Noon, Meeting Room, Visitor Center.

  • Learn how to choose and use field guides and optics
  • Learn strategies for identifying birds

Free class; register at the door January 21. Leader – Dick Malnory

Programs are sponsored by Hagerman NWR, 6465 Refuge Road, Sherman, TX 75092, and the Friends of Hagerman. Open to the public free of charge; nominal dues for Photo Club, no charge for visitors to club meetings. No reservations needed except for youth program.

Photo: Harris' Sparrow, by Dick Malnory

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"The Rut" at Hagerman NWR

Hagerman Wildlife Refuge has beautiful White-tailed deer within its boundaries. Traveling the roads and trails within Hagerman hoping for a glimpse of one of the magnificent bucks is a common pastime of many visitors to the refuge. One of the best times to see White-tailed bucks in Hagerman is during "the rut". The rut is the time of year when deer breed. During the rut, the bucks move more often on a constant search for does with which to mate. This is also a time when the bucks have their attention focused on finding does and seem to lose a lot of their natural caution. For this reason, White-tailed hunting season runs during the rut. This is also a great time to photograph the bucks. Not only does one have a better chance of seeing a buck, but the bucks look magnificent during the rut.

So when is the rut at Hagerman Wildlife Refuge? According to a three year study done in 1995, the timing of "the rut" varies depending on where you are in Texas. In the Post Oak Savannah region of Texas, which is where Hagerman Wildlife Refuge resides, the rut begins as early as September 30th and extends to January 16th with the average breeding date being November 10th. The biologists' study found that the does had an average of 1.7 fetuses and that 95% of the females had been successfully bred. The biologists also found that 92% of the fawns were born by June 17th. Grayson County lies adjacent to the Cross Timber Region where the rut begins October 13th and last until around the 17th of December. These dates might actually be more accurate for Hagerman. This is the most recent data I have found. This same study also pointed out that over half the White-tailed deer have twins and that triplets were not common, somewhere around 2%. I observed a doe with triplets in Hagerman last year.

My wife and I will hike into the backcountry at Hagerman in an attempt to photograph White-tailed bucks. We will set up a blind along some obvious deer trails and wait for the deer to pass by. This technique usually results in some close up images of numerous bucks. After a morning in the blind, I decided to drive to the west side of Hagerman hoping to see some bucks moving across one of the roads. I stopped on the Big Mineral bridge to photograph a Great Blue Heron in the creek. I had spent about thirty minutes waiting for a Great Blue Heron to fly from its perch in the creek, hoping to get a flight shot. When I decided to give up and put my camera down, the heron flew over to the shore. I again picked up the camera, hoping the heron would fly back to its perch. As I was following the heron as it walked along the shore, it walked into the edge of the water just as a beautiful 11 point buck strolled into my camera's view. Since I had my eye fixed against the camera body, the appearance of the deer in my viewfinder was a pleasant surprise. As a wildlife photographer, one must always be prepared for the unexpected.

Written By: Skeeter & Marolyn Lasuzzo, Photo by Skeeter Lasuzzo
Statistical data from a study and article found on Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

ED Note: Wildlife and nature photographers are invited to the Friends of Hagerman Nature Photo Club which meets bimonthly at 12:30 pm, at the Refuge. The next meeting will be on January 14, 2012.