Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year's Resolution

For 2010, resolve to invite Mother Nature into your life! Ramp up the wildlife in your backyard! For bird feeder fun: purchase a new feeder and feeding supplies; it may take the birds awhile to find it if you are not already feeding, but they will come if you
a. Hang the feeder where birds will be safe from lurking cats
b. Place the feeder where birds can alight on nearby shrub, tree or other object and survey the scene before flying to the feeder
c. Keep feeders clean and supplied with fresh seed, suet, etc.
d. Don’t be too tidy – birds enjoy hunting for bugs and seeds among leaf litter under shrubs, etc.
e. You can squirrel-proof your feeder but why not enjoy the squirrels too?

Add a freeze-proof birdbath; yes they make them with heaters or pumps that keep the water moving! Again, keep it clean and full! Keep a brush pile for the enjoyment of the birds and rabbits. If space allows, add plants known to attract birds and butterflies to your garden.

Before the current cold spell our yard was visited by hundreds of robins! Now white-winged doves are vying with the songbirds for spaces at the feeders. Buy a bird book if you don’t already have one so you can identify your visitors.

Want to go further afield? When warmer weather comes you can enjoy wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies and more! Check out the parks in your area. Take your new bird book along, and binoculars if you have them. Visit the new Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas. Be a regular at Hagerman NWR! Explore each of the five trails at the Refuge for a variety of habitat and wildlife. Enjoy the Second Saturday nature programs and for youngsters, the new Second Saturday series for Youth, beginning January 9, at 10 a.m. in the Visitor Center. See you there!

To learn more about birds, visit
For information on programs and activities at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, see http://www.friendsofhagerman.com/

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Visit to the Refuge

Sunday evening we took part in what for many families is a holiday tradition, a visit to Hagerman NWR to see the geese. Not our first trip out this season, by a long shot, but the first one with family members along.

Our son drove us all in his roomy pick-up and once at the Refuge, grandsons and daughter-in-law scrambled into the truck bed armed with binoculars and cameras. My birder husband relayed bird ID to the back of the truck as we slowly rolled along Wildlife Drive, stopping frequently for photos and just goose-gazing!

We were thrilled by birds on the wing as well, ducks, herons and the geese. We were not thrilled by a couple of vehicles blowing by well over the posted speed limit of 20 mph, raising a terrible cloud of dust. Our younger grandson even put a tech-edge on the experience, figuring out how to shoot pictures on his cell-phone through the binoculars, producing an interesting but admittedly jumpy video of the Refuge sights.

No one was in a rush to leave, just enjoying the peaceful scene and a sense of being on nature’s timetable, not our own. But too soon dusk arrived and time to move on to other activities, taking our photos and memories with us.

For more information about bird sightings and activities at the Refuge, please see http://www.friendsofhagerman.com/
Photo: Bufflehead in Flight, by Dick Malnory

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Bird Count

Time once again for the annual Christmas Bird Count. At Hagerman National WIldlife Refuge, birders of all levels of ability are needed for the 2009 count on Saturday, 19 December. Meet at the refuge headquarters, 6465 Refuge Rd., Sherman, TX, at 7:00 AM to divide into teams. Anyone interested in searching for owls is welcome to meet Dr. Wayne Meyer at the headquarters building at 4:45 AM. The Friends of Hagerman NWR will be hosting a compilation social at 5:00 PM. All participants are encouraged to attend as the day’s results are added. If you want to participate you can just show up on count day, but it would help in planning if you let Dr. Meyer know you’ll be coming ahead of time. He can be reached at wmeyer@austincollege.edu or you can leave voice mail at 903-813-2254.

Reporting for the 2008 count, Dr. Meyer said "The count wasn’t blessed with as many interesting species as 2007 but we got 112 species this year, which is a very high count in comparison to several of the previous years. Probably because of the number of participants, we managed to see pretty much everything that was around this year, only one species was found on the count circle during count week that wasn’t located on count day (Lincoln’s Sparrow). You can see our results at the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count page (and the results of previous years) at
http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/. A summary of the count for this year is also included below.

Our most unusual species was Barn Owl, our first since 1992. We also got Fish Crow, two on the Oklahoma side of the circle. We set record high numbers for Bufflehead, Common Loon, Great Egret, Cooper's Hawk, Barn Owl, Downy Woodpecker, Pine Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow and Vesper Sparrow. We had 21 participants, the most we've had in many years, plus we got 6 feeder watchers to join in.

Results for 2008:
Species Number or cw Flags, Max Number, Number of counts
Greater White-fronted Goose 82, 1120 in 100 23
Snow Goose (white form) 5510, 10480 in 102 12
Snow Goose (blue form) 800, 1611 in 102 23
Ross's Goose 1400, 3100 in 104 23
Cackling Goose 162, 553 in 107 4
Canada Goose 609, 4249 in 86 15
Wood Duck 2 LC, 41 in 105 20
Gadwall 58, 632 in 101 23
American Wigeon 13, 88 in 108 20
Mallard 379, 3523 in 99 23
Northern Shoveler 59, 356 in 89 23
Northern Pintail 79, 2172 in 99 23
Green-winged Teal 385, 3081 in 106 6
duck sp. 2, 954 in 106 22
Canvasback 7, 69 in 107 13
Ring-necked Duck 55, 1227 in 106 23
Lesser Scaup 9, 81 in 96 22
Bufflehead 29 HC, 29 in 107 18
Common Goldeneye 2 ,10 in 90 15
Hooded Merganser 14, 48 in 89 23
Ruddy Duck 5, 27 in 107 12
Wild Turkey 8, 61 in 99 12
Common Loon 83, HC, 35 in 99 20
Pied-billed Grebe 7 LC, 35 in 87 23
Horned Grebe 1, 128 in 87 18
American White Pelican 11 LC, 285 in 108 23
Double-crested Cormorant 462, 2199 in 102 23
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) 69, 142 in 99 23
Great Egret 14 HC, 8 in 108 10
Black Vulture 320, 268 in 108 23
Turkey Vulture 242, 305 in 103 23
Bald Eagle 6, 32 in 99 23
Northern Harrier 6, 31 in 101 22
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3, 10 in 105 22
Cooper's Hawk 3 HC, 3 in 105 16
Red-shouldered Hawk 15, 24 in 105 23
Red-tailed Hawk 62, 101 in 95 23
Krider's Hawk 1, US, 0
American Kestrel 37, 63 in 93 23
Sora 3, 9 in 108 4
American Coot 143 ,724 in 106 23
Killdeer 23, 252 in 100 23
Greater Yellowlegs 19, 74 in 104 20
Least Sandpiper 34, 118 in 99 16
Wilson's Snipe 8, 35 in 103 5
Bonaparte's Gull 105, 3540 in 87 23
Ring-billed Gull 855, 31568 in 97 23
Herring Gull 7, 18 in 99 20
Forster's Tern 61, 338 in 107 23
Rock Pigeon 1, 43 in 108 3
Eurasian Collared-Dove 1 LC, 13 in 108 5
Mourning Dove 102, 297 in 97 23
Inca Dove 8, 9 in 106 4
Greater Roadrunner 2, 19 in 88 20
Barn Owl 2 HC, US, 1 in 93 1
Great Horned Owl 1, 7 in 86 12
Barred Owl 5 ,16 in 87 22
Belted Kingfisher 8, 23 in 105 23
Red-headed Woodpecker 4, 16 in 94 15
Red-bellied Woodpecker 54, 88 in 99 23
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 17, 39 in 105 23
Downy Woodpecker 57 HC, 55 in 99 23
Hairy Woodpecker 4, 7 in 87 21
Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker 90, 157 in 93 23
Pileated Woodpecker 5, 10 in 105 20
Eastern Phoebe 16, 22 in 105 21
Loggerhead Shrike 12, 87 in 87 23
Blue Jay 116, 343 in 102 23
American Crow 394, 8492 in 95 23
Fish Crow 2 US, 3 in 103 3
Horned Lark 73, 196 in 93 22
Carolina Chickadee 243, 341 in 99 23
Tufted Titmouse 132, 92 in 86 22
White-breasted Nuthatch 11, 15 in 102 20
Brown Creeper 9, 19 in 91 23
Carolina Wren 59 HC, 69 in 95 23
Bewick's Wren 6, 15 in 89 22
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2, 36 in 87 21
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 45, 78 in 108 23
Eastern Bluebird 293, 480 in 102 23
Hermit Thrush 5, 23 in 86 22
American Robin 572, 16763 in 93 23
Northern Mockingbird 77, 154 in 105 23
Brown Thrasher 5, 23 in 88 23
European Starling 783, 101388 in 87 23
American Pipit 10, 104 in 95 19
Cedar Waxwing 333, 1710 in 93 23
Orange-crowned Warbler 4, 9 in 105 10
Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler 162, 730 in 93 22
Pine Warbler 9 HC, 6 in 101 9
Spotted Towhee 2, 8 in 89 16
Eastern Towhee 3 HC, 3 in 107 9
Chipping Sparrow 272 HC, 184 in 108 21
Field Sparrow 45, 287 in 100 23
Vesper Sparrow 27 HC, 23 in 96 21
Savannah Sparrow 46, 252 in 108 23
Le Conte's Sparrow 1 LC, 22 in 96 16
Fox Sparrow 14, 72 in 100 23
Song Sparrow 27, 211 in 99 23
Lincoln's Sparrow cw 25 in 93 21
Swamp Sparrow 3, 42 in 87 21
White-throated Sparrow 103, 289 in 86 23
Harris's Sparrow 90 512 in 93 23
White-crowned Sparrow 151, 278 in 93 23
sparrow sp. 69, 275 in 96 19
Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco 693, 933 in 94 22
Northern Cardinal 381, 521 in 93 23
Red-winged Blackbird 149, 13332 in 87 23
Eastern Meadowlark 2, 892 in 94 23
Western Meadowlark 1, 8 in 103 19
meadowlark sp. 254, 3125 in 92 23
Brewer's Blackbird 40, 639 in 93 19
Common Grackle 5, 21230 in 88 22
Brown-headed Cowbird 77, 1132 in 88 22
blackbird sp. 305, 9895 in 88 23
House Finch 2 LC, 177 in 99 16
Pine Siskin 6 LC, 83 in 108 12
American Goldfinch 438, 960 in 102 23
House Sparrow 95, 260 in 88 23
cw = Reported count week;
US = Flagged as an unusual species;
HC = Flagged as an unusually high count.
LC = Flagged as an unusually low count.

For more information about Hagerman NWR, see http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/hagerman/index.html, and for information about programs and activities at the Refuge, see http://www.friendsofhagerman.com/.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Quack FAQ’s

Why do geese fly in a “V” formation? It would be too hard to fly in an “S”... Actually, it conserves energy and makes it easier to keep track of each other.

What is a gaggle? A group of geese on the ground is called a gaggle or flock . A skein is a group in flight, and if flying in a “V” formation, they are called a wedge.

A nickname for the Canada goose is “the honker”.

Have your ducks in a row? You might have a:
Brace of ducks - a pair; Flock of ducks – on the ground; Flush of ducks – taking flight; Paddling of ducks or raft of ducks - group swimming; Team of ducks – group in flight

If you’ve heard one quack…you haven’t heard them all – most species have their own quack and male and females may have different quacks.

A goose or duck by any other name is:
Baby ducks-ducklings; Baby geese- goslings;
Male ducks- drakes; Male geese- ganders

Eggs laid are called a clutch – may be 10 – 20 in a clutch

Certified swimmers – goslings and ducklings can swim when they ready to fledge.

Diving ducks are found on oceans, seas and inland water; dabblers are found on creeks and inland pools.

Want the lowdown on “down” – the small, soft feathers that provide insulation for birds, and when collected, for man. Down from Eider ducks is believed to be superior.

On Saturday, December 12, at 10 a.m., Dr. Wayne Meyer and Rick Cantu will show you the “Waterfowl at Hagerman NWR”, with a slide presentation and field trip! See you there!

More info? http://www.friendsofhagerman.com (Thanks to Bill Hurst for the Snow Geese Photo)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winning Photos

It has just been announced that Hagerman NWR Assistant Manager Rick Cantu won a Canon EOS 40D Digital SLR camera with a 28-135 IS USM lens for the Refuge in the recent USFWS Region 2 Photo Contest. His entry of a Great Egret in Action Fishing won the GRAND PRIZE which was the camera and lens valued at about $1,500. Congratulations and a big Thank You to Rick.

Friends member Grace Haight has also garnered two contest awards recently, Honorable Mention in the NWRA 2009 Photo Contest, http://www.refugeassociation.org/contest/2009winners.html and 3rd place in th Seney National Wildlife Refuge Photo Contest, in Michigan's upper peninsula, with the photograph of a Trumpeter Swan and her cygnets entitled "Looking after my Little Ones".

A photo of a Carolina Wren, taken by another Friend's member, Eileen Sullivan, was chosen for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count 2009 Photo Album, http://www.audubon.org/Bird/cbc/images/cbcPhotos/109/15139-36142-9L1MIWXKTG.jpg.

Rick Cantu's photo of the Whooping Cranes' visit to Hagerman NWR was included in the2008 Audubon Christmas Bird Count Album, http://www.audubon.org/Bird/cbc/images/cbcPhotos/108/9159-21362-6FD2QYKCLP.jpg

Hagerman NWR and the Friends of Hagerman are sponsoring the first annual Refuge Photo Contest, in 2010. entries will be accepted from January 3, - March 1, 2010. For contest info and entry form, see NEWS page for http://www.friendsofhagerman.com/

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Let's Talk Turkey

By Kathy Whaley

One rainy morning last spring on my way to work I suddenly found myself slamming on the brakes. There, out of the wet, misty brush, came one, then two, then three, four, five, six…in all 52 wild turkeys strutting their way across the road in front of me. Mouth dropped and eyes widened, I could only stare. I had ever seen this many turkeys at once!

This was one of the many flocks of Rio Grande wild turkeys (named for the general area in which they are found –the central plains states) we now have at Hagerman Refuge. But, this has not always been the case. By the late 1800’s, turkeys throughout Texas had been hunted to very low numbers. Since then hunting regulations and better habitat management practices have allowed turkey populations to steadily increase in most areas. Several flocks of 100+ turkeys use habitat on and adjacent to the Refuge including brushy areas next to streams and the lake, or mixed oak forests near the creeks. At Hagerman, turkeys are sometimes visible along field edges or roadsides with trees and like to forage for insects and seeds in wooded areas.

Female turkeys weigh about 10 pounds while males tip the scales at closer to 20. Their iridescent feathers have a green-coppery sheen to them with the tips of the tail and lower back feathers being light tan. Male turkeys are known for their “beards” which are actually bristly tassels rather than feathers and grow for life instead of molting. Wild turkeys prefer to nest in grass or brush at least 18 inches tall and usually lay 10-11 eggs that hatch in 28 days. Young turkeys (poults) are up and running behind the hen within the first 24hours. Being generally ground dwellers, there is a high mortality rate on poults by critters including bobcats, foxes, snakes, raccoons, and hogs. Safe night roosting sites are critical to turkey survival. They typically seek trees that are 40 feet or taller and tend to roost in groups.

Although you can see turkeys any time of year, spring is an especially fun time to look for these unique birds. Males can often be seen strutting around and fanning their tail feathers in hopes of impressing the ladies. When you visit Hagerman Refuge, keep an eye out for signs of wild turkeys by looking for scratching in the dirt or leaves, spotting their large three-toed foot print, or listen for gobbling sounds coming from the woods.

For information on activities at Hagerman NWR, please visit http://www.friendsofhagerman.com/.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One Very Large Bird Feeder

Do you feed the birds who come to your backyard? What if your backyard was over 11,000 acres and full of hungry birds!
The mission of Hagerman NWR is to provide for migratory waterfowl, so each fall crops are planted to meet the needs of thousands of geese who will winter at the Refuge. The geese will browse on the tender green shoots of wheat and the goal in planting is to have a more than ample supply so that the geese stay on the Refuge rather than visit nearby farms! Other crops such as corn and soybeans are planted for both visiting and resident wildlife.
The Refuge wetlands are managed to provide for the ducks and other waterfowl. In the spring and summer marshes are drained and native vegetation allowed to grow; then each fall the marshes are flooded, creating an ideal “soup” for the ducks.
Periodic controlled “burns” are conducted to keep unwanted vegetation such as cedars and honey locust from taking over the prairie landscape, helping to maintain a habitat for the many seed- and bug-eating birds.
The next time you shop for birdseed or a new feeder for your backyard, think about stocking over 600 acres “for the birds”.

BIRD SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS FROM NOVEMBER 17TH - 72 species seen: 1,300 snow geese, 700 Ross' geese, 125 white fronted geese, 300 pintail, 120 white pelicans, 1,200 Franklin's gull, 75 green winged teal, 70 mallard, 50 shoveler, 35 gadwall, 27 great egret, 60 meadowlark, 25 junco, and 15 bluebirds.

For more information about activities at Hagerman NWR, please see http://www.friendsofhagerman.com/

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Get the Picture? Photography at Hagerman NWR

Hagerman NWR is a magnet for photographers – there is always something different to see and to photograph, depending on the season, the time of day, and the weather.

In addition to the wildlife and the landscape, the Refuge and the Friends of Hagerman offer a number of special activities for photographers. There are periodic programs on photography as part of the Second Saturday Nature Program Series. The Photographer of the Month program features an album of twelve photos taken at the Refuge, on the Friends of Hagerman website. Shown above are some photos by the November, 2009, Photographer of the Month, Chris Jennings.

Photographers who are on Facebook are invited to become fans of the Friends of Hagerman Facebook page and post photos taken at the Refuge, as well as comments on their visit.

The Refuge and the Friends have also sponsored two Photo Safaris this year. Small groups, led by experienced photographers have gone out to “shoot” and then turned in the resulting pix for inclusion in a power point “virtual gallery”. The most recent Photo Safari was held October 24, and the show will be presented at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 12, in the Audio Visual Classroom at the Refuge, 6465 Refuge Road, Sherman, Texas.

Finally, entries in the first Annual Hagerman NWR Photo Contest will be accepted from January 3 – March 1, 2010. Rules and entry forms are available at the Visitor Center at the Refuge, or on-line at www.friendsofHagerman.com (see the NEWS page for Photography at Hagerman NWR).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Second Saturday Nature Program Set for November 14, 2010

Tom Miller, KXII Meteorologist, will present The Weather Report at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 10 a.m. Speaking at the Second Saturday Nature Program, Miller will explain how to interpret television weather reports, weather trends and current methodology of weather reporting.

Tom's presentation will be held in the Audio Visual Classroom at the Refuge, 6465 Refuge Road, Sherman, and there will be time for questions. Miller graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Meteorology. Since February of 1988, Tom has been doing morning and noon weather for KXII-TV.

At 8 a.m. on Nov. 14, a free van tour of the Refuge will be available, conducted by a knowledgeable guide. The tour, which will last approximately one hour, is free but limited to twelve participants. In addition, weather permitting, there will be a one hour long guided nature hike, also starting at 8 a.m. Both of these activities will depart from the Visitor Center at the Refuge.

Second Saturday Nature Programs are sponsored by Hagerman NWR and the Friends of Hagerman. The programs are free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Refuge, 903 786 2826, or see www.friendsofhagerman.com.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Welcome, and Van Tours of Refuge Begin in November

We're so happy to present to you the official blog for the Friends of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. Located in North Texas, on the Big Mineral Arm of Lake Texoma, Hagerman NWR offers an 11,000 acre plus habitat - water, wetlands, prairie and woods - for wildlife. The primary mission of the Refuge is to offer a safe resting and feeding area for migratory waterfowl.

The Friends’ main focus is helping Refuge staff in providing our visitors a first-class experience in education, conservation, appreciation of nature, and fun. We plan to use this blog as a way to keep everyone informed about the activities and events at the Refuge as well as bird sightings.

Huge flocks of geese will soon be arriving to spend the winter at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, and human visitors to the Refuge will have the opportunity to take a free van tour to view these geese as well as other wildlife at the Refuge, starting in November. Two-hour tours will be conducted by Refuge staff on the first and third Wednesday in November, December, January, and February. There will also be a tour on December 30. During the tour, visitors will learn the process of creating and maintaining the 11,000 acre habitat for resident and migratory wildlife, particularly birds.

Visitors can expect to see pelicans, numerous species of ducks, four species of geese, several species of sparrows, as well as white - tailed deer and wild turkeys.
Reservations will be required for the tours and can be made by calling the Refuge, 903 786 2826. The Tours will depart from the Visitor Center at the Refuge at 10 a.m. on the designated days. Each trip will be limited to twelve people. Binoculars will be available on a free loan-basis.

We hope you've enjoyed this introduction to the Friends of Hagerman NWR blog! You can bookmark our page for easy retrieval. We also want to hear from you, so feel free to click the comment button below to let us know what you think.

We're planning to post a new blog entry every week, so stay tuned for our next post, which will feature events coming up on our Second Saturday Nature Program Series.

For more information about activities at the Refuge, see
http://www.friendsofhagerman.com . To learn more about Hagerman NWR, see http://southwest.fws.gov/refuges/texas/hagerman .