Monday, March 29, 2010

New Visitor Most Photographed at Refuge

A new visitor showed up at Hagerman NWR last week, on Monday, March 22, to be exact. Since its arrival the Mute Swan has become the "most photographed" subject at the refuge.

Mute swans, we learned, do not really live up to their name, as they are capable of hissing and grunting sounds. Introduced from Eurasia, they are said to be very aggressive birds and will displace wild waterfowl, according to The National Audubon Society The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior (Illus. David Allen Sibley)

The Bird Check List for the Refuge lists Mute Swans as "Exotic" and notes they may be seen Fall, Winter and Spring. Tundra Swans are listed as "Accidental", having been seen only once or twice, and Fall and Winter are seasons noted for that species.

Where did the swan come from, we wonder. Rick Cantu, Assistant Refuge Manager says they are usually found in parks and zoos? Or maybe it hissed one too many times on someone's private pond? Will it stay, or will it fly away in search of a mate? In the meantime, enjoy the photo-op! (Most days the swan has been visible from Wildlife Drive.)

For more information about Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, visit and for information about programs and activities at the Refuge, see

Photo - Mute Swan, by Rick Cantu

Monday, March 22, 2010

Scouts' Good Deeds Benefit Hagerman NWR

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge has been the beneficiary of several Eagle Scout projects recently.

Along Haller Haven's Trail, there are two new benches, at various distances along the trail, ready for hikers who want to take a break. One bench offers a peaceful view of Lake Texoma, the other overlooks a pond.

A new long bench has been built along the Meadow Pond Trail. This bench will seat a small group and looks out over Deaver Pond.

New benches have also been installed along Harris Creek Trail. In addition, landscape fabric has been laid along a portion of the trail and overlaid with small gravel to offer mud-free footing during wet weather.

A wooden stile has been built over above-ground-level oilfield pipes that intersected the path to the bank fishing area at Big Mineral Creek, improving walk safety for fishermen using that pathway.

Thanks go to the all the Eagle Scout candidates who have chosen to build projects at the Refuge through the years, adding to the enjoyment of Hagerman NWR for the many visitors.

For more information about Hagerman NWR, see and for information about programs and activities at the Refuge, see

Monday, March 15, 2010

Top Ten Reasons to Visit the Visitor Center at Hagerman NWR

  1. YOU COUNT! We love to have visitors to the Refuge sign our guest book.

  2. JUST ASK! Friendly, knowledgeable staff and volunteers can answer your questions.

  3. FREEBIES! Refuge maps and literature, rules for Refuge use, guides to each of the five hiking trails, wildlife guides, bird check list, area maps and tourism info.

  4. GREAT VIEW! See wildlife exhibit items and photos taken at the Refuge. Enjoy watching birds at the feeding station just outside the Visitor Center.

  5. GET FOCUSED! Binoculars are available for loan to Refuge visitors during Center hours.

  6. GET CONNECTED! Sign up to receive the Friends of Hagerman newsletter, the Featherless Flyer, by e-mail.

  7. ADMIT ONE! Senior and Access Passes - good for discounted admission and other privileges at many federal recreation areas - can be obtained at the Visitor Center, Monday - Friday (holidays excepted) from 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

  8. DRESS WILD! Shop for T's and caps with images from Hagerman NWR - great souvenir of your visit.

  9. FOR YOUR COMFORT! Indoor plumbing!

  10. Hagerman NWR is open from dawn to dusk every day of the year. There is no charge for admission. The Visitor Center is open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas days (reduced hours on other holidays), Monday - Friday, from 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., on Saturday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., and on Sunday 1 - 4 p.m.

For more information about Hagerman NWR, visit For more information about the Friends of Hagerman and programs and activities offered at the Refuge, visit

Monday, March 8, 2010

Begin to Bird

By Susan Knowles

The reasons for beginning to bird may be different but the outcome is the same - a love and appreciation for birds.

We moved to the Denison area from Dallas and bought a place outside the city limits. After we settled, I noticed the quiet. No traffic sounds. Not even birds singing or talking to one another. So we put up a couple of bird feeders, and they came. But who were we looking at? We knew the basic backyard birds like Cardinals, Mockingbirds and Blue Jays. But who were the rest of these guys?

The first thing to do was to buy a "Beginners Guide to Birds". It gave beautiful pictures for the males and females of the common backyard birds. The book was arranged according to colors, so even we could identify species easily. I started keeping a list of all the different ones that came. Binoculars were essential, so we bought inexpensive pairs at Walmart.

We wanted to know more. Grayson County College advertised an adult education class on birding, and we signed up. The class was being taught by Deloris Hall. We were her only students and found out later that she did not get paid for teaching the class because the class quota was not met. However, she knew we wanted to learn, and she wanted to teach us. In the next couple of years we took trips with Del and her husband to Port Aransas and High Island at peak migration times. We even caught up with Del and her husband, Claud, in Arizona for the hummingbird migration. We were hooked on birds.

The binoculars are now better in quality and the field guides are more numerous. But the reason is still the same - we love to bird!

Ed. Note: Susan will teach "Fledgling Birders" for youngsters (parents may attend also!) at Super Saturday III, at Hagerman NWR on May 29. Watch for information on birding at Hagerman NWR.
Photo by Susan Dilmore, taken at Super Saturday II, May, 2009.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Signs of Spring

By Laurie Sheppard

I hate winter!! That's one of the the reasons I like living in North Texas - spring comes early here. Just about the time the holidays are over, I start looking for a change in the seasons. I'm ready to give up the long dark nights and enjoy late sunsets instead. Despite recent snowstorms, I'm optimistic that warmer weather is right around the corner. No, my redbud tree is not in bloom yet and the mercury has not emerged from the depths of the fifties, but I do see signs of spring everywhere.

Driving to the Refuge, I love to look out over the autumn planted fields and see a brilliant emerald carpet. Even along the roadside, there are sprouts of fresh green grass, and I know before long I'll see blossoms on Bradford Pear trees in yards along the way. One of the olfactory signs of spring struck me as I was driving home from the Friends board meeting at the Refuge last Thursday night. In spring, skunks become more active and occasionally one wanders onto the highway and the inevitable occurs.

Another sure sign of spring is the changes in the birds. You can hear it and see it at Hagerman. Cardinals and others call loudly from treetops to attract a mate. Yellow-rumped Warblers can be seen courting - they fly out from a bush or tree and flit about before returning to the same perch, almost as if they are saying "Look at me!"

Last year's babies who looked so much like their mothers all winter are starting to come into their adult plumage. Young male Red-winged Blackbirds are shedding their brown feathers and bursting out in shiny black with brilliant yellow and red shoulders. They're gathering in groups and trying out their grownup voices. Great Blue Herons with dull grey heads are suddenly sprouting distinctive black and white, and adolescent Northern Shovelers look bedraggled, caught in between juvenile and adult feather.

New birds are arriving here everyday - I know it's spring when House Finches show up at my feeding station to compete with the House Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. Chipping Sparrows scratch around in winter-moist soil for new sprouts and overlooked seeds. More and more shorebirds arrive at Hagerman as the Snow and Ross's Geese gather for their return trip north.

Now, where are those Redbuds?

Visit the Refuge soon to see these signs of spring for yourself. For more information, see

Photos - Adolescent Shovelers, and Chipping Sparrow - by Laurie Sheppard