Thursday, May 26, 2016

Web Bits

Did you know this about the Friends of Hagerman website?

Did you know that the first website for the Friends started out as the site for the 2005 Red River Birding and Nature Festival?  Following that event, the site was adapted to provide general information about Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge and the Friends organization and activities. In June, 2011 we made  a brand new start with a site specifically planned for the Friends of Hagerman NWR. Today we will take a look at some features on the present-day website.

The Activities Tab brings up the scheduled events at the Refuge for the given month; click on  the next month to find future events.  Online registration for activities was added in the fall of 2012, in anticipation of BirdFest Texoma. Currently, families can register online for free Youth FIRST events and find nature activities and information as well, on  the Hagerman Youth Page.  You can also obtain or renew a Friends membership online, donate and shop for Hagerman pins, hiking medallions and patches.

Under the "Refuge" Tab at the top,  you can access Visitor Information, Bird Survey Data, with both census highlights and detailed census records, Trail information, Wildlife Guides for Butterflies, Dragonflies, Birds, Shorebirds,  Songbirds, Winter Birds, Mammals, Reptiles & Amphibians, and Wildflowers; and the latest information and regulations for Hunting, Fishing and Boating  activities.

Click to the right of Visitor Information for Links to agencies for conservation, lake information, education, area attractions and more.

You can access the Featherless Flyer online, starting with the present and going back to January, 2010.  The same web page also  features "Five Years Ago in the Featherless Flyer".  Or - you can view the current Flyer and other news about the Refuge, Hunting/Fishing Boating,  and other seasonal topics on the News Page.

Under the Gallery Tab, you will find photo albums dedicated to Birds at Hagerman, Butterflies and Dragonflies, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Scenes at Hagerman, as well as Photo Club news and a Guide to Photographers that has been recently updated.  

For those interested in volunteer opportunities, you will  find Friends projects descriptions on the FOH Projects Page, under the "Friends" Tab.  You can also check out specific volunteer job descriptions  and let us know of your interests on the Contacts Page.

We do our best to stay on top of all this information for you, but please notify us promptly if you spot outdated information, broken links or any other aspect of the site that is not working properly.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How Much Rain Did We Get?

By Sue Abernathy

Are you interested in knowing exactly how much rainfall you receive at home?

Do you wonder if the amount of precipitation varies greatly across Grayson County?

Would you like to have a permanent record of the total rainfall received in a given month, for the entire year and in previous years? If so, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is for you!

CoCoRaHS is a “national grassroots, non-profit, community-based, high-density precipitation network made up of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds who take daily measurements of precipitation right in their own backyards.” The CoCoRaHS network originated at Colorado State University in 1998 with the intent of mapping and reporting intense storms. Since its inception, precipitation maps have been produced for every major storm. These maps show local weather patterns which are of great interest to scientists and the public. Today CoCoRaHS includes thousands of volunteers nationwide who are willing to spend a few minutes each day measuring and reporting precipitation.

CoCoRaHS has several goals:

1) provide accurate high-quality precipitation data on a timely basis

2) increase the density of precipitation data available throughout the country

3) encourage citizens to participate in meteorological science and heighten awareness about weather

4) provide enrichment activities and weather resources for teachers, educators and the community.

So why participate in CoCoRaHS? Precipitation is essential for life. However, it varies greatly with storm type, season and location. Data sources are few and rain gauges are far apart. Measurements using different style rain gauges are not always accurate. Participation in CoCoRaHS provides quality precipitation data which is viewable immediately in both map and table form. “By providing your daily observation, you help fill in a piece of the weather puzzle that affects many across your area in one way or another.” 

CoCoRaHS data is used by the National Weather Service, NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association), USDA, and local meteorologists. It provides a historical record of precipitation (and drought) and is used in predicting long-term weather patterns.

How can you become a CoCoRaHS volunteer? Training is provided to teach new observers how to install their rain gauge, properly measure precipitation and submit reports online. It is important that all reports be as accurate and consistent as possible. 
  • To join the CoCoRaHS network, submit an application online at Upon joining, you will receive a CoCoRaHS station ID unique to your specific rain gauge location. 
  • To complete the required training, either view the ‘Getting Started’ training slide show online or attend a local training session. 
  • Next, purchase a 4 inch diameter high capacity rain gauge, accurate to the nearest hundredth of an inch, which is available from several sources:, or your county coordinator. 
  • Install your rain gauge and begin measuring and recording daily precipitation observations online, including days with no rain. (To participate, you must have daily access to a computer.)
There are currently over 15 active CoCoRaHS participants within Grayson County. With less than an hour of training and the purchase of an approved rain gauge, you can become a CoCoRaHS observer. For more information, contact Sue Abernathy, Grayson County Coordinator via CONTACT for the Friends of Hagerman, and join the CoCoRaHS network!

NOTE: Sue Abernathy is a Grayson County Master Gardener and Texas Master Naturalist, Bluestem Chapter, and as a Friends of Hagerman volunteer, a butterfly garden supervisor and docent.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Feather Wars

Snowy Egret in Breeding Plumage at Hagerman NWR, by Jack Chiles

When you visit a National Wildlife Refuge today, you may not know that the impetus for the creation of what has become our present day refuge system  came from the world of women’s fashions.

Investigating “Feather Wars” on the web, we found this from the Smithsonian Institute:
At the turn of the last century, stylish women wore hats with the latest feather-topped design from Paris, New York, and other centers of fashion. Millinery houses in Europe and America traded internationally and indiscriminately for birds and bird feathers. The more exotic or unique the hat design and feather display, the larger the sales.
By the 1890s, women were wearing whole bodies of birds on hats and clothing. In 1886, noted ornithologist Frank Chapman counted 40 varieties of native birds, or bird parts, decorating three-fourths of the 700 ladies' hats that he had observed in New York City.
Tens of millions of birds, particularly white egrets or herons and small terns, were taken at the height of the feather trade years, from 1870 – 1920.  One auction record alone listed more than one million bird skins sold in London, from 1897 – 1911.
Especially hit by the feather trade was the Florida Everglades, where hunters sought the largest rookeries, killing adult birds and leaving the young to fend for themselves.
Plume hunting was an activity almost anyone could do if they owned a gun.  The beautiful down plumage of a Snowy Egret hen nursing her chicks was highly prized and brought the same price-per-ounce as gold.  Without alternative means of commerce of almost any kind, plume hunting became a lucrative activity for men, women, and children in both pioneer and Seminole communities, providing cash for everyday necessities.
As the fashion industry expanded its use of feathers, the scale of this cottage industry became monstrous, and spread globally.  The impact in Palm Beach County on individuals, families, and the natural environment was not reversible. For approximately fifty years, the birds were pursued to near extinction, and the phenomenon inspired some of the earliest and most critical legislation in the area of environmental protection.
Reports of these atrocities led to formation of the first Audubon and conservation societies, whose founders believed they now had enough evidence to change public opinion about hunting regulations. The social and political prominence of these individuals enabled them to promote the passage of laws that began to protect America's native wildlife
In 1896 two Boston women who had founded the Massachusetts Audubon Society, campaigned to convince prominent women that it was wrong to wear feathered or other bird related millinery, holding social events for their cause and also spearheading boycotts. They also convinced women to work with their group to promote the protection of birds.
 In 1901, William Dutcher, chairman of the American Ornithologists Union committee on bird protection traveled to Florida and assisted Florida Audubon in persuading the legislature to pass the Audubon Model Law outlawing plume hunting in the state. Knowing that the protection of Pelican Island would require more legislation, Frank Chapman, curator of the American Museum of Natural History and his fellow advocate, Dutcher went to President Theodore Roosevelt at his home in New York. The two appealed their case to Roosevelt’s conservative ethics. In 1903, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that established Pelican Island as the first federal bird reservation. This was the first time that the federal government put land aside for the sake of wildlife. 

Theodore Roosevelt set aside over 234 million acres of the country as national forests, national parks, and wildlife refuges. Most of the “Feather War” battles were conducted at the legislative level of government. Conservationists pushed legislatures to enact laws that would protect birds and thus end the feather trade. In 1911 New York passed the Audubon Plumage Bill which banned the sale of native bird plumes and closed domestic trade of feathers, in 1913 the Underwood Tariff Bill banned the import of wild bird plumes from other countries into the United States, and in 1916 the Migratory Bird Act ensured the protection of migratory birds through an agreement between the United States, Great Britain, and Canada.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

What's Up, Buttercup?

Have you ever gotten “butter” on your nose from a buttercup? Or as they are botanically named, Oenothera speciosa Nutt. Buttercups are also known as Pink evening primrose, Showy evening primrose, Mexican evening primrose, Showy primrose, Pink ladies, Pink buttercups, according to the Native Plant Information Network.

From Wikipedia, we learned that although this plant is also frequently referred to as a buttercup, it is not a true buttercup (genus Ranunculus) or even in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae.

Pink Evening Primrose at Hagerman NWR, by Kathy Whaley

The website for Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center goes on to say that while most primroses open in the evening, this plant, native over a widespread area from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, opens in the evening in the northern range but in the morning in the southern range. They could also be called “day flower” as each flower lasts only one day.

“Buttercups” are perennial; their blooms vary from palest pink, nearly white, to deep rich pinks. The flowers’ yellow pollen is the source of the “butter”. They will grow is a variety of soils but go dormant if the soil is too dry; in our area, you will note large masses of them where there are apparent low places in the fields and along roadsides.  You will see large masses of them along Refuge Road  between FM 1417 and Highway 289 while traveling to Hagerman NWR.

Birds like the seeds from pink evening primroses and the flowers offer nectar to bees and butterflies.

So "butter up"! And - as this is National Wildflower Week, watch the Friends of Hagerman Facebook Page for more wildflower photos this week.

NOTE": This Blog was originally published April 30, 2015.