Thursday, June 30, 2016

Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks

On Sunday, July 24, Invasive Species will be the topic for a special presentation by Pathways Summer Intern at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Daniel Jackson.  The program will begin at 3 pm in the Meeting Room of the Refuge Visitor Center and will be open to the public, free of charge. Jackson says, 

"Invasive species have been trying to get a foothold in many areas of Texas as well as across the U.S., some have been very successful in transforming the landscape, others have wiped out native species. Learn what we have near/on the refuge, native vs. non-native species, what FWS is currently fighting against and what can be done to help at the individual level."

Everybody has a role to play in stopping the advance of invasive species – those plants, animals and microorganisms that are not native to a particular area and wreak havoc outside their normal range.

A new campaign called PlayCleanGo: Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks is a clear call to action to people who are regularly outdoors, whether working or recreating. PlayCleanGo complements the ongoing Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers campaign.

Whether walking, hiking, running, biking, or riding your horse or OHV, it's important to make sure you don't accidently move invasive species from place to place. Here are a few steps you can take to help prevent the spread of invasive species.

1. Come clean

Before leaving home, take a little time to inspect and remove dirt, plants, and bugs from clothing, boots, gear, pets, and vehicles.

2. Use only local or certified firewood when camping

Whether you use a tent, RV, or nothing but the clear blue sky, it's important to not accidently move invasive species from place to place, particularly in firewood. Before camping, check for any firewood restrictions at your intended campsite. Shop ahead of time to locate a source of firewood near your campsite. Burn all of the wood you bring or leave it with the campsite host.

3. Use weed-free or certified hay

When horseback riding, use weed-free or certified hay. When using hay for other purposes and weed-free hay is not available, use straw because it is less likely to carry weed seeds.

4. Stay on designated trails

Stay on the designated trail when walking, hiking, running, biking, or riding your horse or OHV.

5. Leave clean

Before leaving, inspect your belongings and remove any dirt, plants, or bugs. Invasive plant seeds can be stuck on you, your pets, or equipment. Likewise, pests that attack trees can hide in firewood that you bring home. Weed seeds in infested hay can be blown offsite as you move down the road or left behind in animal waste.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cool It!

In the good old summertime - think shade trees, cold drinks, swimming pools, air conditioning, all ways for us to cool it.  But what about the animals?

No Sweat: According to Smithsonian Magazine, humans, higher primates, horses, and some dogs who sweat from their paws, are the only animals who can cool down by means of perspiration.

Straight Poop:  Some species of storks and vultures defecate on their legs, creating a sort of evaporative cooler that carries heat away and lowers their body temperature.

Shake or Bake:  Other birds such as pelicans, herons, doves, owls, quail, and nighthawks vibrate muscles and bones in their throat to increase cooling evaporation through the throat membranes.  This is called ‘gular fluttering.”

The Ears Have It:  Rabbits and elephants regulate temperature with their ears; rabbits can constrict or dilate blood vessels in their ears to encourage heat loss or preserve heat.  Elephants can fan themselves with their large ears, at the same time cooling the blood flowing through the ears.

Spa Treatment:  Wallowing in mud helps cool pigs, hippos, boars, and buffalo; as the mud slowly dries it cools by evaporation.

Sleep It Off:  Animals can slow their metabolism to get through extreme heat and times of scarce food through the process of estivation.

Pant, Pant, Pant:  Not only dogs but also birds may pant to expel hot air and draw cooler air into the lungs as quickly as possible to lower body temperature.

Got It Made in the Shade:  Like humans, animals can avoid overheating by retreating to shady areas.

Shedding:  According to the Illinois Extension Service, in springtime, hormones cause once dense coats to fall out gradually, until a lighter summer coat is in place

Wet 'n’ Wild: All types of animals need water for hydration and many cool off by taking a dip. You can provide ground level water containers for amphibians such as turtles, toads and frogs, and bird baths for your backyard feathered friends.

See how many of these means of cooling it you can observe on your next visit to Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Look Up. That Bird Was Probably at a Wildlife Refuge

Owl Walk at HNWR, March, 2015

By Cynthia Martinez
Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System

Well-known birder and author Kenn Kaufman said on Facebook, “National wildlife refuges protect some of the most amazing habitats for birds and other wildlife in the USA. These public lands represent a treasure for all Americans.”

I wholeheartedly agree.
Wintering Geese at HNWR, by Bill Powell

Pick up any birding magazine or guide, and you’re sure to see so many references to wildlife refuges that you will lose count. We all know the story of the brown pelican whose protection launched the National Wildlife Refuge System in 1903 with the establishment in Florida of Pelican Island bird reservation – now known as a national wildlife refuge. More than 200 refuges have been established for migratory birds.

In our 113-year history, the National Wildlife Refuge System has made huge strides on behalf of migratory bird conservation. Not only do millions of migratory birds find homes among the National Wildlife Refuge System’s stunning array of marshes, wetlands, deserts, forests, great rivers and small prairies. But they also find a home in the urban areas served by wildlife refuges. Not enough urban residents know that.

The Urban Bird Treaty program has helped make a difference. Cities today are filled with hawks, osprey, songbirds and more.

Now let’s teach kids and families in big and small cities that when we talk about migratory bird flyways, those are not far off places. Flyways include places where millions of people live, city neighborhoods where people can see a breathtaking variety of birds. With effective communications, city residents will recognize that they can go to a nearby refuge to learn more about helping bird populations.

Feather Facts Booth at Geese By Golly, December, 2015, at HNWR, by Bill Powell
The Refuge System has been crucial in nurturing migratory bird species. State-of-the-art waterfowl management is practiced on thousands of waterfowl protection areas and hundreds of wildlife refuges. We’ve brought birds back to their historic ranges, increased populations, given visitors sights that they’ll travel hundreds of miles to see – and helped sustain the economies of communities where birding is a passion.

Pintails at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, by Dick Malnory
Fewer people know that our federal wildlife officers are among migratory birds’ best friends. They regulate migratory bird take and possession limits under international treaties like the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. They regulate hunting license capability to ensure that proper limits are met on particular migratory bird species. And they ensure that migratory birds have safe places to rest during non-hunting seasons as they work closely with sportsmen’s groups, tribal law enforcement, and state agencies.

Americans are learning that when they see birds in their communities, vast flocks on the wing, even some hummingbirds at their feeders, they have national wildlife refuges to thank. So, when you look up and experience the magnificence of a bird in flight, you might wonder which national wildlife refuge provided benefit to that bird.

Painted Bunting at HNWR by Brad Imhoff

From USFWS Refuge Friends Newswire

For more information about birds at Hagerman NWR, see and

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Dickcissel

One of the most photographed birds at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in the past few weeks is the Dickcissel.  As many as 115 were reported on the Tuesday Bird Census at the Refuge, on May 10, 2016.

Photo, Singing Dickcissel by Ken Morton

Here is a description of the bird, from Cornell:    
A sparrow-like bird of the prairie grasslands of the United States, the Dickcissel congregates in huge flocks in migration and on its tropical grassland wintering grounds. The breeding male is colored like a tiny meadowlark, with a black "V" on a yellow chest.

According to Audubon, the Dickcissel is a member of the Cardinal family.  

Dickcissels migrate in large flocks. At Hagerman and other places in the summer breeding range as shown in the map from Cornell,

“…the male Dickcissels sometimes seem to sing their name from every wire, fence post, or weed stalk in prairie or farming country.  Click this link to hear the song:  

The Dickcissel makes a nest in thick grasses or tree saplings, elevated somewhat about ground level.  The female lays 3 -6 pale blue eggs.

Dickcissels are frequently seen perched on a stick to pluck seed, but they also feed on seed on the ground and insects.
Photo by George Cooper

Thursday, June 2, 2016

June Activities at Hagerman NWR

YOUTH FIRST—Saturday, June 4, 2016—“Ants in Your Pants”
Ants!  Who invited them to the picnic?  Ants can communicate and cooperate by using chemicals that can alert others to danger or lead them to a promising food source.  “Ants in Your Pants” will be presented at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, June 4, 2016, from 10: 00-11:30 am. Children will learn about one of our hardest working insects!
Youth First programs are free and open to children from ages 4-12.  Children ages 4-7 will meet with Martha Coppedge and Holly Neal in the  Visitor Center Meeting Room and are to be accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult.  Children  who are ages 8-12 should be brought to the Friends of Hagerman building where their program will be led by Linda Vandergriff Thoms and Cindy Steele. They will be walked back to the Visitor Center at the end of the session.
            Please  register children to ensure that enough materials are on hand for each child. Registration is still open and you may register online  as a Friends member, or as a guest.  (If you choose to become a member, please do so before starting the registration process.)  Children may also be registered by simply calling the refuge at 903-786-2826.  Registration deadline is Thursday, June 2, 2016, at 4:00pm.


The Bluestem Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists are providing a free one-day Nature O’logy Camp on Tuesday, June 7, 2016, from 8am to 4:30 pm.  Participants are invited to come explore the wild side of nature with certified Texas Master Naturalists learning about Birds, Butterflies, Fossils, Hiking and the principal of Leaving No Trace Behind, Nature Art, Ponds, Fish, Prairies and Water Cycles. 
The Nature O’logy Camp is open only to children ages 10-11 and registration is limited to 50 students.  Registration forms can be obtained by email.   The camp is being sponsored by Bluestem Chapter of Texas Master Naturalist, Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Friends of Hagerman, and Twin Oaks Nursery.

GUIDED BIRD WALK--Saturday, June 11, 2016

Join Dr. Wayne Meyer on Saturday, June 11, 2016, from 8:00-9:30 am for a guided bird walk on one of the trails at Hagerman NWR.  Meet at the Visitor Center at 8:00 am.  Bring your binoculars or borrow ours.  Field guides and cameras are welcome.  You will return in time for the Second Saturday presentation.

SECOND SATURDAY—Saturday, June 11, 2016—“Taming the Raging Red - Building the Denison Dam”

In the past year, the Texoma area has focused on Denison Dam and lake flooding.  Have you ever wondered about when/how/why this dam was built?  On Saturday, June 11, 2016, from 10-11:30am Hagerman NWR will present the program “Building the Denison Dam.”  The speaker will be Gene Lenore who will present his documentary film “Denison Dam-Taming the Raging Red.” 
Premiering in October 2014 at the Rialto Theater in Denison, the documentary details the amazing history behind the construction of Denison Dam and the creation of Lake Texoma.  Following the film, Gene will explain how he was able to pull together archival footage for the production fo the film.
Gene Lenore, an award-winning journalist and broadcaster, holds a journalism degree from East Texas State University, now Texas A and M Commerce.   He worked as a reporter and editor on Texas newspapers. before joining WFAA-TV in Dallas as a writer/photographer.
            Gene entered the television news field as a writer/photographer at WFAA-TV in Dallas. Over the course of his broadcast career, he has served in the capacities of news director, news anchor, reporter, producer, assignments editor and public affairs producer and host.  Gene has also been a news writer for Voice of America and National Public Radio in Washington, DC.
Gene worked for a number of media outlets in the Sherman/Denison area including KIKM Radio, the Denison Herald, KTEN –TV and KXII – TV where he served as news director and anchor. In the late 1980s, he established a publishing company in Sherman that produced several local, regional and national publications.
Gene created a video production company, now operating as Gene Lenore Productions.  The company has produced several award winning videos. The company won a prestigious Telly Award for a DVD produced for Sherman High School.
            Working as a freelance television scriptwriter with Fiveson Entertainment he wrote or co-wrote a number of television documentaries for the Smithsonian Channel.

BUTTERFLY GARDEN WALK—Saturday, June 18, 2016

            Cross paths with the caterpillars and butterflies at Hagerman’s Butterfly Garden on Saturday, June 18, 2016, from 10:00-11:30 am.   Stroll through our garden.  Our garden docents will be on hand to help you identify native Texas plants and the butterflies they attract.  Bring your cameras to record your sightings.

FRIENDS OF HAGERMAN FUNDRAISER—Saturday, June 18 & Sunday, June 19, 2016
           CHILI'S (Sherman, Texas location only) is holding a “Give Back” event for the Friends of Hagerman to help them in their ongoing educational programs and facilities upgrades at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.  The restaurant will donate 15% of the event day sales to Friends of Hagerman.  The event will be held on Saturday, June 18 from 10:45 am to 11 pm and Sunday from 10:45 am to 10 pm.  Diners will need to mention or present the flyer for this event.  For more information on this event, go to

TRAM TOURS—Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 pm - If the lake level permits!! Tram tours have been off an on all this year due to repeated flooding of Wildlife Drive and pad roads at the Refuge.  Call to inquire about registering for an open air guided tram tour aboard our all-electric Carlos and Eulalia Cardinal Express.  The 60-90 minute tours along Wildlife Drive at Hagerman NWR will be guided by one of our knowledgeable tour guides.   Tours are offered at 2:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting.  The tours are free but donations will be accepted. 
Seating is limited.  Standbys may be accepted on weekends if space is available. To register for the tours, call 903-786-2826.  To make your reservation or to cancel, please speak to a volunteer from 9 am to 4 pm on Monday to Saturday or from 1-5 pm on Sunday.  No dogs other than service animals are allowed aboard the tram.

            Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is located at 6465 Refuge Road, Sherman, Texas.  The Refuge Office is open Monday thru Friday from 7:30 am – 4 pm and Senior and Access passes are available during those hours.   The Visitor Center hours are 9am-4pm Monday through Saturday and from 1-5 pm on Sundays.  The Office and Visitor Center is closed on all Federal Holidays.  The Refuge lands are open daily from sunrise to sunset.  Areas may be temporarily closed for specific uses.  Please respect the signs.