Newspaper Archive of
The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
March 28, 2012     The New Era Paper
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March 28, 2012

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Page 12 1 , "r,, - March 28, 2012 Malheur area off00.00rs incr00;dibl00; bird-watching Spring migration brings thou- sands of birds to Harney County and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. I left the house at 5:20 a.m., heading for Bums with high ex- pectations of seeing lots of snow geese, sandhill cranes and many more birds. Twelve hours and 45 species later I arrived home, not disappointed. I took my solo birding trip last week. As I made my way south from Pdneville via the George Mil- lican Road to Highway 20, a bright crescent moon rose to my left in the east. When ! reached Highway 20 and headed east, I needed only to look out the windshield to see it. Of course when the sun rose, it re- placed thebright moon in the wind- shield. I was a bit concerned when I arrived in Bums around 8 a.m. with OUTDOORS. Scott Staats the temperature hovering around 16 degrees. No worries however, as birds don't mind the cold weather and neither do birders in warm cars. Some of the flooded fields did have a thin coating of ice but most of the waterfowl maintained open water by constantly swimming. 99 DODGE ROADTREK  03 FORD F250SUPER POPULAR 190 H DUTY SUPER CAB WOWl What a neat RV Fully E, XLT Pickup 4D 8fl Powerslroke self contained, generator M Need a diesel work tmck? Here ff tool Take o hip & save al m h...a rdlle rough on lhe edges, but the pump! $1ock#8077 I ns & drives steal Slock#8029 THE 00If00E00E00E 1 I 04 CHEVROLET U CLASSIC SEDAN Hi IB 4D Nice, clean carl m Price fight loaded w/ l options. Stock#B014 1 3195 S. SANTIAM HWY, LEBANON, OR 97355 1 541"258"2175 1 IDLR # 3102) MON'FRI: 8:AM TO 6:PM ] SAT: 9:AM TO 6:PM ] SUN: 9:AM TO 5:PM ! -- I ...... -, -   :'':.. "  Olin gEE 6fiLE00i FOR ALL YOUR SPORTING GOOD NEEDS 610 MAIN STREET 1 541.367;5544 1 HOURS: MAN,, SAT. 9 - 6 I SUN. 10 - 4 flHHUl()T)O) SURPLUS 7,G2X)4- sgg,o0 SURPLUS ~ 440 ROUND CANS (880 ROUND CASE, $188.00) WOLF LS00X54 5go RD [lliE- S21g,l]I] IIHBI[Illl F.il5lE 2Z LB 5OORD BRI[K- S14.51] 6 PACK B" FILLET KNIFE- 00]4.g9 LONE WOLF KNIVES OWNED BY BENCHMADE "NEW ITEM" NEOPRENE BOOTS- MENS I LADIES SFRVUS I RA.GER Snow geese flock in a meadow in the Harney Basin outside Burns. The first birds l saw were the snow geese, which are the main attraction for most birders. Flocks numbering in the hundreds flew overhead and literally thousands were in some of the fields. They can turn fields, and the sky, into a sea of white. These geese stop off in the Har- ney basin on their migration north to Canada, Alaska and even Rus- sia. Their numbers are estimated at 100,000 to 300,000. Also in the mix are Ross's Geese, Canada Gee.se and Greater White-fronted Geese. There are also estimates of over two million ducks and several thousand Sandhill Cranes that can be seen during spring migration. The sandhills were the next birds that made me pull over and stare in awe. In one field alone I counted between 400 and 500 of these long-legged, long necked her- on-like birds that have a wingspan of 6 to 7 feet and stand 4 feet tall. They fed like hungry cattle. I'm not sure if the geese feel safer around these colossal cranes but I noticed when they moved the geese would follow and start feeding around them again. The scene re- minded me of the large, protective guard dogs watching over a herd of sheep. The HarneY Basin is located on the Pacific Flyway - one of four major north-south migratory routes (Pacific, Central, Mississippi, and Atlantic fiyways) in North America. The Pacific Flyway extends from Alaska/Siberia to Patagonia. Each year migratory birds travel some or all of this distance in spring and in fall, following food sources, head- ing to breeding grounds or traveling to overwintering sites. After birding around the out- skirts of Bums, I headed for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge just south of town. The refuge spans an area about 40 miles long and 40 miles wide, covering over 187,000 acres of habitat which includes wet- lands, riparian areas, meadows and uplands. Over 320 species of birds and 58 species of mammals have been observed there, including over 130 species of birds that nest on the refuge. To reach th refuge, take High- way 205 south from Bums and fol- low the signs. The visitor center is open every day of the week from 8:00 to 4:00. The refuge and mu- seum are open daily from dawn to Photo by Scott Staats dusk. Be sure to bring your binocu- lars, spotting scope and bird books. Check out the postings at the visitor center for recent bird sightings. The refuge was established on Aug, 18, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt as the Lake Malheur Reservation. It was the 19th of 51 wildlife refuges created by Roosevelt during his tenure as president and, at the time, was the third refuge in Oregon and one of only six refuges west of the Mis- sissippi. The refuge name was offi- cially changed to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 1940. Be sure to start from Burns with a full tank of gas. The only other reliable place to fill up is at The Narrows. The refuge headquar- ters is a good place to look for birds. Look for waterfowl in the small pond near the visitor center. Check out the abandoned lookout tower - a pair of great-horned owls nest in it each year. I spotted one bird sitting inside the tower where the stairs enter. They can also be seen sometimes sitting in one of the open windows. Some'of the best birding on the refuge can be done along the 42- mile self-guided Center Patrol Road. Called the Blitzen Valley Auto Tour Route, interpretive guides for it can be picked up at the visitor center for free. Starting at the refuge head- See Birds, page 13 Concealed Handgun License Class Held locally in Sweet Home. We license for Oregon, Utah, Arizona Carry legally concealed in 36 states! Questions Please Call: (541) 570-0345 Friday April 13th -Bpm Sweet Home Funeral Chapel 00ncealed