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Refuge Bald Eagles by Bill Powell

Eyes to the Sky by Kathy Whaley

“Are there bald eagles here?” is a question heard often at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. These magnificent birds of prey are clearly a favorite of many refuge visitors whether it is their first visit or 1,000th. The answer is “yes”, there is a chance at seeing one or more eagles on the refuge any time of year if you happen to be in the right place at the right time (hints on that to come).

Texas has both non-breeding and breeding populations of bald eagles and there is considerable overlap of when and where they hang out. Eagles not here year-round usually arrive in early August, with the largest population present from early October to late May.

A typical eagle nesting landscape is forested and includes a near-by river or lake that offers areas of shallow water. This habitat provides their basic needs including fish to eat, water to drink, surrounding trees for shelter, and perches for hunting and resting. Nest construction (or adding more sticks to an existing nest) starts 1-3 months before eggs will be laid. The nest is normally built in the top quarter of the tree near the trunk where branches are thicker and stronger. Both the male and female bring sticks of various sizes that are interwoven with grasses and mosses to fill in the gaps. Grasses and other soft materials are also used to form an area in the center of the nest where the eggs will be placed for incubation. New nests are not too large for birds their size but after several years of use, it can grow to be very  dense, tall, and wide and weigh up to 1,000  pounds. A nest that is in good condition is often used and enlarged year after year.


On average, 1-3 eggs are laid, and incubation begins in December or January around Lake Texoma. Hatching occurs at around day 35 then the young generally fledge (fly from the nest) in 11 to 12 weeks. The adults continue to feed the young for another 4 to 6 weeks while they learn to hunt. When they are finally on their own, young Bald Eagles normally migrate northward out of Texas, returning by September or October. They are monogamous and are believed to mate for life; however, if one of the pair dies, the surviving bird will accept another mate. They have long lifespans and can live up to 20 years or more in the wild.

We know for certain that at least one pair of bald eagles has nested on the refuge since 2014. The tree first chosen by the pair was fairly small compared to what they normally use for nest building. The nest was built near the top of the tree and the support branches were thin. This increased the likelihood the treetop would sway violently during Texoma windstorms. In early February 2019, our fears of losing the nest came to fruition when the top 1/3 of the tree (which had already died) snapped

Refuge Eagle Nest - 2014

off during a storm. Sticks and twigs the nest had been built with were found scattered on the ground near the tree. No eggs or young were seen and based on timing, incubation was still in progress, so no hatchlings were lost. We hoped the pair would select a bigger tree and try again!

Fledgling Bald Eagles-2014

In December 2020, a couple kayaking on Big Mineral Creek reported spotting eagle activity in a location farther up the creek than the area of the first nest. Staff attempts to locate a new nest from the ground by hiking through the remote area were unsuccessful, but we felt certain that one had to be there based on sightings and how the eagles were behaving. 

In January 2021, the refuge hired a contractor for aerial hog control. Before the operation started, he was informed that an eagle nest likely existed in a specific area, and we asked that he try to locate it from the helicopter. He found the nest and was able to provide photos and a GPS location to be used for monitoring and refuge management purposes. The new nest is in a live tree around 1,200 feet from the old nest that blew down. Once again, the chosen tree is not as large as we hoped they would pick.


As they always say with real estate - location, location, location! The pair made a very wise decision choosing a tree in the middle of nowhere: far off any road or trail, extreme privacy due to the remote location, and plenty of food, water, and shelter near-by. The nesting site provides peace and quiet from frequent human disturbance that would likely occur if the nest had been located along or near a road.

Photo by Jack Chiles

The most common places eagles are seen on the refuge are Big Mineral Day Use Area, perched on poles or dead trees near the north end of Egret Road, and fishing in the lake near Wildlife Drive. Most commonly, visitors see a single eagle or a pair, but up to five birds including both adults and juveniles have been seen in one day. Using binoculars to scan shoreline trees along Lake Texoma seeking a glimpse of the bright white head and tail of an adult eagle is sometimes a successful strategy, especially after the leaves have fallen as winter approaches.

To learn more about Bald Eagles, visit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bald_Eagle/overview

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Refuge Update:

Need an outing?  Enjoy the Audio Auto Tour from the comfort of your air conditioned vehicle, and check out all of the new educational items in the Nature Nook!   The visitor center is open Monday through Saturday 9-4, Sunday 1-5.  It's a great time to visit the refuge!



There is a lot going on!

Check out our Calendar of Events

Sightings:


Wood Stork By Donnie Simmons August 30, 2022



Roseate Spoonbills by Donnie Simmons

Save the Date: Saturday, October 8th!

The Refuge Roundup!

Join us for a day of fun for the whole family! Events will include:

  • Sign up for The Big Sit Bird Count
  • Native Plant Sale while supplies last!
  • Earlybird Walk with Jack Chiles
  • Second Saturday Presentation: Daron Blackerby, Game Warden
  • Meet Jordan Foster and his Snakes on the Visitor Center Patio.


V

Photo of cottonmouth by Pam Rendall-Bass

  • Take a Tram Tour of Wildlife Drive
  • Go for a Hike with the Family, Led by Ranger Spencer Beard.
  • Enjoy a Butterfly Garden Walk with a Garden Docent
  • Observe the Experts: Monarch Tagging 
  • The Kids Will Love a Butterfly Craft with Cindy Steele
  • Many more activities for the family!
Save the date! and check the October Flyer for times and details!

The Friends of Hagerman Online Auction


Managing Your Land for Wildlife

Bluestem Master Naturalists to Offer Landowner Program

Sept 17, 2022 9:00 am to 4:30 pm

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center (Just west of Sherman)



Grayson County is growing rapidly; the population increased from 120,877 in 2010 to 135,543 in 2020, a 15% increase.  Local planners believe the pace has picked up since 2020, and we see evidence in the local construction boom.  This is good for the economy, but, unfortunately, it means we are losing habitat for wildlife.

As Master Naturalists, one of our initiatives is to educate landowners about ways in which they can preserve open space, increase habitat for wildlife, and get a property tax break at the same time. That option is a Wildlife Special Valuation. 

If you have land under an agriculture exemption, you may qualify for a Wildlife Special Valuation, a tax status that provides the same tax rate as agricultural exemptions while allowing the landowner to focus on improving habitat for wildlife, as opposed to traditional farming.  

Here’s what our program includes:

·       Morning Session:  Michael Elliott of Grayson County Appraisal District will cover the qualifications for Wildlife Special Valuations, how to apply for one, and guidelines for the required Wildlife Management Plan.

·       Afternoon Session:

o   Managing Your Land for Songbirds:  Wayne Meyer, Ph.D.

o   Managing Your Land for Pollinators:  Karen Glenn, M.S.

o   Taking a Bird Census:  Lydia Brandt, Master Naturalist

In between, enjoy touring the Butterfly Garden at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.  Please bring a sack lunch, as there are limited eating establishments nearby.

You can reserve your place through the following link:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/landowner-education-program-managing-your-land-for-wildlife-tickets-378079926237

For more information about the program, contact landownerseries@gmail.com

Friends of Hagerman NWR Annual Nature Photo Contest 


Every year in September, the Friends of Hagerman Photo Club sponsor a nature-themed photo contest.  For a small fee per photo, photographers may enter as many photos as they wish. 

All photographers are invited to participate in the contest, regardless of age or skill level.  Divisions include Beginner and Intermediate/Advanced: all photographers, including youth, are welcome!

2020 Beginner Division, Wildlife Category, Third Place, Modeling for You By Esther McNeil

Ribbons will be awarded for First, Second, and Third place in each of four categories and in both divisions (Beginner and Advanced/Intermediate). In addition, a cash prize will be awarded for First Place in each category, and the photos judged as “Best of Show” and “Youth Best in Show”. Winners will be determined by a panel of judges, who will review the submitted photos without reference to entrant name.


Winners’ photographs will be displayed at the Refuge Visitor Center and published on the Friends of Hagerman website, Facebook page and other venues. The Nature Photo Contest Committee will coordinate and conduct the contest for the Refuge and the Friends of Hagerman NWR.

  • All photos entered in the contest must have been taken within Hagerman NWR boundaries within the past five years.  
  • Entries will be accepted from September 1st through September 30, 2022.
  • Categories include: Landscapes, Flora and Macro, Artistic, and Wildlife. 

Click here for entry Instructions.

Have a look at the winners of 2020 and 2021!

Photo Club Meeting

September 17th @ 1:00 in the Visitor Center

Please join us at the Visitor Center on Saturday September 17 for our bi-monthly meeting. Our guest Speaker will be John Spears of Quin Studios who will be presenting on the topic of Shooting Landscapes. He will be including many of his images taken in the National Park System. John will bring a wealth of knowledge from his 45 years of being a professional photographer. As always, guests and visitors are always welcome to the meeting. Hope to see you there.


The World’s Largest Biodiversity-Related Science Project is Coming to Hagerman NWR, and You Can Help! 


Join this important project by registering below.  You will be able to choose your preferred time slot. Exact location within the refuge TBA.

Join Us At Our Sunrise Bird Count: The Little Sit

Photo by Melinda Hill


Map to Pad H   GPS Coordinates: 33.734961, -96.780582



Please register so we may inform you of changes:

Early Birding with Jack Chiles

Master Naturalist Jack Chiles will lead our Early Birding event, weather permitting. Bring binoculars or borrow ours.  Meet at the Visitor Center and return in time for the Second Saturday program.

Free and open to the public; funded by Donations and powered by Volunteers.


Register to receive email alerts for this event.

Second Saturday:

Saturday, September 10, 2022  at 10:00 AM in the Visitor Center 

Playing ‘Possum: Learning to Love Our Only North American Marsupial with Jessica Healy

Opossums may look like giant rats, but they are actually the only marsupial native to North America, raising their babies in a pouch like kangaroos. They have a mouthful of sharp teeth, but will play dead instead of biting back when attacked. Come hear Dr. Jessica Healy talk about the behavior and biology of this misunderstood but marvelous mammal!

                               

Dr. Jessica Healy, PhD is an Associate Professor of Biology at Austin College in Sherman, TX. Originally from Iowa, Dr. Healy attended Colorado State University for graduate school, receiving a PhD in Zoology in 2010. Dr. Healy primarily studies the physiological ecology of hibernating species like ground squirrels, but as a Mammalogist has an interest in the natural history and ecology of all mammals.


Future Programs

The Refuge Rocks! Programs for Children

    • October 15, 2022
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • The Visitor Center
    • 24
    Register

    As the sun sets at the refuge, night creatures awaken! Nighttime at the refuge is teeming with activity. Humans are not adapted for life in the total darkness, but many animals are! Join us for a “not so dark” kid friendly “Creatures of the Night” event. Learn about nighttime animals, hear a story about some nocturnal animals, and take a short walk in the woods with us to see where creatures of the night make their homes. We'll also play wildlife games to discover some of the unique adaptations that help nocturnal animals to navigate, hunt, and survive in the dark. Come out to our October Refuge Rocks program to learn lots of interesting facts about our nocturnal friends here at the refuge. This free nature activity program is for youth ages 5-10.

         


Puddles' Craft Corner

The Magnificent Monarch Migration!

By Cindy Steele, Master Naturalist


Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner! If you have ever seen monarch butterflies in our area as they pass through North Texas on their yearly migration, then you have witnessed a very special yearly event!

Monarchs are probably the best-known butterflies in North America. Seven U.S. states list the monarch as their official state insect or butterfly.

September marks the time that the monarchs travel thousands of miles on their fall migration to spend the winter in Mexico. We are so lucky to live right in the middle of one of their largest migration paths, so we’re sitting right where we can witness this amazing event that happens twice each year! Since it’s almost time to start looking for them as they pass through our area, let’s learn a little bit about the magnificent monarchs and make a fun...

Come, Take a Tour on the Wildlife Explorer!

Enjoy a ninety minute tram tour of Wildlife Drive aboard our open-air Wildlife Explorer.  Learn about the fascinating history of the displaced town of Hagerman while watching for an abundance of wildlife. 

  • Lots of stops for bird-watching and photography.   
  • Guided tours are weather permitting and seating is limited. 
  • Standbys are accepted if space permits. 
  • Recommended for age 6 - adult. 
  • Bring your binoculars or borrow ours.
  • Meet at the visitor center 15 minutes before departure. 
  • Free, funded by donations and powered by volunteers.

Register for a Tram Tour Today!


Birding with Jack

Updated, Weekly Census Results

By Master Naturalist Jack Chiles, Mike Petrick and

Dr. Wayne Meyer (Pictured Right)


Each Tuesday a team of experienced birders, including Master Naturalist Jack Chiles, traverse 35 miles of refuge roads and hiking trails, documenting every bird they encounter. This Bird Census is reported to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology for use in research, and each week we will bring you a link to their actual bird count, and a summary of their adventures.

 See Jack's notes and latest  Census Results       

Shop Amazon Smile to Support the Friends of Hagerman

Amazon SmileDid you know that you can support the Friends of Hagerman while shopping on Amazon? If you shop on Amazon using this Amazon Smile link, the Friends will receive 0.5% of eligible purchases. Simply go to smile.amazon.com and sign in with your Amazon account. Under "Your Account" select "Change your Amazon Smile Charity" and enter "Friends of Hagerman" in the charity search box. Once your results appear, select the Friends of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge Foundation. Every time you make a purchase on Amazon Smile, the Friends will get a donation. Thanks for helping us make Hagerman a great wildlife refuge!

Kroger: Stop by the customer service desk at Kroger and link your Kroger Card to the Friends of Hagerman: the Friends will get rewards for every dollar you spend, at no cost to you.


Thank You

To Our Contributors:

Jack Chiles, Cindy Steele, Kathy Whaley, Pam Rendall-Bass, Donnie Simmons, Bill Powell, Esther McNeil, Melinda Hill


Refuge Manager: Kathy Whaley

Deputy Refuge Manager: Paul Balkenbush

Visitor Services Manager: Spencer Beard 

Friends of Hagerman NWR Foundation

6465 Refuge Road, Sherman, TX 75092

Phone: 903-786-2826

Contact Us  

friendsofhagerman.com

www.facebook.com/FOHNWR


Friends of Hagerman NWR

The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year, drive on any road unless gated.

Admission to the refuge, parking and most events/activities are funded by donations and powered by volunteers. 

6465 Refuge Road

Sherman, TX 75092

Contact Us

Shop at Amazon Smile--Friends Get Rewards! 

      

Please add friendsofhagerman@gmail.com to your contacts to ensure delivery of registration confirmations, account information and the Featherless Flyer

Special thanks to Nancy Miller for the amazing photo of the Visitor Center 

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