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.
Save the Date! Refuge Roundup
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
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!
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:
Photo of cottonmouth by Pam Rendall-Bass
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
Register to receive email alerts for this event.
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!
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.
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.
Shop Amazon Smile to Support the Friends of Hagerman
Did 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.
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
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.
Please add email@example.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
See you at the refuge!