Out and About with Mary Anne Sohlstrom

Harney County April 2014

Did you miss the migration to Harney County/ Pacific Flyway/Malheur Wildlife Refuge? The remote southeast corner of the state, the Oregon Closed Lakes Basin is part of the Northern Great Basin eco-region. Vegetation in most of the Basin is dominated by a variety of dry sagebrush, greasewood, juniper, and grassland communities. However, despite pervasive aridity, about 500,000 acres of diverse wetland communities exist in this region.

In the spring this quiet corner of Oregon is the destination for thousands of birds, in particular Ross’s geese, Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes. At peak migration there are as many as 100,000 birds in Harney County. These repeat visitors stop over on their travel between their wintering grounds in New Mexico, Texas and the Mississippi Gulf states to their summer nesting grounds in the Arctic Circle

“Once again on my annual spring migration to greet the birds, I was delighted and entertained by the Greater Sandhill Cranes pairing off and performing their ‘mating dance’. Standing nearly four feet tall with a wing spread of six and a half feet, these magnificent birds display for the females by spreading their wings and jumping into the air with the grace of an accomplished ballerina”, says TWC Office Manager Mary Anne Sohlstrom!

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