Posted by: atowhee | August 10, 2013


For the past few years I’ve been leading birding field trips to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. In the spring we always see more than 100 species. On our record trip just two months ago we broke 140. One reason birding Malheur is so much fun and so productive: we can stay at the Malheur Field Station which is within the boundary of the wildlife refuge. Birding is just outside the door: Common Nighthawks sleeping on the fence posts, nesting Kestrel and Say’s Phoebe, Willet overhead, Sage Thrasher along the road, Yellow-headed Blackbirds and Western Kingbirds in the Russian olives. White-faced Ibis in lines across the sky. Franklin’s Gulls commuting to their next appointment. California Quail scurrying across the yards and into the sage. Just standing around the parking lot you can pick up 20 bird species. Not to mention the least chipmunk, the Nuttall’s cottontail, the coyote and the various other critters that share the field station with the hominids.
The Field Station is run on a shoestring by a non-profit foundation specifically aimed at keeping it viable for birders and other visitors. Without it you have to stay at Frenchglen or Burns unless you have an RV. If you’ve stayed at the Field Station and enjoyed it, please help.
There are only 7,000 people in huge Harney County so if the Field Station is to survive it must get help from those of us living outside the area. There may be 170-thousand cows in Harney but they won’t lift a tail to help with this. Thanks for your consideration.

Is Malheur Field Station Over The Hump?

To friends and family of the Malheur Field Station, from Alan Contreras, president of the station’s parent Great Basin Society, greetings.

As you know, the Station has had significant success in recent years in obtaining grants to improve our facilities. In addition, our winter fundraising drive has been consistently solid and the unique Big Sit raised over $16,000 in May, 2013. What does “raised” mean? It means that you, who believe in the station’s mission, made it happen.

What has your support meant? New roofs. Air conditioning. Modernized wastewater systems. Improved beds. New staff in the office and on the grounds. Repairs getting made. Your efforts allow us to say that the station will have a balanced operating budget in 2014 and for the next few years. That’s news.

But. We have one more thing that must be done – once – to allow the station to get “over the hump” and operate with a consistently positive cash balance. We need to pay off the existing carryover debt that has been hanging over the station’s head. Our lawyer says we need to pay it off. Our financial advisor says we need to pay it off. Our granting agencies would be very pleased if we paid it off. So would potential future grant-makers.

The board knows that 2013 is the now-or-never year to clear the station’s debt so that we can continue to offer you the unique housing and programmatic offerings of the station. We can’t wait any longer.

How much is our rolling debt? About $40,000. Sounds like a lot. But. The station has many friends. If every OBOL subscriber gave $40.00 this coming week, we’d retire the debt by Friday. If each member of the Oregon Birding Association gave $100, we’d be halfway there. It’s not that hard.

This has to be done to keep the station operating. Our unique status as a facility sitting on federal land means we can’t borrow against the value of the buildings to pay off the debt – it has to be real money.

This one-time request is intended to pay off back debts. However, we will need to continue calling upon our friends for help in sustaining the operation going forward. Many of you have responded generously to our year-end appeals and Big Sit May fundraiser to promote the fiscal health of the Field Station—contributing toward ongoing operational expenses, providing matching funds to attract grants, carrying out deferred maintenance, and so forth. That needs to continue.

The members of the Board of Directors will make it easier for you. We will donate $5,000 to prime the pump. So suddenly it’s $35,000 we need. It’s that easy for you to help, too.

Is the station over the hump? With your help, it will be. To survive, it must be. Send your donations to:

We’ll announce the results of this one-time request at the station’s annual open-house meeting on Saturday, September 27 at Malheur. We’ll be open. Be there.

Thanks.– Alan Contreras
Eugene, Oregon.
Here’s a little gallery just to remind of the joys of Malheur birding:black ternP1610069boblink crop (1280x853)

yellow-headed blackbird (10 crop) (1280x854)coni--X




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