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The 1,000 Hours Outside Challenge

By Cassidie Hull, Master Naturalist

Hiking Meadow Pond Trail

Could the children in your life  spend 1000 Hours Outside, in nature, and away from TV, computers and video games?  Does that sound like a lot?  consider this: kids on average spend 6 or more hours per day in front of a screen. Too much screen time can lead to behavior problems, trouble falling asleep, and less time for play and creativity.

Outdoor activities are always fun to do! We are so fortunate to live near Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, where the whole family can take a hike, have a picnic, explore the butterfly garden and enjoy birding, fishing, and so many events sponsored by the Friends of Hagerman NWR!  It is definitely an inexpensive place to have an adventure. 

Common concerns voiced about the challenge include: “I could never do that by myself or with my family, it’s too much”. Trust me: it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Full-day, big adventures at beautiful parks and refuges are so much fun, but you don’t have to go on an adventure to include more outside time in your day. Dinner outside, nice afternoon walks, backyard bird watching, painting nature scenes, tree climbing, frog collecting, puddle jumping and creek hiking: the list of fun, easy outdoor activities is endless. While technology has done amazing things for us it has also taken away so many of these and other beneficial activities in nature.

When beginning the challenge, it can be helpful to use a calendar or a notebook to track your progress in incorporating more outside time for your family. I like to use the calendar: it helps to schedule our outdoorsy plans around our other activities. It’s impressive to see our improvements and how a little time each day really adds up.

Some things that my two little ones (both under 2 years old) like to do are hiking, finding cool rocks, competing to find the biggest leaf, playing tag, and sometimes they just play outside while I sit and watch them. Of course, they love going to Hagerman, and it’s great to be able to have an outing and be home by naptime. Imagination playing outside is probably my toddler's favorite thing to do, she can bring a toy outside if she likes or just make up a game. My 10 month old spends a lot of time sitting on a blanket, playing in her jumper or in a carrier. She loves being outside! I 

can really tell the difference when we play outside versus days we stay in.

Getting outside is so easy and good for you and your family. If you think the 1000 hour Challenge is too much for you, try an hour a day. Any amount of time outside is beneficial. Even just sitting outside, breathing in the fresh air counts. Being with nature never has to be serious and is good for all ages. Being outside has been proven to help with mental and physical health, improve sleep, reduce stress, and can help you connect with yourself or others. So go outside, smell the flowers, and jump in the puddles! Take a break from the hustle and bustle of life and get closer with nature. You never know what you may discover!


Refuge Update:

The visitor center is open Monday through Saturday 9-4, Sunday 1-5.  It's a great time to visit the refuge!

Recent Sightings:

Geese by Addison Sato (Youth)

May be an image of bird and nature

Western Meadowlark

by Mike Petrick

Wilson's Snipe by Jack Chiles



See our 

Calendar of Events 

for more!

Sparrows of Hagerman – Part III

By Laurie Sheppard

Two of the more difficult sparrows to see in winter at Hagerman NWR are Swamp Sparrows and Vesper Sparrows. Each can be found in small numbers in their favored habitat, but unlike the sparrows that feed along the roadside edges, they rarely pop out in the open and invite inspection.

Swamp Sparrows are an eastern species that breeds primarily in Canada and the northern United States, from the Great Lakes states eastward. Grayson County is well within their normal winter range, and they are frequently seen during the weekly bird census. While some sparrow species have bold, distinctive coloring, Swamp Sparrows have a neutral palette that allows them to blend into their favored habitat. As their name implies, they are typically found near water – often shallow wetlands – where they search for seeds and small invertebrates along the soggy edges. 

Swamp Sparrow by Laurie Sheppard

In winter, 85% of their diet is plant matter, but that ratio flips toward insects and insect larvae when they are breeding. Swamp Sparrows are well adapted to their environment, with longer legs than most sparrow species and the ability to navigate dense cover by running along the ground or climbing through reeds. When disturbed, they often stay hidden, and even when flushed, rarely fly far. Their overall shape is similar to a Song Sparrow, but they lack the bold striping on their chest and have a warm, buffy wash on their flanks. A rusty crown and wings may also help with identifying these winter visitors.

Vesper Sparrow by Laurie Sheppard

Vesper Sparrows are grassland birds and are found throughout most of the United States at different times of the year. Their markings are similar to a Savannah Sparrow’s, but they are larger and have a white eyering. While Savannah Sparrows have a short tail, Vesper Sparrows have a long, notched tail with white outer tail feathers, visible only when they fly. They spend most of their lives on the ground, where they eat seeds and small insects which they find by scratching the ground with their feet. They may react to threats by running through the grass rather than flying away. During the breeding season, Vesper Sparrows

weave together a shallow cup of grasses, sedges, mosses, and strips of bark in a shallow depression on the ground as their nest. Their numbers have dropped by more than 30% since 1970, and Vesper Sparrows are listed as threatened or endangered in several states. These declines likely stem from loss of their grassland habitat, either from building, reforesting, or changes in seasonal mowing and haying.

You can learn more about our wintering sparrow species at www.allaboutbirds.org.


Were YOU There?

All are welcome as a participant or a volunteer--A fun time is had by all!

The February Little Sit

Photo by Laurie Sheppard

February Refuge Rocks:


Bird Walk with Jack Chiles

The Friends of Hagerman NWR Annual Meeting

Sunday, March 19th, 2023 at 2:00 in the Visitor Center

The public is invited to attend The Friends of Hagerman annual meeting. The Board of Directors will present their activities and accomplishments of the past year, and board members beginning new terms will be elected.

Spring Break Activities on March 14th and 16th

Registration not necessary for this "come and go" event!

FOH NWR Nature Photography Club

Next Event


(Raul Rivero)

Photo Club Meeting: Where to find your inspiration with Raul Rivero

Saturday, March 18, 2023 at 1:00 PM in the Visitor Center

Raul Rivero was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1968. At a very young age, he moved to Mexico City where he grew up, studied, worked, and got married. Immediately after high school, he started working at the family advertising agency. In 1988 he got a part-time job at the Mexican Film Institute as a CGI artist and at the Consumer institute where he created computer graphics and animation for television shows. After that, he worked in different television networks where he participated in the creation of visual content for television shows and social media sites. As a freelancer, he also created digital visual content for magazines, retail stores, and plays. In 2016 he decided to move back to Texas and establish his new home in Allen, where he works as a freelance commercial and portrait photographer. Collin Heritage is Raul's personal project, a heartfelt homage to all the historic and emblematic places in Collin County, Texas. Raul is an experienced and versatile photographer, videographer and digital content creator. You can see Raul's photography at www.raulriverophotography.com.

Upcoming Events

Photo Club Field Trip: Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

April 22, 2023, 6:30 AM at Blackland Prairie Raptor Center 

$25 for Members, $40 for Non-Members. Registration fees will be given to the raptor center.

Photo Club Meeting: Night Photography with Carey Stinson

May 20, 2023, 1:00 PM at Hagerman NWR Visitor Center

Photo Club Meeting: Guest Speaker Murali Hanabe

July 15, 2023, 1:00 PM at Hagerman NWR Visitor Center

All Upcoming Events

The Little Sit

Sunrise Bird Count

The March Little Sit has moved to Tern Road Due to flooding on Bennett Lane

Google Map

Apple Map

Come and learn how to identify the birds of North Texas while enjoying the beautiful sunrise over Lake Texoma! Modeled after Cornell's national "Big Sit" event, a group of dedicated birders invite you to join them at sunrise to conduct a bird count as multiple species fly to the water and the surrounding land to feed.  Leaders will bring spotting scopes and will provide tips for identification of the many species you will see.

This event lasts a couple of hours, but all are welcome to come and go as they please. Participants are advised to bring a chair, binoculars and water. 

The First Saturday of every month, beginning 30 minutes before sunrise.

Location: H Pad, Sadler, Texas 76264 (H Pad is in Sadler, but it is part of the refuge) GPS Coordinates: 33.734961, -96.780582

Please register (optional) so we may inform you of unexpected changes:

Photo by Laurie Sheppard

Early Bird Walk 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.

Please Register (Optional) so we may inform you via email of unforseen changes/cancellations.

Photo by Jack Chiles

Second Saturday: Tornadoes

Saturday, March 11, 2023 at 10:00 in the Visitor Center, Following the Bird Walk

Photo by Laurie Sheppard

Texas leads the nation in tornadoes. This presentation will look at the deadliest Texas tornadoes as well as some historically important ones that did not cause great loss of life. In addition, there will be a brief look at tornado occurrences in local counties. Perhaps most importantly will be the information on tornado safety.

Marlene Bradford has spent most of her life in Tornado Alley. Her doctoral dissertation at Texas A&M University was Scanning the Skies: A History of Tornado Forecasting which the University of Oklahoma Press published in 2001. She is also the author to Texas Tornadoes: The Lone Star State’s Deadliest Twisters; Arkansas Tornadoes: The Natural State’s Deadliest Twisters; Tennessee Tornadoes: The Volunteer State’s Deadliest Twisters; and Incredible Destruction in Central Texas: The Jarrell Tornado. Dr. Bradford is also the editor of the multi-volume Notable Natural Disasters. Her love (besides tornadoes) is teaching. She retired after more than twenty years of teaching U.S. history at the college and high school level, and currently resides with her husband In Garland, Texas.

Future Second Saturday Programs

The Refuge Rocks! Programs for Children

    • April 20, 2024
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • Hagerman NWR Visitor Center
    • 9

    Trees are an important part of our world.  They provide wood for building and pulp for making paper.  They provide habitats (homes) for all sorts of insects, birds and other animals.  Many types of fruits and nuts come from trees - including apples, oranges, peaches, walnuts and pecans.  Even the sap of trees is useful as food for insects and for making maple syrup -- yum!  Come join us on April 20 for a free class to learn about trees. We'll be going out on the trail to measure the ages of trees and to make bark rubbings.  The attendees will make a fun tree craft to take home.  For ages 5-10.  Registration Required.   Photo credit:  Cindy Steele

    • May 18, 2024
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • Hagerman NWR Visitor Center
    • 26

    Calling all bug and insect lovers!  Buzz in to learn about our creepy crawly bug friends in this Refuge Rocks program. Explore the magical realm of insects that are nature's superheroes. From ladybugs to praying mantises, learn about these tiny creatures' incredible powers and how they help our gardens thrive. Children will discover bugs' vital role in maintaining balance in our ecosystems. Get ready to unleash your inner bug enthusiast as we uncover the secrets of these fascinating critters and their essential contributions to our world.

    In this program, we’ll learn about the superheroes of the insect world through a short lesson, craft, and fun activities!  Come join us on May 18 for a free class for youth ages 5-10.  For ages 5-10.  Registration Required.   Photo credit:  C. Steele/Canva Pro

Future Programs

Puddles' Craft Corner

Gee, I Love Geodes!

By Cindy Steele, Master Naturalist

Welcome back to Puddles’ Craft Corner. Geodes are one of the great mysteries in the rock and mineral world! On the outside, they look like a plain uninteresting rock. But break them open, and you find the most amazingly beautiful crystals hiding inside!

Geodes, for kids, are a wonderful introduction to geology and provide a hands-on tool for learning how rocks are formed.

Geodes might look ordinary on the outside, but their beauty is on the inside. In Greek the word geode means “shape of the Earth”. A geode is formed when a mixture of liquid and minerals fill the empty space of a hollow rock. Geodes are created over time. It may take millions of...

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       

Thank You

To Our Contributors:

Cassidie Hull, Jack Chiles,  Laurie Sheppard, Cindy Steele, Cathy Van Bebber

Refuge Manager: Kathy Whaley

Deputy Refuge Manager: Paul Balkenbush

Visitor Services Manager: Spencer Beard 

Editor: Patricia Crain, Laurie Sheppard

Friends of Hagerman NWR Foundation

6465 Refuge Road, Sherman, TX 75092

Phone: 903-786-2826

Contact Us  



Search for any word--do not use quotes for phrases

Events and activities hosted by the Friends of Hagerman are funded by donations and powered solely by volunteers.  There are no fees for admission to the refuge or parking; the refuge is open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year, drive on any road unless gated.

6465 Refuge Road

Sherman, TX 75092



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.

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

See you at the refuge!

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