Our Visit to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Site of the Militia Takeover

When Pamelia and I visited the remote Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon in 2010 (while doing reporting for a magazine story on the Pacific Flyway bird migration), we saw raptors, waterfowl, shorebirds, a coyote and a small but terrific one-room, unstaffed nature museum filled with bird specimens and eggs—a gem in the middle of nowhere. Thus we were startled by the news that armed militia members have taken over a building at the refuge in an anti-government protest involving ranchers. Here are several images from our visit, including the coyote, a barn owl, a black-bellied plover, a mountain bluebird, a greater yellowlegs, a sharp-shinned hawk and long-billed curlew eggs. The refuge's history is fascinating; more on that soon. —Craig Neff and Pamelia Markwood

Welcome to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon. It's a key stop for birds on the Pacific Flyway migration route.

The coyote raced across a field, stopped, turned to look back at us, then ran off.

A barn owl specimen from the Malheur refuge's wildlife display.

A main building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. I'm not sure if this is the one taken over by the militia.

I walked around the remote refuge with Pamelia under eastern Oregon's big sky.

A black-bellied plover specimen from the bird display.

A mountain bluebird.

A greater yellowlegs.

Malheur's small but wonderful nature center.

A sharp-shinned hawk.

The refuge has drawers full of egg specimens, such as these from a long-billed curlew.