Refuge fire personnel in coordination with the Burns Interagency Fire Zone conducted a prescribed burn on the south side of Malheur Lake in mid-February 2015. The prescribed fire was initiated to reduce decadent vegetation - meadow grasses, cattails and bulrush - to improve foraging and nesting conditions for migratory waterfowl, greater sandhill cranes and other birds using this portion of the refuge. Vegetation recovers quickly following late winter prescribed burns as the sun heats the soil and high protein grasses begin to grow and insects move toward the surface of the burned area.
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The staccato call of the greater sandhill crane announces the beginning of spring at the refuge. Cranes are a common sight strutting across meadows in search of their next meal.