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Visit Journey North's website. A great destination for  Teachers, Educators, and Kids of all ages.

 

Whooper Happenings
Mark Chenoweth's latest audio podcast all about Whooping Cranes!

Operation Migration is pleased to provide this link to Whooper Happenings to its website visitors.  

Mark Chenoweth, an OM supporter with a long history in broadcast journalism,  developed Whooper Happenings. In addition to OM staffers and WCEP partners, Mark's podcasts include interviews with various experts and lay people on Whooping crane history, husbandry and reintroduction.

The comments and opinions expressed on Whooper Happenings are not necessarily those of Operation Migration.

 



Date: October 4th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

MIGRATION DEPARTURE ???

No news yet folks. We are sitting patiently (well, maybe not so patiently) waiting for a call from Bev with the go - no go news.

A word to OM Members expecting to receive their first Duke Energy EarlyBird e-bulletin in their email Inbox this morning. Late last night we tested our new email delivery system late and everything appeared to work well. However, as with anything new, we expect we may encounter a glitch here and there, so please bear with us.

Date: October 4th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Last minute Flight Training

The team was able to do flight training yesterday, and while a bit 'scrambly', the day was deemed very successful with most of the birds flying for approximately 25 minutes.

The team flew the cohort, (minus 602, 616, 618 and 620 who dropped out and turned back) to Site 2 for a practice session going in and out of the travel pen they erected there for the purpose. 611 wasn't at all interested in going into the pen. She liked the runway well enough though, and remained obstinate despite a mountain of grape bribes.

The team spent the rest of the day shopping for last minute needs - more batteries, new plastic tubs, etc, and then battened down the hatches for some nasty weather forecasted for the afternoon and evening. While there was lightening and high wind, it remained warm and the worst of the weather forecasted didn't materialize.

Today was another story however. Joe reported that it was rainy, cold, and blustery. Obviously birds and crew were grounded. Nonetheless, the morning was over in a flash as everyone scurried to finish packing the trailers and getting themselves organized for tomorrow’s hoped for departure.

Then camp emptied out as the team headed off for the first and second stopover sites to set up a travel pen at each location so things will be in readiness for the birds - regardless of when the departure/arrival happens.

No time to site down today. Camp is deserted as departure preparations keep everyone hopping.

Date: October 4th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

WB/A Whooping cranes on the move

The weekly update for 24-30 September was received this morning from Trackers/Monitors R. P. Urbanek, T. L. Love, and S. L. Grover. Photos below sent by Richard Urbanek.

In the highlights below, females are indicated by *. Locations are in Wisconsin unless indicated otherwise. DAR = direct autumn release. The eastern migratory population contained 61 adults/sub-adults (34 males and 27 females) and 1 or 2 chicks. Distribution was: Wisconsin (55 adults/sub-adults and 1 or 2 chicks), Iowa (3), and Michigan (3).

211 and 217* and one of their fledged chicks spent the week on their territory on East Rynearson Pool, the East DU Unit, or just south of the refuge. The other chick has not been seen since the evening of 12 September.

East of Lake Michigan:
318 remained in Mason County, Michigan.
522 has not been detected since being observed flying southward into Muskegon County on 14 June.
DAR 533* remained with Sandhill cranes in southwestern Barry County, Michigan.

 Outside of Core Reintroduction Area:
-          A banded Whooping crane believed to be 107* was sighted in Fond du Lac County, on 27
-          September. 107* transmitter is nonfunctional and the bird cannot be tracked.
-          505 and 506 were last confirmed in Green County, on 15 September. An unverified sighting of two whooping cranes in a pond in Ogle County / Winnebago County, IL, on 24 September, may have been these birds, but no cranes were found during a search on 29 September.
-          407 and 508* - Marathon County.
-          420* remained with Sandhills in Rusk County.
-          502*, 503 and 507 in Winnebago County, and Hancock County, Iowa.
-          509 was last observed west of Loon Lake SWA on 23 September, but was not found when the area was checked on 3 October.
-          516 N, Dane County.
-          527* remained in large Sandhill flocks NW Marquette County.
-          DAR528* remained with Sandhill cranes in or near Marathon County.

Transmitter Replacements:
The malfunctioning transmitter of no.202  was replaced at Site 1, at the Necedah NWR, on 24 September. The nonfunctional PTT was recovered and the nonfunctional transmitter of 312 was replaced on 26 September.

First Family on parade The First Family listens, watches as OM's ultralights and the Class of '06 fly overhead.

Date: October 3rd, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

WB/A Whooping cranes on the move

Tom Stehn emailed this morning to advise that since the first sighting was reported last week, he has had a total of four reports of Whooping cranes in North Dakota. So the Wood Buffalo/Aransas birds are starting to leave Canada and head south.

Tom said, "Although most are presumably in Saskatchewan's agricultural prairies 'staging' for several weeks, a few are likely still in Wood Buffalo Park and a few in the US. It is still 90 degrees here in South Texas so I expect it will be a while yet before I see a crane", he added.

The average first arrival date for Whooping cranes at Aransas is October 16th.

Date: October 2nd, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

ANNOUNCING!

 

partners

with

We are pleased and proud to welcome
DUKE ENERGY
as a partner/sponsor.

Duke Energy will sponsor ‘EarlyBird’ an e-bulletin which will be emailed to OM Members each morning throughout the 2006 migration.

No more waiting for the migration news of the day. EarlyBird will deliver what’' happening each migration morning directly to your email inbox - within minutes of take-off or the no-go decision being made.

AND, no more having to check and re-check the website Field Journal for the day's news. Duke Energy's EarlyBird e-bulletin will be followed later in the day by an email alert - to immediately let you know that the full Field Journal entry for the day has been posted -along with a convenient link to the Field Journal.

Thanks to Duke Energy's generous support OM is able to add the EarlyBird e-bulletin to existing Member benefits. (Members also receive OM’s popular magazine, ‘INformation,’ and special pricing and discounts on featured OM merchandise.)

To become an OM Member click http://www.operationmigration.org/contribute.htm and use PayPal, or call us at 1-800-675-2618 between 9am -5pm EST Monday to Friday.

Note to existing members: To ensure you will receive the EarlyBird e-bulletin please help us make sure we have your current email address on file by sending an email to: earlybird@operationmigration.org. Members wishing to opt out of receiving EarlyBird please notify us by emailing the same address with the words 'OPT OUT' in the subject line.

About Duke Energy

Duke Energy joins with environmental groups such as Operation Migration to protect our natural resources because it believes the company can accomplish far more in partnership than alone. As one of the nation’s leading energy companies, Duke Energy takes its environmental obligations seriously and demonstrates them through air emission reductions, land preservation initiatives, wetland restoration projects, habitat protection programs, and reforestation efforts, to name a few.

Duke Energy also has a distinguished record of support for endangered birds, including significant support for habitats and the wildlife that depend on them. Recently, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and numerous others, the company dedicated a 463-acre wildlife management area adjacent to Duke Energy’s Gibson electric power plant in southwest Indiana. The area is already attracting an amazing diversity of bird life.

Duke Energy supplies, delivers and processes energy for customers in the Americas. The company serves 3.8 million electric customers in five states, and 1.7 million gas customers. Read more about Duke Energy at: http://www.duke-energy.com.

Date: October 2nd, 2006 -  'Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Darn Wind

No training today unfortunately. Too windy. While the Class of '06 gets the day off, the team doesn't.

Ticked off the 'to do' list this morning was a trip down to Stopover #2 to check out that the crop in the field we use had been harvested, and was ready to receive birds and ultralights. All was A-ok.

Today's jobs include changing the oil in our two trucks; straightening up the travel pens and making sure everything is loaded; and sorting through everything to determine what has to go along and what will stay behind.


I was on the phone getting this little report from Marie and when I asked, "What else?" there was a pregnant pause. Then I heard a voice (Charlie Shafer's) shouting in the background, "Tell her lots of stressing out!" Guess that pretty much sums up what the team is feeling at the moment.

The weather currently being forecast for Necedah at 7am on Thursday is: partly cloudy (56%), temp 42F, ENE winds at 4 mph, with a 10% probability of precipitation. Everybody got their fingers crossed?

Date: October 1st, 2006

Links

Reporter: Joe Duff

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Perfect Day - Great Flight Training

With all the fundraising responsibilities, traveling back and forth to Ontario, and the bad weather we have had recently, it seems like weeks since it was my turn to lead birds. I flew in the chase position the last few times we had the birds out, including one flight with Dr. Jane Goodall in the back seat. But today was my turn to get back to the business of leading birds and the reward was sweetened by a perfect morning.
 

With all 18 birds coming enthusiastically out of the pen at once it's like an explosion of white features and flashing wings. I managed to stay ahead of them as we crossed the pond and headed for the 30 or so people waiting at the Observation Tower. There was a thick bank of fog to the north, so we circled tight and let a few of the stragglers cut the corner to catch up. It took a while to get organized, but in time, I had 15 birds while Chris picked up the others. Brooke flew chase for me as we cruised a mile or two south of the pen site.
 

As we neared the twenty minute mark a few of the birds decided it was time to head home. One or two would move away from the wingtip, pushing in the direction of the pen. They would convince a few others to join them, and soon five birds would be flying parallel to us a couple of hundred yards away.
 

Sometimes when a bird breaks for home they just make an abrupt turn and leave. But in other situations they seem to want company, and a splinter group will try to steer the flock back. If you turn the aircraft towards them in an attempt to intercept, you lose. They interpret your manoeuvre as a sign of compliance and you forfeit the lead as the entire flock heads for home. But if you stay the course and maintain your resolve, they sometimes give in. After a minute or two they realize their attempted mutiny has failed and one by one they move back into formation - until the next time. It's like a little mini drama unfolding in flight. It's all about dominance, and you can almost see them planning their move.
 

If you do lose the flock and end up following them back, you reinforce their leadership and a bad lesson has been taught. The only alternative is to let them go on their own, or overtake them and regain the lead. Even if you only lead them home, you still maintain your authority, and in the bird world that is what its all about.
 

The main group flew for 26 minutes this morning in perfect calm air. It was Sunday, and as we planned the rest of the day a supporter treated us to breakfast. We hope to leave this coming Thursday so there's lots to do to keep us busy.

Date: September 29th, 2006 - Entry 4

Links

Reporter: Bev Paulan

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

A Day in the Life

This morning dawned calm and clear, completely unlike the original forecast.  What a gift it is to get two training days back to back this close to migration. I headed out to the pen site with Charlie and Marie, while all four pilots headed for the airport.

After discussing what we expected to transpire today, I was assigned the task of being 'Swamp Monster'. A swamp monster is one of us handlers hiding under a tarp, jumping up and shaking the tarp if any bird should come back to runway. Since due to the lousy weather training has been rather limited lately, some of the birds think hanging out at the pen is more fun than having to work out.

After getting the birds up in the air Joe radioed down that 615 was coming back and I literally sprung into action. Now, there is an eye-slit cut into the tarp so we can see out to spot exactly where the bird is. However, when jumping up and down and running all over the runway shaking the tarp, the eye-slit tends to move. When Charlie and Marie complimented me after training on my initial performance, I had to confess that most of the jumping and shaking was really just trying to get the darn eye-slit back in position so I could actually see what I was doing!

My Swamp Monster act worked though, and 615 decided that following the trike was a better option after all and flew several more circuits. The other birds trained well and we are still hopeful for departure on Thursday, October 5th.

After training and a quick breakfast everyone headed out to complete the remaining tasks we have for migration prep. Marie, Charlie, Chris and I cut a new top net for one of the travel pens, while Richard reviewed our 'black book'. This document is actually the directions for all of our stops on migration - and as one of the ground crew I can't tell you how grateful I am to Richard for double checking we won't end up in Missouri instead of Indiana!

The day continued as we madly scrambled, anxiously checking the to do list, and sighing in relief when we ticked a chore off.

Now if the weather cooperates..........

Date: September 29th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

More on Twin Chick Behavior

Joe adds his comments to Tom's, Brian's and Richard's. (see Sept 28/06 entry)

I certainly didn't log as much time observing the First Family as Richard U., but I did notice that once the chicks were mobile and using most of the lower half of East Rynearson Pool, they became more independent.

From what I saw, the parents no longer brought them food, and it became the responsibility of the chicks to keep up as they wandered through the marsh. If one chick fell behind, or wandered off, (usually the larger one) there was no waiting or calling or turning back. They seemed indifferent as they foraged.

When the parents brought the chicks up onto the runway with all of us there, the smaller of the two stayed close to one or other of the parents while the larger chick kept its distance, staying to the outside of the group regardless of where the parents were. After we put our chicks away we herded the adults off the north end of the runway and they seemed oblivious to the whereabouts of the chicks. It was the chicks that made the effort to reunite with the adults.

The chicks imprinted on the parents whereas the parents are drawn to the chicks by parental instinct. Maybe the latter is a learned process like incubating their eggs.

When raising our chicks we notice a prevailing independent attitude just before fledging. They become more attentive once they begin to follow the aircraft in the air.

Just observations without conclusions.

Date: September 29th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Pop Quiz

What do the numbers 2, 23, 61, 86, and 498 represent in the world of Whooping cranes?

2 - the number of chicks hatched in the wild this year.

23 - the number of 2006 chicks. (18 in the ultralight-led class and 5 DAR)

61 - the number of adult and sub-adult birds we have already re-introduced that survive.

86 - the total number of Whooping cranes in the reintroduction project as of this moment.

498* - the total number of Whooping cranes in the world.
*Captive Population      146  (in zoos and breeding facilities throughout North America)
 Aransas/Wood Buffalo  212
 Florida Non-Migratory    54
 Wisconsin/Florida          86

Date: September 29th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Day of Peace

Tomorrow, September 30th is Roots & Shoots Day of Peace in support of the U.N. International Day of Peace. Celebrate with Roots & Shoots groups around the world to show that peace is possible! For more information check out www.rootsandshoots.org/peace-day/

Date: September 28th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Twin Chick behavior

Today we received the note below from Tom Stehn, of the USFWS Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and Whooping Crane Recovery Team Co-Chair. He collected a comment from Brian Johns, and Richard Urbanek chimed in with 'on site' observations. Thanks fellows!

Tom writes: The behavior of the twin juvenile that split off from its parents in Wisconsin and is currently listed as missing continues to puzzle me. I conferred with Canadian Whooping Crane Coordinator Brian Johns, and tapped into his knowledge of the nesting cranes in Canada. He has observed more 'twin families' than anybody, primarily on survey flights soon after hatching in mid--June, and then just prior to fledging in mid-August.

Brian writes in response: I have not observed any separation of twin chicks. I don't think that a single chick would separate from the parents, or that the parents would leave a single chick. However, I have suspected in the past that in a family with 2 young that this might happen. A couple of times I have seen twin chick families in Wood Buffalo National Park where the second chick was almost 100 meters away from the adults and its sibling, but it ran to them after the aircraft circled a couple of times. We suspect that a separation is more likely to occur during migration, but I do not know if such a separation is purposeful or accidental. I have always felt that it was accidental, but that it did happen on occasion.

Tom adds: This past winter at Aransas I observed that one chick from a family of twins split off for several days and was located 3 miles away from the family. Three days later I observed the twin family re-united. One of the twin chicks died approximately 2 months later, but I never found a carcass. I speculated that the mortality was probably the chick that had been separated, and wondered if the prior separation had been an early sign of a health problem.

The situation with the twin family this summer in Wisconsin remains a puzzle, and not what I would consider typical behavior. I don't have an explanation for what has been observed. If there is a tendency for one of the twin chicks to separate, this could be another reason that Whooping cranes only occasionally are successful in raising two young.

Richard Urbanek's comments: (Chick A refers to the chick which appeared larger and further ahead in development.) Even before they fledged, Chick A occasionally separated from the parents and Chick B. At times, Chick A appeared almost 0.25 miles away. There was no noticeable health issue. This behavior apparently continued after they fledged. What wasn’t expected was that the parents would leave their territory and not return for several days. Chick A was apparently left behind when they moved south with Chick B on 12 September. Later, Chick A would not be able to find its parents.

After retrieving Chick B from near the highway on 12 September, we released her back on the territory on East Rynearson Pool (ERP). She did not re-associate with Chick A, who was still there foraging, but eventually roosted alone. The parents did not return to ERP but roosted on the East DU Unit. Chick B then flew south on the following morning and rejoined the parents.

Chick A has not been seen since the evening of 12 September. A likely scenario is that Chick A flew to an unknown location on the morning of 13 September. Chick A could also have been killed by a predator, but if mortality occurred on ERP, the carcass may have been buried as search of the area by OM's ultralights detected no visible remains.

Date: September 27th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

The 'Big' story promised in Sept. 24th's entry.

Many years ago, more years than I care to count, my conservation and environmental consciousness were awakened by a then young Canadian scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster, Dr. David Suzuki. And I was an impressionable teenager when the work and life of Dr. Jane Goodall captured my imagination, and taught me the 'power of the individual' to make a difference for all living things.

Over the years, though aware and concerned, my connection and involvement with conservation and the environment was for the most part rudimentary - such as doing volunteer work for the Humane Society and involvement in a national water and energy conservation campaign. Then along came the opportunity to join Operation Migration, and the chance to do more than sort my cans, bottles and paper into their appropriate recycling bins. Thanks to OM I am privileged to work on a project that is truly making a huge difference to both conservation and environment.

Having been enthralled with Dr. Goodall's work with chimps, and admiring her evolution into a masterful teacher and global ambassador, you can imagine the leap my heart made when she accepted Operation Migration's invitation to visit us in Wisconsin. Yes, that's right - the little OM team hosted Dr. Goodall in our camp on the Necedah refuge for two days this past week!

Traveling the globe 320 days a year making appearances, lecturing, and spreading her message of hope, Jane's schedule is an arduous one. Knowing this, and that Jane was in the U.K. when we sent off our invitation, we thought her coming to Wisconsin was more dream than likelihood. But dreams can come true, and after many emails, phone calls, shuffling and re-scheduling on the part of Jane's terrific staff, and scrambling to make arrangements on the OM team's part, Joe and I stood at Madison's Dane Country Regional Airport watching an icon descend the escalator.

The two hour truck drive back to camp flew by in a wink as we chatted and got acquainted with Dr. Goodall and her videographer, Bill Wallenauer. On our arrival around 10:30pm, the excited and awed team was quickly put at ease by Jane's warm and unassuming manner. Despite her already long and tiring day, she sat in the Nomad nibbling cheese and fruit and chatting with the crew until we remembered our manners and let her retire to her trailer 'bedroom' for the night.

Friday morning our worst fears were realized. Groan. It was pouring rain. Huddled out of the cold and wet under the little canopy between two trailers, team members were joined by Jane's videographer, Bill, OM's videographer Jeff Huxmann, and Kip, a producer sent by Discovery Channel, for a strategic planning session. Yes, it turns out that Dr. Goodall's visit would be filmed for a 10 minute segment on Animal Planet!

Jane must have connections upstairs because when she emerged from the trailer to join us, the skies lightened and the rain let up. Crew, filmers, everyone, started scurrying around to take advantage of the break in the weather. And before you know it, the morning was eaten up with on-camera interviews with team members and filming around camp.

Perched on the back of the trike, Jane's beloved "Mr. H" takes time out to smooze with OM's Derrick the Crane.

Then, grabbing fruit and granola bars, we headed for Site 1 to show off the Class of 2006 to the world's most famous primatologist. In a never before (and likely never again) lifting of our strict isolation protocol, (only those required to work with the birds are allowed near them) Dr. Goodall was costumed up, and after communication and behavioral instruction from Joe, she was taken into the netted pen with the birds. The rest of us, all green with envy, hung out in the blind awaiting her emergence and reaction.

As I stood waiting in the blind, I wondered if given all that Jane had seen, done, and experienced in her lifetime, whether walking around the pen with 18 Whooping crane chicks would make any impact. I needn't have given it a thought. The 'Wow' factor was at work. When we all converged back at our vehicles hidden behind the blind, the dramatic effect of the experience shone from her eyes and was reflected in her face and words.


While the film crew worked with Jane and Joe and others on the team to capture scenes that would tell the story of her visit, Chris and I returned to our temporary office in the Nomad trailer to try and get some office work done, and to help organize for the evening's dinner.

While Deke watched, Marie and Rebecca threw themselves in to meal preparations and Chris G took off for town for a few needed groceries. With the additional people in camp I knew we would never all fit in the little Nomad for dinner, and fearing the off and on rain would rule out our usual outdoor buffet around the picnic table, I tore over to Refuge Headquarters to beg the use of the classroom from manager Larry Wargowsky. He said 'yes' in a flash, and the trips in the truck with our mish-mash of dishes, cutlery, and other necessities got underway.

By 7 o'clock the team, Jane, the film crew, and a few guests were gathered in the classroom munching on pizza appetizers. Lunch having been a non-event meant everyone had an appetite, so it wasn't long before we were all digging in to Marie and Rebecca's great dishes.

In the pause between dinner and dessert, Jane asked that everyone around the table tell her how they had come to the Whooping crane project. It was a brilliant idea on her part. We learned things about each other that we had never heard before; all interesting, some humorous, and a few quite moving. Jane also spoke, telling us wonderful stories and sharing insights into other projects. To end the evening, everyone turned to the people sitting beside them and thanked them for making a difference in the world. A hectic day capped off in a glow of warmth with special friends.

Saturday morning dawned clear and cloudless. No need for a planning huddle - it was a definite fly day, but one with a difference. Joe would not be flying with the birds. Instead, he would fly with a backseat passenger. Camp emptied out in a flash. The ground crew high-tailed it to Site 1; the pilots and Dr. Goodall to the hangar with film crew trailing behind; and the rest of us beetled off to the Observation Tower with the hope of watching the first flyby of the combined three cohorts.

 Brooke treated us to two passes by the tower, despite the trashy air that was bouncing them around. Chris was leading the rest of the birds and flew as close as he could, while high above, Joe, (with Jane in the backseat taking her introductory ultralight flight) directed traffic and spotted birds for them both. Eventually the wind conditions dictated a return to the ground.

While the ground crew, the pilots, and OM's most famous 'intern' cavorted with the birds on the runway in front of the pen, the film crew and I raced for the hanger to capture Jane's reaction when she and Joe landed. We waited and waited, and only found out later the delay was because the crew had put Jane to work helping to put the birds back into the pen.

What was Jane's reaction? You will see for yourself when the segment airs on Animal Planet, but in the meantime, I don't think Jane will mind my repeating some of what she said here. Words like, 'Amazing', 'Beautiful', and 'Incredible'. Like so many of us, Jane too was moved to tears. Our now not-so-little Whooping cranes had made a new best friend. Boy-oh-boy, do they know how to pick'em!

Throughout Dr. Goodall's visit we had opportunities to talk not only about Operation Migrations work, but also about the work of the Jane Goodall Institute. One of her organization's wonderful programs is 'Roots and Shoots,' http://www.rootsandshoots.org/ and among other assistances she offered to us, Jane extended an invitation for Operation Migration to participate. Would someone please pinch me? Maybe it can get better than this, but right now I just can't imagine how.

If you visit Janes website http://www.janegoodall.org/you will read, "The Jane Goodall Institute advances the power of individuals to take informed and compassionate action to improve the environment of all living things." I know I speak for the entire OM team when I say that no one could spend time in Jane's presence and not feel inspired and motivated to action.

If ever you are presented with an occasion to see Dr. Jane Goodall; to hear her; meet her; seize the opportunity. That she personally is making a difference to our world and its creatures is awesome; that she influences thousands, persuading them to embrace the principle of 'the power of the individual' is nothing short of staggering.

Along with our admiration and respect, we send our deepest thanks and love to Jane. How can someone so quiet and unassuming make one believe anything is possible? Jane Goodall is HOPE, personified.

(More photos of Dr. Goodall's visit will appear in the photo journal in the near future.)

From Marie Brady
I awoke Friday morning to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof of the trailer. I immediately thought, "Oh no, another morning of no training for the chicks." Then, another even more frightening thought came to me, "Jane Goodall (THE Jane Goodall) is in the next trailer - and I have to make her dinner tonight!"

I really, really wanted to go over to the Nomad to meet her, but was way too scared to walk in by myself. Everyone told me that she was really nice and very down to earth, but I was still freaked out. Finally I went in to meet her with OM's good buddy Dave Johnson who was visiting. She was just as everyone had said; very friendly, and with so many interesting stories to tell.

The film crew wanted a shot of us all standing outside in the rain talking, so we obliged. Then Robert Doyle gave Jane a puppet head demo. Jane had been given a costume to try on, but of course no costume is complete without rubber boots. One of the film crew came to me and asked where we could find her a pair of rubber boots. There being no dry alternative, I told her that she was welcome to borrow mine. When I brought them back she took off one shoe and reached out an arm for balance. I took her arm as she tried on my boots. "They're a perfect fit," she said. Now I’m thinking, "Holy Cranes! Jane Goodall is wearing MY boots!!"

Soon it was off to the hangar to show the planes and get some footage of them. The group Dave Johnson had brought with him was there too, and they got a bigger treat than I bet they had in mind. Brooke was in the middle of his spiel about the project and the trikes when in walked Jane Goodall. She spoke to the entire group, answered their questions, and even told some stories about her beloved chimps. 

Once everyone cleared out it was time for some filming in the hangar, then off it was to a pen site for more  interviews and more filming. After that it was time for me to start getting dinner ready - hoping I wouldn't screw it up. Cooking has never exactly been my strong suit. 

Just in case you are wondering, Jane Goodall wears a size 7½. I think I will be retiring those rubber boots now. That has got the be the highest point in any boots' career - having Jane Goodall's feet inside. How could their life get any better than that?

From Joe Duff
If you include our original test migration with Sandhill cranes, we are about the make our 7th airborne journey from Wisconsin to Florida. You get an unusual perspective from low altitude and it's easy to see the encroachments as more and more houses and businesses use up more and more habitat.

Many of the sites we used are no longer available, and we have been warned that our regular stop at Hiwassee in Tennessee will be in view of over 1000 homes in the next year. Even the chicks that were hatched in the wild this year will follow their parents to a site in Florida that has been scheduled for development. Add all this to our funding problems, and it's hard not to get depressed. But last week we came face to face with an icon of hope.

Dr. Jane Goodall changed her hectic schedule to accept an invitation to visit with us. She stayed in camp and had an opportunity to get to know the crew. After two days of rain and wind we got the break we needed Saturday morning, and Jane pulled on a costume and climbed in the back seat of my aircraft for an introduction to ultralight flying.

Chris Gullikson led the flock on the first flight of the combined cohorts. The mixed group has not yet established their dominance structure, so some turned back and Brooke picked up the stragglers. We flew in formation, Chris leading a long string of birds with us at the tail end.

The morning was cool, the air calm, and the birds, lit by a sunrise filtered through clouds, looked like jewels. It is hard to describe the birds when they are soaring off the wing tip and lit from below. The combination of pure white, pitch black, and the speckled fawn of Whooping crane youth seems somehow sumptuous or lavish, like they were given more than their share of beauty. Or maybe as Aldo Leopold observed, they are beyond the reach of words.

When it came time for Jane to leave, it turned out we were on the same flight to Chicago. She had to continue her lecture schedule starting in Detroit, while I was going home for my daughters seventh birthday.

I was lucky; our flight was delayed and I had an opportunity to get to know a little about a most remarkable person. Early on she understood that in order to save chimpanzees, and all wildlife, she had to expand her vision beyond field work. She had to leave what she loved to in order to help educate a new generation. She started the Jane Goodall Institute and her Roots and Shoots program is now established in over a hundred countries.

Jane believes that without hope nothing can be accomplished. It is a simple philosophy, but she is so open-hearted and enthusiastic that her message of hope is contagious. All of us were moved by her as much as she was touched by the birds.

Now, we are all infected with the Goodall strain of optimism - so to hell with the problems, the finances; it's almost time to migrate!!!! 

Date: September 27th, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Monitoring Report for Sept 17-23

(Females are indicated by *. Unless otherwise indicated locations are in Wisconsin. DAR = direct autumn release.)

The eastern migratory population contains 61 adults/sub-adults (34 males and 27 females) and 1 or 2 chicks. Distribution was: Wisconsin - 55 adults/sub-adults and 1 or 2 chicks; Iowa 3; and Michigan 3.

211, 217* and one of their fledged chicks spent most of the week on the East DU Unit or feeding in a cornfield just south of the refuge. They also roosted on their territory on East Rynearson Pool (ERP). The other chick has not been located since the evening of 12 September when it was observed foraging alone on ERP.

The First Family taken September 24th/06

Photo supplied by Richard Urbanek

East of Lake Michigan: On September 14th 318 was reported as being on his summering area in an agricultural area in Mason County, Michigan. 522 was last detected as he left Oceana County, Michigan June 14 when he flushed with Sandhill cranes during reconnaissance for a retrieval attempt. He flew southward with approximately 30 Sandhills into Muskegon County and was not tracked further. DAR 533* remains with Sandhill cranes in Barry County, Michigan.

Sub-adults Outside of Core Reintroduction Area: 407 and 508*; 420*, 502*, 503*, 507*, 509, 516, DAR527*, DAR528*

Birds not Recently Located (last record):
107* Adams County, 18 April(nonfunctional transmitter)
522 leaving Oceana County, Michigan, 14 June

Thanks to Richard Urbanek, Tally Love, and S. Grover for the update.

Date: September 27th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Chris Gillikson

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Training update

No training this morning due to wind and rain.

We trained on Monday morning despite a forecast that looked marginal at best. Brooke and I flew out to the refuge and were greeted to a spectacular view of ground fog covering a good part of the northern half of the refuge. Fog is a beautiful sight over the refuge, but it of course delays our training while we wait for it to burn off. Fortunately, the south end of the refuge was mostly clear, and we had a corridor of clearing along the west side of the refuge to lead the birds.

It was my turn to lead so I dropped down low over East Rynerson to setup a landing approach and get a feel for the air down low. Flying 10 feet off the water I was delighted to find that the air was as glass smooth as the water just below me. I rolled up to the pen doors, turned on my loudspeaker that broadcasts the brood call, and gave Marie and Robert the thumbs up signal. They swung open the pen doors and the birds stampeded out onto the runway looking very excited to get underway.

I find it almost impossible to try and count birds in this disorganized frenzy, so as soon as I saw that all the birds were through the door, I poured on the coals to begin my takeoff - desperately trying to stay ahead of the birds who were airborne and flying right beside me.

My wheels left the ground after a short 200 foot rollout. I dropped my engine down to 4500 RPM's, flew in ground effect down the runway making a gentle right turn out over East Rynerson. I had a whole bunch of birds with me, some right on the wing, others further back and cutting the corner to catch up to me. I quickly learned over the radio that 2 birds had never made it out of the pen, and that 2 other birds were leaving my trike to head back to the runway. Brooke moved in to work with these 4 birds while I headed past the tower and to the north with 14 birds following in a ragged formation.

This was only our second flight with all 18 birds together, and they haven't quite gotten the hang of flying with each other yet. After 5 minutes of flying low and slow over the Necedah wetlands, they started to get the hang of it and closed up the formation; six birds on my left wing and eight on my right.

I was able to do a slow climb up to 200 feet out over West Rynerson pond and get above the air that was now becoming slightly bumpy. It gets a little crazy this time of year as thousands of staging birds arrive on the refuge. Ducks and geese were taking off below us by the hundreds, and the air was filling up fast with flying waterfowl.

It's hard enough to keep an accurate count of the birds on your wing, and having this flying mayhem all around you just adds to the confusion. I soon realized that one bird had lost the draft and fallen way behind us. I did a slow 180 degree turn and began a gradual decent to help the bird catch back up. The air below was getting pretty rough at this point so I headed back to the pen with my formation of birds beginning to fall apart again as we got into the trashy air.

I landed my group of birds at the pen and Brooke landed shortly after with the three that he had managed to round-up. It was not a very long flight training session, but we felt they did great for just their second time flying together, and considering we haven't been able to fly much due to weather. A few consecutive days of good weather should have all 18 birds flying well together.

Date: September 27th, 2006

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Pennies add up

If you aren't already using GoodSearch to search the internet why not give it a try? (Click on the link to the right) Each time you search and designate OM before you hit the 'go' button, a penny comes to us. We know from our web hits there are thousands of you out there reading our field journal. A total of 20,600 searches = one MileMaker mile. So far we are at 6,766. Think you can do it?

Date: September 26th, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

It's a Girl!

Just in - Based on DNA test results the one wild chick that was recently banded is a female.

Date: September 26th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

First Family / Missing Chick

If the more than 200 emails I've received over the past week inquiring about the First Family and the missing chick are any indication, I guess we've fallen down on the job of keep everyone posted.

Essentially there is no news to report however. The First Family continues to do well and is still often seen foraging near the DU Pond on the refuge. There has still been no further sighting of the missing chick. The chick was last seen the evening of September 12th when its sibling flew to join it after being rescued from Route 21.

Date: September 24th, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Laurie Lin

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Laurie's first Journal Entry

After receiving my new randomly selected license plate starting with the three letters 'FAW', I was trying to figure out what the three letters could stand for. I came up with 'Flying Alongside Whoopers. I thought that was a great sign! And the next thing I knew I was in Wisconsin interning with Operation Migration. I started my migration by driving from Calgary, Alberta, Canada to Patuxent in Laurel, Maryland. I choose to make this journey, one filled with many unpredictable factors that could derail at any point, but I was willing to take my chances.

It has been very rewarding to work with the Whooping cranes. It’' a process full of  'Kodak' moments, and quality time spent both with the birds and terrific people I work with. During my telephone interview with Mark Nipper, he asked me why I was applying for the position. I told him that I had been working with Whooping cranes, but wanted to learn more about them. In addition, because each year since 1997 I have traveled back and forth between Canada and my native Taiwan, I told him I was a good fit being a sort of a migratory species myself.

This year for my tenth ‘migration’ I have a new route Necedah, WI – Vancouver, BC – Taipei, Taiwan. I am only getting ready to leave and I already know I am going to miss our chicks a lot, but I will be back in lots of time to share their migration.

While putting the combined Cohorts 2 and 3 back into their pen after training my last day in camp, Chris appeared in the sky above with 602 and 606. It was a very special moment. At last, all the birds from all the cohorts were united at Site 1.

It was also my birthday. As a proud crane mom, no other birthday gift can be better than seeing all your little chicks joined together (who by the way are now are as tall or taller than me when they lift their beaks up high). My dear team members surprised me with a yummy birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday to me. While I was blowing out the candles I made a wish. I wished that all of our 18 beautiful birds complete the migration with us and that they, and their own chicks to come, live happily ever after in the wild.

Date: September 24th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Home again, home again jiggedie jig

Saturday was the first day of flying since combining all the cohorts, and given this, and the fact that the pilots had a very brief window weather-wise, it was a reasonably good training day. Brooke did manage two passes by the tower with birds in tow, but on both passes we could see that the air had already turned trashy and that his trike was being bounced around badly. Chris had the rest of the birds - those which hadn't turned back that is, but he too eventually had to give in and turn his charges back toward the pen.

Richard was absent as he had already headed home for his last break before migration, so Joe was alone in spotting/chase position. He had some very special help with him however, and I'll tell you that story in a later entry. Believe me - it will be a story you won't want to miss reading.

Why am I not telling you this terrific story now you ask? Because it is too 'big' a story to rush and because I want to do it justice I haven't finished writing it yet. Another factor is that with the trunk jammed full, and the back seat of my car packed almost to the roof, Chris and I left the team in camp at 8:30am, not long after Saturday morning's training.

We made the drive from Necedah to Port Perry almost totally in pouring rain, and we both swear there were only 10 miles of road between there and here that weren't under construction. I've never seen so many orange and white barrels in my whole life! We started our day shortly after 5am and it was after 1:00am when we reached our front doors, so you will appreciate we started this Sunday morning with a little less than our usual energy.

This week will be a challenge for us trying to play catch up, especially because as most of you know we are always behind to begin with. (chuckle - now there's an understatement) But assuming good flying weather, we will update the Field Journal as quickly as possible.

Date: September 21st, 2006 - Entry 3

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Another FlyDay!

Yea!!! Another fly day.

This morning Joe led the 8 birds in Cohort 1 on a great 29 minute flight. Richard managed to get all of the combined cohort's 10 birds streaming out behind him before one turned back. The remaining 9 followed him for a 10 minute flight before 2 more birds dropped out. He flew with the 7 that were left for another 15 minutes. A pretty good training day.

By the time Joe returned from his long jaunt to the north, all the other birds were cavorting on the runway in front of Site 1's pen. He landed with his 8 chicks, the oldest of all the birds, wondering what would happen as this would be their first opportunity to interact without a chain link fence between them. The answer soon became apparent. Nothing. They mixed and mingled and there were no displays of aggression. Whew.

After some socialization time under the watchful eye of the costumes, all 18 birds, now integrated into one cohort, were put back in to the pen. The next challenge will be getting them to fly as one large group - which may not happen for at least a day or two. Chris G, our resident meteorologist, tells us there is rain heading our way.

Date: September 21st, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

WCEP Partners Meet

The WCEP partners gather twice yearly (in September and February) to review the past six months work and plan for the next six. Today was day two of three days of WCEP's fall meetings. In addition to reports from the WCEP teams: Training and Ultralight Migration, Health, Tracking, DAR, and Communications and Outreach, we discussed the Long Term Flyway Monitoring Plan and the Wisconsin Whooping crane Management Plan.

It's quite something to watch such a large number of people, all bringing different talents and levels and types of knowledge and experience to the table, trying to morph into a cohesive, unified group. And given the individuals' diversities, divergence of opinions and ideas, and multiplicity of agendas of the various partner organizations – it is remarkable that as the day ended, everyone was, for the most part, smiling and nodding.

At one point, DNR's Bob Russell, also know as an 'Extreme Birder,' decided to give the group a break and a little stretch. He asked everyone to stand, and then told us all to think of the number of Whooping cranes that were surviving in the wild in the 1940's. Then Bob said, "Everyone who thinks that number was 13, please sit down." Then, "Everyone who things that number was 14, sit down." He continued, asking folks to sit down as he called successively higher numbers until only those believing the answer was 21 (Which is correct as there were 15 left in the Wood Buffalo/Aransas population and 6 still surviving in Louisiana.)

To arrive at the winner of a decorative Norman Rockwall type plate – but featuring Whooping cranes, Bob asked those still standing to pick a number between 1 and 1,000, and the winner was OM's Brooke PennyPacker.

WCEP and meeting Chair John Christian suggested that Brooke pass the plate around the table for everyone to see it - at which point I loudly interjected, "If we're going to ‘pass the plate, let's take up a collection." While we continued with the business of the meeting the plate gradually made its way around to the 30 odd people the room.

When it eventually made its way back to Brooke, he found he had a handful of change, a cookie, a lollipop, and lo and behold – a hotel room key. When he thanked everyone for their contributions it took a while for the laughter to die down. (The hotel room key belonged to Patuxent's Robert Doyle by the way - which led to some good natured ribbing about their choice of a 'date' for the evening.)

WCEP Chair, John Christian, coined the phrase and always reminds us of "the Power of Partnership". While like every partnership, this one too hits the odd bump in the road, and the partners have the odd fracas, the Power of Partnership becomes evident when we all get together in one room to review what's been accomplished and what has yet to be done.

As we ended the fall sessions of meetings and turned our thoughts to the long haul of the migration ahead, it was with the thought that we had achieved much and, with the hatch of the wild chicks had reason to celebrate. And this is exactly what the 30 - 40 of us did with a group buffet dinner at Alec's Restaurant in Necedah.

Date: September 21th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

The adventures of Chris and Liz in Necedah

Yesterday brought clear, calm skies at ground level, and tolerable wind conditions for flying up top. In camp, everyone came together outside in front of the Nomad trailer for the usual morning planning huddle. When I stood back a bit, a football team in a huddle is a reasonably good description of what it looked like. The temperature had dropped to below freezing overnight, so we were all bulked up with layers of warm clothes. The only thing missing was the helmets, which at this point were still under arms instead of on heads.

The morning's assignments: Marie and Laurie would go to Site 1 to release the birds for flight instructor Brooke who would train with the already combined cohorts. (Cohorts 2 and 3). Once they were all done and those birds were safely back in the pen, Robert Doyle, (USGS Patuxent) would release the two reluctant fliers who remained at Site 4 so Chris could lead them over to Site 1 to be re-united with the other six in Cohort 1. The six birds in Cohort 1 have yet to be integrated with the combined 1 and 2 Cohort birds, but have been housed in the pen adjacent to them so they can see each other – but not 'get at' each other. In the air, Joe would back up Brooke and Richard would back up Chris.

Chris and I trailed behind Marie and Laurie's van as they headed for the pen and we headed for the blind at Site 1. Then, everyone waited for the pilots to signal. Once it came, Marie and Laurie headed over the hill and down to the pens. The birds dashed out the minute they opened the gate. Like a bunch of puppies let out to play, they began jumping and leaping into the air, opening and flapping their wings. Within a few seconds, four birds, seemingly impatient to get underway, took off on their own down the runway. They flew a fast circuit and returned to land by Brooke's ultralight.

When Brooke rev'd his engine you could almost hear the birds saying, "Goodie, Goodie, Goodie we're flying today." And in an instant, Momma and chicks were aloft. What a well-behaved bunch they were too. They immediately formed up in one long, straight line off Brooke's wing, as if they too were conscious of how short a time is left before flight school is out and they have to do it 'for real'.

Standing in the blind, Chris and I looked across East Rynearson Pond and watched as Brooke treated the folks on the tower to a picture perfect flyby with his young students. While Brooke and the other birds continued on, three decided they had either had enough or wanted breakfast. They returned to the runway to forage in front of the pen. Not long after, the trike with its entourage zipped back, and the grassy area in front of the pen became a blur of white, rust and black.

I wish I had adequate words to describe what watching/seeing this sight is like. Bev's “WOW” is as succinct as I can put it. And we said that - a lot. It is quite simply mouth-agape awesome.

Then Joe flew in and landed too, and after a very brief play time, the four costumes started motioning with puppeted arms to encourage the chicks back into the pen. Some walked right through the gate, some meandered back in with attitude – "I'm going, I'm going, but it's going to be at my speed," and some said, "Nah, forget it, I’m having too much fun out here." A few judiciously doled out grapes persuaded these reluctant ones to join their friends, and the first act of the show was over.

And just in time too. Just as the rump of the last bird was disappearing through the gate, Chris's trike zoomed past and on to the far end of the runway with the last two chicks from Site 4 in tow. By the time he and the two birds turned and reached the front of the pen, the costumes had released the other six Cohort 1 birds for a runway reunion.

Because the air upstairs had turned trashy, there would be no more flying that day, so Cohort 1 would have to be satisfied with a romp with the costumes. The comedic highlight of the morning was when the five great big pseudo Whoopers started circling around flapping their arms. Then they raced off in a jagged line down the runway - their skinny, useless arms flapping madly. In an instant, the better looking Whoopers got the message and joined in the game of follow the leader. They of course could do what the gravity bound costumes couldn't, and rose gracefully into the air for some free flying on their own. Holey WOWIE! They flew around some, but seemed to keep home in sight. They all responded to the goofy looking Whoopers' recorded calls and puppet waves to return. All too soon they too were tucked back in their pen and sadly, the show was over.

As we trudged back to the clearing where we left the car, Joe, Chris, Richard, and Brooke headed back to the hangar and buzzed overhead waving to us. Despite being elated, delighted, happy, awe-struck, and overwhelmed with the morning's show, Chris and I left the blind far from satisfied. It is flat out impossible to see the sight too often or too much. Where's the instant replay button?

Date: September 19th, 2006

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Reporter: Joe Duff

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Class of '06 update

Currently the weather in central Wisconsin stinks!!

It has been a long beautiful summer with lots of opportunity to fly, but lately it has turned cold and wet as if reminding us that winter is close and its time to move. We have only been able to train with the birds once in the last week.

The deteriorating weather coincided with our health check and banding. The birds endured the indignity of being handled, and just when they began to trust us again, the wind and fog kept us grounded for a couple of weeks.

Cohorts 2 and 3 were mixed a few weeks ago and are getting along well. It is now time to integrate the oldest birds, in fact it is past time, and we're getting worried. Yesterday when normally we would have listened to the wind and turned over in bed, we rolled out instead and headed to the hangar because we need to take advantage of every opportunity.

On the surface it was calm, but at 1000 feet the winds were blowing at 20 miles per hour. As the sun rose and began to heat the wetlands, mixing of the levels occurred, and it started to get gusty down low. Discussing our options on our radios as we arrived over Necedah, we all agreed that full training was out of the question.

However, conditions were good enough to risk a short flight with Cohort 1, so Richard Van Heuvelen took off with 8 birds and headed for the east site. Two birds broke off almost immediately and turned back while the other six continued to follow him. He struggled in the trashy air but managed to hold the aircraft level as he made a direct flight to the east site. The six birds landed with him while Brooke and Chris attempted to encourage the others to leave their home pen. After several tries they gave up and headed back to the airport in increasing winds.

Laurie Lin and I slowly moved the birds in Cohort 1 into the south side of the pen so they are now housed next to the rest of the flock. They are separated by a chain link fence so while they can threaten through the wire, they cannot hurt each other. The two that are back at the North site will stay there alone until we are able to move them on the next good day. We hope the isolation will act as abandonment conditioning, and next time they should be eager to follow.

Over the next few days we will let both groups socialize together on the runway where they are too preoccupied with flying and fooling around to fight. Thereafter we will train the two groups separately until its time to remove the barrier and we will have one cohesive flock.

The progress we make over the next week or so will dictate how soon we can leave on migration but it looks like our target date of October 1st was too optimistic. We now feel that the birds and the team could be ready to leave by October 5th - so that's the current plan. Obviously it's a work in progress so stay tuned.

Date: September 17th, 2006 - Entry 3

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Sunday - Wind again

We didn't get the rain the weatherman predicted would fall (today and tomorrow) because of a front moving in, but the winds made it another no-fly day anyway. The decision for the team to stand down was made relatively quickly this morning, but the birds may still see activity later today when the ground crew lets them out of the pen for some exercise.

While doubts prevail about making the October 1st earlier than usual departure date, the crew continues to work on pen repairs and pre-migration preparations. Joe is speculating that an October 5th departure now might be more attainable. More news as it happens.....

Date: September 17th, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Destination Necedah

 Chris and I left Port Perry, Ontario for Necedah, WI in the pouring rain around 6:00am Wednesday morning (the 13th). It was an uneventful drive in the rain which persisted until we reached the border town of Sarnia, where we crossed into the US. It is a long drive from headquarters to the refuge, and between my '45 minute bladder' and having Tim Horton's Coffee-aholic, Chris on board, it takes a little longer. For Chris, the highlight of the trip was finding that this Canadian coffee/donut shop had a toehold in Michigan. Unfortunately for her, they haven't yet moved into Wisconsin.

We caught the ferry across Lake Michigan at Muskegon, and rolled off the ramp into Milwaukee around 6:30pm Michigan time - 7:30 on our body clocks. From there it was an easy run over to Madison to swing up Route 90/94 to Necedah, arriving around 10:30pm. After what seemed like hours and hours of unloading the trunk and my packed to the ceiling car, rooting through suitcases for nightshirts and toothbrushes, we scampered into bed as quick as we could around 1:30am so we could get up at 5 o'clock to be on the tower alert and perky at 6:15am. If you read today's earlier FJ entry you'll see that the long drive and short night's sleep was more than worthwhile.

It was a disappointing trip to the tower on Friday. Less fog to clear than the morning before, but the winds were not co-operating. The time there was fun nonetheless as we visited with Super Craniac Nancy Drew and her husband Jim from North Dakota, and other Whooping crane enthusiasts also hopeful of seeing flight training.

The rest of the day was spent doing the final preparations for our booth at Cranefest; more slugging and lugging from the car and from storage in the aircraft trailer to the fairgrounds, so we could do some advance set-up. The evening was eaten up catching up on emails and trying to accomplish at least a bit of 'real' work.

Saturday, Crane Festival day, dawned foggy and again there was wind. Another no-fly day disappointed a larger than usual crowd at the Observation Tower. Joe popped over from the hangar to meet all the folks however, answering many questions and entertaining the group with stories.

Saturday:

The whole team spent the day at the Necedah Crane Festival.

The pilots took shifts talking with the people who crowded around our display ultralight, and the ground crew helped to explain OM's pictorial display to folks as well as helping Chris and I with merchandise sales.

In between all the action, I perched on a little stool at one end of our booth trying to write the long overdue Field Journal entry below in the hope that at some point I would have an internet connection so I could post it.

All in all it was a terrific day. Old friends stopped by to say hello, as did many new ones. Many who came over to introduce themselves to us were previously only voices on the phone or email addresses. It was wonderful to have some faces to go with the voices and the names.

We were delighted to welcome a couple of very special OM friends to the CraneFest. Former Supervisor of Field Operations, Mark Nipper, and last year's intern and OM's team veterinarian, Angie Maxted, came to visit.

Those of you who are members of OM and receive our magazine 'INformation' will have read in the most recent issue about the new Mark Nipper Supporter of the Year Award.

With little ceremony, but lots of love and gratitude, Joe and Mark presented the very first award to Nancy Rudd of New Glarus, WI.

A committed volunteer who dedicates untold hours to helping Operation Migration, Nan and her husband Bob have for years been both generous supporters and tireless workers on OM's behalf.

We got to have a great visit with staunch supporters Vi and Ed White who made the trip from Illinois. They even jumped into the fray this past summer to do a presentation for us to a nearby community's student career day. Always willing to help and be involved, you will see the product of some of Vi's other hard work in our early morning updates during this fall's migration.

Again this year, Deke Clarke and Rebecca have joined us in camp for CraneFest and will stay on for the WCEP meetings. Deke made so many friends during his active years with OM that there is always a line of people waiting at the side of our booth to say hello and have a word with him. It is great having Rebecca with us too. She is always turning a willing hand to something to help us out.

Some of our stopover hosts (who we cannot name here for reasons everyone will understand) attended the Crane Festival too. It was great to be able to share some off-migration time with them. We also met for the first time, Doug Pellerin and his wife Masako. Masako arrived with armloads of bouquets of beautiful origami cranes she had made, as well as a ready-made accompanying donation box!

Once again, the CraneFest gave us the chance to greet, meet, hug, and chat with many old and new friends. It's impossible to mention them all here, but we hope they all know how wonderful for us to have had the opportunity for the personal contact.

WCEP Chair, John Christian, conducted our draw for the fabulous Whooping crane quilt handmade and donated to OM as a raffle item by Nancy Drew of North Dakota. The lucky winner was - believe it or not - Heather Ray. Ironically, John Christian won the stained glass Whooping crane piece Heather handcrafted and donated to us for last year's raffle.

As usual, Joe's presentation was last on the speaker's agenda and a highlight. And, as usual, the speaker's tent was standing room only. John Christian took advantage of the occasion to present Mark Nipper with a special award on behalf of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership in recognition of his contributions to the project throughout his years on the Operation Migration Team.

At the end of the day volunteers and team members all pitched in and many hands made light work of breaking down the booth and displays and packing up our merchandise. The team wound up the day joining in the Lion's Club chicken BBQ dinner held at the front of the fairgrounds. At just $6 it is a bargain, and it is one of the rare chances we have to 'break bread' as a team.

After dinner we shared stories, experiences, and a lot of joking with the folks there from some of other WCEP partner organizations. The camaraderie and good natured teasing and ribbing - much of it causing big old belly laughs - was a wonderful way for a tired bunch to end the day.

Date: September 17th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Catching up on the news

So much has happened. Where to start?

While weather made Tuesday (the 12th) an unexciting no-fly day, that changed by late afternoon. Here is Brooke's account of what happened.

A root canal is nothing to sneeze at, especially considering the cost. But on Tuesday, refuge manager Larry Wargowsky's root canal was the best piece of luck this project has had in quite a while. On his way back to the refuge from his visit at the dentist Larry spotted our First Family - minus one chick - walking along Route 21; the highway that runs along the south side of the refuge. The speed limit is 55 mph and it is a busy highway with considerable truck traffic.

Richard and I had just finished an axle job on our away-pen trailer when Larry came running over yelling, "Emergency, emergency, emergency!!!" through novacained lips. It took a few moments for us to realize he was not joking as he excitedly explained the situation. Soon, we were racing down Headquarters Road, our hearts pounding in our ears.

When we turned off Headquarters onto Route 21 we were horrified to see in the distance the two parents and the chick walking up the embankment intending to cross the highway. Richard stood on the gas pedal. As if sensing our urgency the old van rose to the occasion, but it seemed to take forever for us to cover the distance.

We quickly donned our costumes, jumped out of the van, and sprinted the final few yards. We managed to block the birds from crossing just as they reached the shoulder of the road. Our helmets fogged up from exertion as we herded the reluctant birds up and across the railroad tracks and down into an adjoining field where they would be safe until we could figure out what to do next. Richard Urbanek arrived on the scene and he joined us for a "What do we do now?" session.

Our assumption was that the parents and the chick had probably flown from their territory, and that the chick likely got tired and dropped into the first open area it saw.
(Later reports were that at one point, an oncoming tractor trailer almost jack-knifed braking to stop in time to avoid hitting them.) Because the birds continued to attempt to walk back toward the highway - and certain death - we decided to capture the chick and box it for transport back to the Family's familiar territory at east Rynerson Pond. We would release it there, hoping that once flushed, the parents would rejoin it before dark. Fortunately, the catch was an easy one, and in no time we were at Site 1 where we were joined by Bev, Laurie, Marie, and Brian.

While Richard Urbanek and company took advantage of the opportunity to color band the chick, Richard VH, Tally and I drove back to the parents' roadside location. Then, running around like the crazy people we really are, we managed to flush the two adults into the air. Returning to the tracking vehicle, we monitored their signals until they landed at nearby DU pond -well short of East Rynerson (sigh). Another flushing effort proved ineffective and our role in the drama ended.
(Once released, the now banded chick flew over to join its sibling who had been on its own since the rest of the family left on their flying sortie. While in good habitat, the parents spent the night at the DU pond, a few miles away from their chicks.) It would be a night of worry for us all, but we took consolation in the fact that the chick was not alone. It just ain't easy being a 'Craniac'. On my last visit to the dentist she recommended I get a root canal. Maybe I should give her a call. We could use some more good luck.

The parents obviously went flying early Wednesday morning as by 11:00am they were back at the DU Pond, again with one of the chicks. They have been seen there off and on ever since, but there has been no sign of the other offspring.

On Friday a capture attempt was made. Success with the female who was color banded and radio tagged, but the male eluded handlers. The tracking team plans another attempt soon. Assuming the other chick (presumably the smaller one) was still near its home territory, and concerned for its welfare, for hours on Friday Richard, Chris, and Joe flew repeated passes over the entire area without seeing anything. This means the last confirmed sighting was late on Tuesday the 12th, and although worried, we are still hopeful.

The First Family had been foraging over a large expanse of the refuge, sometimes as much as a three mile area. While both chicks have now apparently fledged, they not yet expert fliers, and most of the time the family walks. The chicks are now able to forage on their own of course, and while they are becoming less and less dependent on Mom and Pop, they still have a lot to learn. Their early fledging period is dangerous as they are still awkward fliers and their wing flapping is eye-catching for eagles and other predators.

While not miraculous, based on the experience in the Wood Buffalo/Aransas (WB/A) population, the survival of both wild chicks is uncommon. At the same time it is worth noting that this has been a record setting year for twin chicks surviving in the WB/A population. We hope the parents and chicks of our First Family are re-united soon. We will keep you posted.

I just learned yesterday that the Class of 2006 was examined by the Health Team and fitted with bands and radio tracking devices on September 6th and 7th. To do this, they are collected in the pen one at a time, and carried much the way you would carry a football. They resent this affront, and for a few days are too sore and indignant to tolerate the costumes much less follow in the air. Because of this, and the onset of fall weather, they have only trained once in the last week. The combination of these two setbacks means we may have to re-think our hoped for October 1st departure date.

Chris and I were lucky enough to be on the Observation Tower on Thursday for the most recent training flights and did we get an eyeful. While waiting patiently (sort of) for the flyby, we were treated to the sight of two White Birds foraging and calling within 200 - 300 yards of the tower. Their foraging gradually brought them closer to the tower and we had to drop our excited voices to whispers as we ohhed and ahhed. Eventually they wandered back to a distant mound beside the pond and disappeared from view.

Soon after, we heard the familiar buzz of the ultralight engines and moments later we watched as 8 birds from Cohort 1 took to the air. They turned back shortly after take-off so the pilots were able to lead only five birds around the refuge. Joe says they need more time in the air to get used to the extra baggage they now carry, and that we also need more time with them to rebuild their trust.

As usual, the guys did their best to make sure the folks on the tower were treated to the best Whooping crane show possible doing three 'up close and personal' flybys. I would just get my emotions in check and my waterworks shut off and there they would be again and I'd be back to digging out more Kleenex. Thankfully, long time OM supporter and Craniac Darlene Lambert was there. A veteran visitor to the tower, Darlene came prepared with a bag full of tissues - which she shared with us all. The morning's viewing was capped off by a thrill provided by Joe. He had swung around to the south to approach the tower from behind. Starting his descent to the pens from that direction, he flew the birds in low, directly over our heads. Mouths open, cameras forgotten - Holey Wowie Wowie! Pass more Kleenex!

Then.....just when our heart rates were returning to normal and we thought we'd had the biggest buzz of the day, the radio we had with us snapped and crackled. It was Chris Gullikson's voice (who was flying chase) saying he had just spotted part of the First Family near the DU pond Observation Deck. This news sent us galloping down the trail for the car. It took every inch of self-control we had to drive back out Headquarters Road at the 25mph refuge speed limit to try and see if we could catch a glimpse. GLIMPSE!?!? Look below to see the eyeful we got of Mom and chick! I think I'm in love the person who invented the telephoto lens. (Believe me - this photo doesn't even begin to do the sight justice!)

Joe, Chris and I are all having email woes on top of which our ability to connect to the internet is somewhat sporadic, but hopefully we'll have more here for you to read soon.

Date: September 12th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Tracking/Monitoring Report

Time is at a premium as we scramble to prepare for this weekend's Crane Festival in Necedah. Yea! Chris to the rescue. Below is a chart she prepared summarizing the latest report of the Tracking Monitoring Team.
WEEKLY TRACKING OF 2001-2005 BIRDS-58 birds (33 males, 24 females) + 4 DAR (1 male, 3 female)=61
plus 2 chicks = 63 birds Week of Sept 3 - 9, 2006
Wisconsin and area-47  
101 202   Necedah area
102**     Necedah area
105 204   Necedah area
201 306   Juneau Co
303 317   Necedah area
205     Juneau Co
208 313   Necedah area 
211 217   Necedah area - 2 chicks hatched June 22/06 largest of two chicks-ground effect flying Sept 5 at 75 days
212 419   Wood Co
213** 218   Necedah area transmitter on both birds replaced Sept 7
216     Necedah
301* 311   Necedah
408 501   Necedah 
307 512 519 523 524   Juneau Co
310 402 403 412   Juneau Co
309***+ 520+   Wood Co 
312** 316   Juneau Co
401     Necedah area
416 209   Juneau Co
505 506   Necedah area
514 521 532D   Juneau Co
415     Adams Co - Aug 17
510 511   Necedah
Outside Core Area-10  
407 508   Sept 8: Morrison Co MN
502 503 507   Sept 11: Winnebago Co IA
509   w/SH Barron Co WI not seen since June 18
420   w/SH Rusk Co
516   Dane Co
527D   Winnebago Co, WI w/SH
528D   Marathon Co w/SH
UNKNOWN:Last recorded-2  
107**   Adams Co WI; observed Apr 18

522

  June 14: attempted retrieval from Newago Co, flushed-flew southward w/30 sandhills to Muskegon Co.location unknown
East of Lake Michigan-2    

318*

  last reported Aug 9 Mason Co MI
533D   Barry Co MI either alone or w/sandhills Aug 19
* retrieved from Michigan ** nonfunctional transmitter
***retrieved from North Carolina +retrieved from New York

Date: September 11th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Necedah Crane Festival

Just a reminder that the Lion's Club annual Necedah Crane Festival is just around the corner -Saturday, September 16th to be exact. Held at the Necedah Fairgrounds, the event features almost a dozen presentations/speakers (including OM's own Joe Duff at 3pm), lots of educational exhibits, and booths offering offering crafts and other merchandise.

This year, visitors can fly into the Necedah airport (DAF) for the day, eat breakfast, take a tour, see a variety of birds, wildlife, and exhibits. There will be free shuttle transportation from the airport to the festival. There are also buses departing from the fairgrounds at various times throughout the day for a tour of the refuge. The speakers and tours will run all day, as will the wildlife craft sales, educational booths, and the Lion's Club kitchen.

For additional information visit: http://www.whooping-crane-festival.com/index.htm

Date: September 8th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

W601 and W602

While not yet fledged, chicks W601 and W602 are now flying in ground effect. It can only be a matter of days before they discover that, like their parents, they too can defy gravity.

Once they have fledged, for both biological and legal reasons, the Tracking and Monitoring Team will attempt color banding and radio tagging the two wild-hatched chicks before the First Family begins its autumn migration. Agreements in place require that for the first 10 years of the project, Whooping cranes in the reintroduced Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) be distinguishable from individuals in the natural, fully endangered Wood Buffalo-Aransas population.

Individual identification and radio tracking is also necessary in order to document and assess their movements, their integration into the population, and their survival. Additionally, the scientific data collected via tracking and monitoring will assist the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership in its ongoing effort build and protect the Eastern Migratory Population we have all worked so hard to establish.

As evidenced by their repeated visits to our training site with youngsters in tow, the First Family parents are accepting of OM's costumed crew and of being in proximity of our ultralights. By their behavior, they have demonstrated to their chicks that these 'strange beings/things' represent no danger. Because of this, and the fact that 211 and 217 were themselves costumed-reared, it is hoped that the same techniques will prove equally safe and effective in the attempt to band the two wild chicks.

While the same costumed and bird handling protocols used with all the EMP's reintroduced birds will be used in the attempt to capture, band, and radio tag the wild chicks, it must be acknowledged that there are always risks. Capture myopathy is at all times a possibility. Routine health checks are planned to be carried out at the same time.

We will keep you posted on this planned activity - stay tuned.

Date: September 6th, 2006 - Entry 5

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Status Report on Migration 2006

Below is a photo representation of 2005's Migration MileMaker sponsorships as of this time last year, and a comparison set of photos representing where we are in 2006.

MileMaker Sponsorships as of September 2005

MileMaker Sponsorships as of September 2006

And we thought last year was tough!

Not yet a MileMaker Sponsor?
Please don't wait. We really need your help now.

Date: September 6th, 2006 - Entry 4

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

White Bird Update / Tracking Team Report

Below is the a condensed version of the latest report received from Richard Urbanek.

The Eastern Migratory Population currently stands at 63 individuals. (34 males, 27 females, and 2 chicks.) As of the end of last week, there were 56 adults/sub adults and 2 chicks in Wisconsin. DAR 533* remained in Barry County, Michigan, and 318 was last reported in Mason County, Michigan August 9. The locations of 3 birds were unknown.

Birds not recently located
522 - fled Oceana County for Muskegon County Michigan with ~30 Sandhills June 14 when he was flushed during reconnaissance for a retrieval attempt.
107* - last reported in Adams County, Wisconsin April 18 (non-functional transmitter)
509 - last detected in Fayette County Iowa June 18.

The First Family
211 and 217* continue rearing their chicks in their territory on East Rynearson Pool. The chicks are now 77 days old.

Location of White Birds in Wisconsin

On the refuge or in the Necedah/core area are:
101 & 202*, 102*, 105 & 204, 201* & 306, 303* & 317, 205, 208 & 313*, 212 & 419*, 213 & 218*, 216, 301* & 311, 408 & 501*, 307, 512, 519, 523, 524, 310, 402, 403, 412, 309* & 520*, 312* & 316, 401, 502*, 503, 507*, 416 & 209*, 505, 506, 514 & 521*, 407 & 508*, 415*, 510*, 511, DAR532.

Outside the core area are:
420*, 516, DAR527*, DAR528*

408's non functional VHF transmitter was replaced August 28. Thanks to Sara Zimorski and Stephanie Krueger (ICF), Robert Doyle and Brian Clauss (PWRC), Stacy Kerley (USFWS), and Brooke Pennypacker and Laurie Lin (OM) for capture assistance.

Date: September 6th, 2006 - Entry 3

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Reporter: Chris Gullikson

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Amalgamate: to mix or merge so as to make a combination; blend; unite; combine.

On August 27th we flew the 5 birds of Cohort 2 over to the south site to be penned next to the 5 younger birds of Cohort 3. This pen is the largest of our three training sites, and we are able to divide the pen into two separate halves with each side having its own wet and dry pen. For the past 10 days we have allowed the two groups to socialize with each other on the runway after flight training. The aggression between these two groups has lessened over the past few days, so the decision was made to remove the barriers inside the pen and combine the two cohorts.

Yesterday, due to fog and wind, we were unable to train for the second day in a row, but it cleared up enough by mid-morning to let the birds out to socialize with each other on the runway and get some flight exercise. While Brian, Bev, Laurie, and Marie opened the two sets of double doors on the pen, Brooke and I strategically placed ourselves on the runway with cameras in hand. Its always fun to stand upwind of the pen doors when the birds are released. They are always so eager to fly, and instinctively point into the wind to facilitate liftoff. Within moments I had birds flying past me on either side and I had to duck as one bird flew right at me and over my head.

After flying a short circuit around the pen, the birds landed and began to forage for grasshoppers and other various critters that had the misfortune of being spotted. We observed some spirited sparring between a few birds, but nothing alarming that would cause injury. With the birds outside on the runway, it was time to tend to things inside the pen. The water pans need to get scrubbed out every couple of days, fresh crane food added to the feeders, and any food lying on the ground needs to be scooped up. A quick visual check of the top netting and pen structure and we head back out to coax the birds back inside the pen.

When we had arrived, we had heard some unison calls a ways to the south, and as we were putting the birds back into the pen I noticed two cranes standing at the far end of the runway. They were standing in the glare of the sun and while I was trying to identify them, they became airborne and flew to within 100 feet of us. I was expecting to see two adults, but to my surprise it was one adult and one chick from the First Family.

It appears the chicks are now able to fly for a good distance in ground effect. Shortly after this the other adult joined the group and the two parents began to unison call. This must have infuriated 618 for he rushed over to one of the adults and they began to jump-rake each other without making any real contact. While Brooke ran over to save 618 from becoming squashed like a grape, I ran interference for the other chicks who were now racing over to join in the fray.

It can be a bit intimidating turning your back on a full grown pair of Whooping Cranes who are defending their territory and chicks. As I slowly herded the remaining chicks back to the pen, I kept a careful watch on the two adults who were just a few feet behind me doing some incredible threat displays, foot stamping, and constant unison calling.

We were able to get the rest of the birds back into the pen without further incident, and afterwards we watched from the blind as all four members of the First Family wandered around the pen doors, looking for a treat that may have been dropped by one of the handlers. After a quick search of the area, the group flew in ground effect to the south end of the runway where they disappeared from view into the tall grass.

We will go out a few times during the day to check on our larger cohort and make sure that there is no sign of aggression. Today is the first day of health checks, stay tuned.

Below are a couple of wonderful photos taken by Chris.

Unison calling with a wild chick in the background. 620 and 618 have a friendly sparring match.

Date: September 6th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Brooke Pennypacker

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Hail to the Chief!

Note: Apologies for the pause between updates folks. Good ole technology is to blame. My brand new computer had to make a trip to the manufacturer for repairs, so I've been out of commission and unable to post to the field journal or do much else for that matter. I think you will find that Joe and Brooke's entries below (LOL) make up for it however. Liz

As you will see when you read Joe's update below, we had a visit from the First Family at Site 1 last Friday. It was a momentous occasion to be sure and one we had been anxiously awaiting for some time. But before Joe left for the trip back to the office, he asked me to write about the initial visit of the Chief a few days before. So here goes.....

We had just landed after a 10 minute flight; the Cohort 3 birds, the trike, and me, when the sound track from the movie Jaws began ringing in my ears. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the Chief himself winging his way low over the pen towards our little gathering.

Too late to circle the wagons I thought, as I struggled like a spastic spider to disconnect myself from the trike to attempt to protect the chicks from what I feared would be a bloodbath. After all, we were on the Chiefs turf and it had only been a few days before that we had witnessed him violently chase away four other adult Whoopers that had mistakenly landed on the runway. I'd also witnessed his victory in an aerial dogfight with 2 Sandhill  cranes; a performance that would make any WWII ace proud. He was tough, this Chief and ready to protect his First Lady and two chicks at all costs.

But I need not have worried, for just as the Chief landed, ready for battle, our own 622 launched into a preemptive strike, charging the Chief and for a moment they stood toe to toe, beak to beak like a couple of lawn statues. Now, along with being the second youngest chick in our flock, 622 started life as an egg in the Calgary Zoo - which makes him a Canadian. This fact alone might cause one to expect his strategy for victory might be to make the Chief laugh by bombarding him with Newfie jokes, or driving him to tears by complaining about all the unfair taxes Canadians are forced to pay, or, perhaps even elicit his sympathy with stories of just how long it takes to get a doctor's appointment in Canada under socialized medicine.

But no. It was to be a good old fashioned shootout, winner take all. They stood fully erect and motionless for a few seconds, each awaiting the other's move. A thought balloon, "Go ahead - Make My Day," could be seen over the head of 622, and finally, in a flash, he grabbed the back of the Chief's head in his beak and yanked out a large tuft of feathers. The Chief, instantly realizing this open rebellion could cost him not only his throne but the bottom he sits on it with, did an immediate about face and began a strategic retreat over to the trike. Meanwhile, sensing a rout, 622's young flock mates jumped into the fray and chased the Chief up the hill.

The time had come for the poor Chief to be protected, so I did my best to arouse myself from my normal state of confusion and turned to the only thing over which I had any control - my trike. (It must be said here that those who have personally witnessed some of my landings might take issue with my use of the word control!)

I jumped back into the seat, revved the engine, and blasted down the runway hoping the chicks would rather fly than participate in a massacre. And to my relief follow they did. As we lifted off, I looked back to see the Chief flying at the tail end, perhaps an old habit had overcome his common sense.

As we flew over the rest of the First Family, the Chief broke off and landed next to his First Lady and two chicks. They immediately stretched their necks skyward in a unison call, proclaiming his victory. We continued around the circuit and as we came in for a landing I would swear I saw 622 do a 'victory roll'.

A few minutes later Laurie and Beverly had all our chicks safely back into their pen and I took off. But before aiming for home, I flew a low sweep over the First Family. Now I cant read lips, or people's minds, or even my own handwriting half the time, but I can on occasion read 'beaks'. And, as I flew low  over the First Family on my way back to the airport, I'm absolutely sure I heard the First Lady say, as she leaned over to her triumphant, magnificent Chief, "Nice haircut"!

Date: September 6th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Joe Duff

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Hail, hail, the gang's all here!

Considering that we lead birds with airplanes there seems to be a lot of driving involved. Because of fundraising obligations it feels like I have already made the journey between Ontario and Wisconsin about 8 times this season. My stays at both ends are becoming shorter, meaning I get less time flying with birds than usual. This is a situation that I regret, but before I made my last 14 hour drive home I was able to work with the oldest birds at the north site four days in a row.

There are 8 birds in Cohort 1, and they are so well conditioned to the aircraft I think they would follow it through a barrel roll. Once the pen door is opened they run out single file with the last one jumping the threshold like it may bite him on the way through. We have to wait patiently until they all clear of the gate and then start the take off.

Inevitably, one or two of the more courageous charge in front of the aircraft and inadvertently block the progress. On the last flight I took with them, all 8 birds took up a position in front of the wing and danced expectantly waiting for the revving engine to signal the take off. I guess it's too much to expect them to line up behind the wing - so I moved the aircraft slowly ahead hoping to push through the crowd and make a run of it. We taxied like this all the way to the north end of the runway and turned around only to find two white birds had landed to block a southbound take-off.

After a nice but anxious walk up and down both runways I was finally able to lift off to the west with all the birds following into the low fog. We weaved back and forth avoiding the low cloud and popped out over west Rynearson Pond.

We headed south and across Highway 21 just as three trucks, several cars, and a train were going by. They all looked down, but instead of scattering as has happened in the past, they closed ranks and we crossed the highway in tight formation. We turned back, and on the second trip over they didn't seem to notice anything unusual. We passed low over the tower and I could see Brooke making large circuits of the east site with the ten birds from Cohorts 2 and 3 in tow. We landed after 32 minutes - their longest flight yet.

On the way back to the airport we normally pass over the territory of the First Family and check out how the chicks are faring. We stay high, and only long enough to spot the two fawn coloured shapes before moving on. Looking over to the east site I could see Brooke on the ground with chicks all around him and two adults just off to one side. Sure enough, there between the two white birds were the wild-hatched chicks.

I landed and taxied up to both pilots and handlers staring in disbelief and not really knowing what to do. I guess we should have expected that one day the wild parents would bring their chicks to visit, but we didn't have a plan, and as it turns out we didn't need one. We watched for signs of aggression, occasionally stepping forward to intervene, but nothing dangerous happened. Eventually, after some photos and a long appraisal of their condition and progress towards fledging, we crowned them off to the north and back into the marsh.

The chicks look healthy, but one is much larger than the other. In fact, it is bigger than the adult female. At one point, both ran into the wind flapping their wings but didn't get airborne. They should fledge in a week to ten days. The smaller of the two stayed very close to its parents while the larger wandered, staying off a distance from the crowd. 

Our strict isolation protocol, designed to keep birds wild, has been questioned at times. Some feel that getting close to wild birds does not make them tame immediately so one infraction of our rules wouldn't result in complacent birds. It was interesting to see how the wild chicks completely ignored objects as foreign as pens, aircraft, and handlers, simply because their parents showed no fear. It clearly demonstrates that chicks take their cues from the adults, and that we as surrogates must be diligent about what we expose them to.

Hail, hail, the gang's all here. What a sight! The First Family visits the crew and Class of '06.

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