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Photo Journals!

Wintering Whoopers

Ultralight-guided Migration


 

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: May 31st 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Activity:

Egg/Chick Allocation

Notes: Tom Stehn, (Co-chair of the Whooping Crane Recovery Team, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Whooping Crane Coordinator, Aransas NWR) leads a weekly conference call of the flock managers of all six of the Whooping crane breeding centers around North America . These calls take place during the breeding season so the centers can share information, discuss potential pairings, and allocate eggs for the various reintroduction programs. With the breeding season drawing to a close, the final call was held yesterday. The report below is a synopsis of the telephone meeting. As egg production is essentially finished for the season, the totals below should be close to final numbers.

This year's eggs have come from The Audubon Species Survival Center in Louisiana (SSC), the Calgary Zoo in Canada , USGS Patuxent WRC in Maryland, and ICF in Wisconsin, all of which had good production seasons. Calgary literally shot above what their flock had ever produced before. Given that Patuxent could have faced a disastrous season with the February snow storm that damaged nearly all pens, its results are so much better than expected.

Tom Stehn commented, "There are some very talented and dedicated people at all the captive facilities that make this happen, for which we should all be grateful."

To date, 19 chicks have been hatched for the WCEP project and are destined for ultralight training. One chick (616) has some health problems. Three more eggs are still incubating. In addition, there is one chick, (609) and one egg, that will be genetic holdbacks.

At ICF there are 4 chicks hatched for the DAR program. ICF also has 3 fertile eggs, and 4 unknown eggs (3 of which are likely to be fertile). 1 chick, 7 fertile eggs and 1 unknown egg will either be assigned to DAR or held back for genetic purposes. 1 chick and 1 fertile egg are definite genetic holdbacks.

The numbers above include 2 eggs that are scheduled to be shipped June 6th from Calgary to ICF, and 3 eggs that were shipped from Patuxent to ICF on May 29th.

"It looks like production will fully meet and/or exceed the WCEP egg quotas requested back in February at the Whooping Crane Recovery Meetings," said Tom. "It is inevitable," he added, "that a few chicks will develop health problems, but I think the numbers [given above] anticipate some of those situations."

Date: May 31st 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Activity:

Tracking Team Report

Tracking Team Update for May 21-26

Distribution at the end of the week:  [* = female]
55 - Wisconsin
6 - Iowa (*501, *508, *509, 512, 514, *519)
3 - Michigan (318, 522, DAR533)

Nesting News: 211 and 217 re-nested at their 2005 nest site near the East Rynearson Pool dike and began incubating on May 23rd.

Health Concerns: 216’s leg injury appeared significantly improved and his limp was much reduced.

As always, thanks to the Tracking Team, and to Kelly Maguire and Sara Zimorski for additional assistance. Thanks to Terry Kohler, Mike Mauer, and Tom Trester (Windway Capital Corporation) for aircraft support.

Special thanks and goodbye…..
Lara Fondow, former intern and research associate at ICF, leaves this week to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin. For the past four years, Lara has served as Monitoring Crew Chief and primary tracker of the reintroduced eastern migratory whooping crane population. She performed the duties of her demanding position skillfully and professionally. Her dedication and 24/7 commitment to the project’s success cannot be overemphasized.

Lara's affiliation with the WCEP project will continue however, through an appointment by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We wish Lara all the very best. She will be missed!


Date: May 30th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Activity:

Two more chicks!

Notes:  We expect a 'real' report from Mark soon, but in the meantime we are tickled to be able to tell you that 19 and 20 have hatched! Below is an updated 'Chick Chart'. (* is genetic holdback.)

WCEP Bird #

Hatch Date

Sex

Egg Source

601

5-May

M

ICF

602

6-May

F

Necedah

603

7-May

F

Necedah

604

8-May

F

Calgary

605

9-May

F

PWRC

606

11-May

M

PWRC

607

13-May

M

ICF

608

13-May

F

PWRC

*NA

14-May

UK

PWRC

610

14-May

M

PWRC

611

18-May

F

Audubon

612

18-May

M

ICF

613

19-May

UK

ICF

614

20-May

UK

Calgary

615

21-May

UK

PWRC

616

23-May

UK

PWRC

617

25-May

UK

PWRC

618

27-May

UK

Calgary

619

28-May

UK

Calgary

620

28-May

UK

Calgary


Date: May 27th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Mark Nipper

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Patuxent

Activity:

More hatches

Notes:  As of today there are 18 chicks hatched; #17 from a PWRC egg and #18 from an egg received from Canada's Calgary Zoo.

#16 is still of special concern with some serious health problems. The rest are healthy and doing well. Training and socialization are progressing. We have begun taking chicks out to the White Series pens (see explanation below). We recently received the sexes for numbers 1 through 12, except for #9 whose results were incomplete (see chick list in previous journal entry). So far we have a good balance of females.

#1 and 3 are getting along well together. They are training for 15 to 20 minutes and doing fairly well with the trike. #3 is still rather distracted, but so far it is not hindering #1. #4 and 5 were a good group, but #4 is becoming more aggressive. So long as they both keep moving, they are alright. Hopefully it will stay that way if not get better.

The rest of the chicks are still training and walking separately. #2 is remains highly aggressive and is a pain in the butt to train (see photo in tub). She follows for a couple minutes then turns crazy. She will see something that scares her to death and start running and screaming, then she suddenly spots something that looks interesting and just wanders off like nothing ever happened.

#8 is turning out to be very similar (see pics). She too is highly aggressive; tries to kill #7 through the fence all day long. This bird is usually distracted and hard to train or walk. Thankfully, the rest of the little guys are all walking and training pretty well.

The big breakthrough yesterday was getting birds out to the White Series pens for the first time. There are multiple sets of pens at PWRC, most named after colors. The White Series (WS) is where the WCEP chicks go live when they get older. Yesterday we walked three birds out there and let them hang out next to each other. #1 and 3 went to one pen, while #2 came out and hung out next door. Then #4 and 5 went out with #6 next door. We take them out to the pens at the same time so they can get used to seeing each other through the fence as well as all the commotion that will be involved. All it all it went very well. We will continue to walk them out there briefly until they have acclimated enough for us to try leaving them out over night.


Date: May 26th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Activity:

Chick Chart

We have a total of 16 chicks now. Mark advises that the most recently hatched chick, 616, is small and underweight, and that the crew is concerned. 

For those of you keeping track, here is Mark's updated chart.

WCEP Bird #

Hatch Date

Sex

Egg Source

601

5-May

M

ICF

602

6-May

F

Necedah

603

7-May

F

Necedah

604

8-May

F

Calgary

605

9-May

F

PWRC

606

11-May

M

PWRC

607

13-May

M

ICF

608

13-May

F

PWRC

*NA

14-May

UK

PWRC

610

14-May

M

PWRC

611

18-May

F

Audubon

612

18-May

M

ICF

613

19-May

UK

ICF

614

20-May

UK

Calgary

615

21-May

UK

PWRC

616

23-May

UK

PWRC



Date: May 25th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Activity:

Crossing the species line

At the end of his update yesterday, (see below) Joe talked about cross-species synergy. Hmmm, I wonder what one would call this species?

Mickey McCrane?

Think the job must be getting to this poor soul? She's seems to be engaged in a serious conversation with a recycle bin and a duck.


Date: May 24th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Joe Duff

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Activity:

Disney and IMBD

Notes:  Apart from the founding organizations of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership there are several agencies and people who have been involved with this project from the beginning. Time flies when you are having fun, or too busy to notice, but it's hard to believe that we have known the people at The Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund for over 5 years. In that time they have donated over $100,000 to OM , and become one of our biggest single contributors. In addition to financial support, they have offered advice and guided us over a steep fundraising learning curve.

When the Project Direction Team decided we needed to short-stop birds at the Halpata Tastanaki site near Dunellen Florida , a new pen was needed. Many of the Disney staff volunteered their time to wade knee deep in oozing mud to help with its construction. Now we have a place to hold the birds temporarily, or, a new winter home depending on the needs of the Monitoring Team.

With 64 birds migrating to Florida and more being added every season, the responsibility for their health care has become a substantial commitment. Marilyn Spalding, DVM of the University of Florida , has been providing this service on a volunteer basis since the beginning. She also provides health care for the non-migratory flock. With the odd injury or infection, this job has been manageable, but as the numbers grow, so do the cases that need veterinary attention. Like any responsible scientist, Marilyn was concerned that a time would come when she couldn't provide adequate care. The dedicated staff at Disney again stepped forward and offered veterinary services for any of our injured or sick birds in the Florida area.

This past Saturday (May 13th) was International Migratory Bird Day and our friends at Disney asked us to display our aircraft at Conservation Station in Animal Kingdom Park. It meant a 27 hour drive pulling the long aircraft trailer, but the chance to visit with our friends and gain invaluable exposure was too good to resist. We needed to deliver a spare training aircraft to Patuxent in Maryland and another one to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington , so we made the trip a multi-purpose one.

Disney's Zoological Manager, Scott Tidmus, was very obliging. Besides assisting with setting up our display - including our two aircraft, he also arranged accommodation for Liz, Brooke, and I at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Animal Kingdom has a lot to offer, and visitors to the park wouldn't normally see the Lodge unless they are a guest there. But it is so amazing it really should be part of the tour. The building itself is spectacular, with authentic African design and artefacts. From its real thatched roof to the genuine museum quality pieces on display, the entire place is an incredible work of art. The Lodge itself backs on to the savannah, and from your room you can watch giraffes and zebras feeding or strolling by.

On Friday we had a chance to present our project to interested Disney cast members at a 'Brown Bag lunch'. We also had an opportunity to visit with ex-OM'er John Thomton. John worked with us last year at Patuxent and Necedah and then accepted a job with Disney before we left on the migration - a point we often mention with tongue in cheek. 

Linda Walker (representing Florida US Fish and Wildlife Service) and her husband Hal joined Liz, Brook and I, and everyone spent a beautiful, sunny, 91 degree Saturday answering questions, promoting the project, and meeting conservation minded people. Our display and aircraft were framed by blooming hibiscus, palm trees and the gigantic animal motif floating over the entrance to Conservation Station.

The support and encouragement we have received from Disney on so many levels has helped make this project the success it is. It's a classic example of cross-species synergy; a little mouse helping out an endangered bird. 

 

 

Date: May 23rd, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

FNMP update

Notes:  There's lots of news today. In addition to a new report from the tracking team (posted below), we just received an update on the Florida Non-Migratory Population from Marty Folk.

Our last nest, #12, hatched!  It is possible, but unlikely, that we'll see re-nests or new nests at this time, nonetheless, it has been a record-setting breeding season.

Season Totals (* ties a record, **breaks a record)
12 pairs nested *
12 nests were initiated
  7 nests hatched **
  7 pairs hatched at least 1 chick **
  9 chicks hatched **
  6 chicks survived
  5 nests failed
  7 un-hatched eggs were collected
[2 fertile, 2 not fertile, 2 probably not fertile, 1 is pending exam]

Since my last update, the northern part of the Whooper range got 1 - 2 inches of rain. Further south there was less than an inch. We have a lot of catching up to do, as far as rain is concerned. 

Our oldest chicks are approaching the size of their parents! The photo (left) below by Kathy Chappell shows the size of one chick in relation to its mother as they forage in a field.

The chicks are also exercising their wings in preparation for flight (see photo by Jeannette Parker of a family in a marsh) and may become airborne any day now.

 

Date: May 23rd, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Tracking Team report for the week of May 14th to 20th.

Notes:  Estimated distribution at the end of the week was: Wisconsin 50, Iowa 11, and Michigan 3. (F=female)

No new nests or re-nests were recorded. F202 was occasionally observed sitting on a nest at Site 4 while 101 foraged elsewhere, but apparently no eggs were laid.

516 was retrieved from Michigan and released on Necedah NWR. Retrieval of 522 was also attempted but was unsuccessful.

According to PTT readings, DAR 533 remained in Barry County, Michigan. 318 was found at his yearling summering area in Oceana County , Michigan.

216's leg injury appeared slightly improved. His former mate, 303 was closely associating with 408 at Goose Pool on the refuge by the end of the week.

PTT readings indicated that F508 ranged widely across northern Iowa during the week. She and F501, 509, 512, 514 and F519 had last been recorded in La Crosse County , WI . No visuals were reported from Iowa to confirm that the group remained intact. F502, 5033, 505, 506, and F507 remained in Winnebago County , IOWA .

Thanks to the Tracking Team, Lara Fondow, Chris Malachowski, and Richard Urbanek for their usual great report, and also to Kelly Maguire for additional tracking assistance. A big thank you goes to Terry Kohler, Mike Frakes, Charles Koehler, Mike Mauer, and Stu Walker (Windway Capital Corporation), Sara Zimorski (ICF), and Richard Vanhuevelen (OM) for bird retrieval.
 

Date: May 21st, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Aransas/Wood Buffalo Flock

 

Notes:  Still playing catch up after our whirl-wind trip. (More on the trip in the next posting.) Below is Tom Stehn's latest report from USFWS, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

On his most recent aerial census of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas (conducted on May 18th), Tom Stehn reported 5 sub-adults still present.

Tom said he was surprised that only one more Whooping crane had initiated migration over the past two weeks. He noted that it was possible that the 5 remaining birds would still migrate, however, he said it was also possible that one or more could over-summer at Aransas.

"The cranes all showed a considerable amount of brown-tinged body feathers, indicative of old, worn-out feathers that will be replaced in the next molt, said Tom. "Compared to the beautiful snow-white plumage of an adult Whooper, these cranes are so dingy-colored that they are almost a disgrace."

Date: May 21st, 2006

Links

Reporter: Mark Nipper

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Patuxent

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Early Training

 

Notes:  Training is progressing, socializing has begun, and there are still more mouths hatching every day.

611 and 612 hatched May 18 (both from PWRC birds)
613 hatched May 19 (ICF)
614 hatched May 20 (PWRC
615 hatched May 21 (PWRC

Yesterday we began to walk the birds together.  #1, 2, and 3 went for a walk together, and then #4 and 5.   To do this we bring the birds out one at a time and meet in a neutral area. Then, as the birds come together, we try to keep moving at first so the birds don't have a chance to get too interested in each other. After a while we stop and let them get to know each other. It is good to do this in an open area with plenty of room for them to get away. We will also go to the pond since there are lots of things to distract them from trying to harm one another. If everything goes well we will walk them together for a few days, then try training them together.

In the first group (see pic) it was obvious right away that #2 was going to be trouble. This chick is the biggest of the whole flock so far, outweighing #1 and 3 by a good amount. While #1 and 3 were being very amiable towards each other, they were also running from #2 at the slightest glance. We separated out #2 and walked away with #1 and 3. After we were out of sight, #2 was led back to the Propagation building. #1 and 3 spent another ten minutes or so together and got along just fine. They are both a little afraid of each other. Today we walked these two again and they did great. This could make for either a good or bad training group however. #1 is an expert in the circle pen while #3 doesn't pay hardly any attention. #1 could help #3 to pay attention better, or #3 could distract #1 - we will just have to try and see what happens.

#2 will have to be exercised/trained alone but will continue to be housed next to the others. Hopefully some of the aggression will be settled through the fence. If the other two become more of a group, then #2 may have less of an impact. This chick is still scared but is training better and is following well now.

#4 and 5 did pretty good together their first time. #4 was mildly aggressive a few times but it was never too serious. #5 pretty much just ignored the other bird and was looking for treats. They were walked again today and were great. This duo should make for a good training pair. #4 is pretty scared and distracted some, but stills follows. #5 has jumped right into training with no trouble. The first time we started the trike it had little to no reaction and was able to do a few laps. Usually we just run the engine a few minutes then try moving the plane the next day.

Date: May 19th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Mark Nipper

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Patuxent

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

News Round-up # 3

 

Notes:  The circle pen is a 25' diameter circle of 2 foot tall vinyl coated fencing. There is another smaller circle of fencing in the center. The chicks go on the inside and the trike on the outside. There is a ring of sand around the inside of the circle to give the chicks a smooth place to run and an easy place to give them mealworms. The inner circle is there to keep the chicks closer to the outside fence and therefore the trike. They learn very quickly that it is easier to run through the middle.


Date: May 19th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Mark Nipper

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Patuxent

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

News Round-up # 2

 
Notes:  (Received from Mark today)

611 and 612 hatched out yesterday (May 18th). 511 came from the ACRES Audubon Center in Louisiana ; 612 from ICF. Late last night we received six more eggs from the Calgary Zoo. So much for a slow year.

Chicks 601 - 605 are going out to the circle pen with the trike601 is doing great with laps. 602 is still a little nervous. 603 is easily distracted and a bit crazy. 604 and 605 are both still rather scared but have been gradually calming down. 607 - 610 have started to go outside, and were out for their first big walk on Saturday. 606 - 610 have all started to better maintain weight and hydration through the day.

At around five days old the chicks get to make their first trip outdoors. On nice days, we open their doors to outside and lead them into the runs behind their pens. The runs are about 4-5' wide by 20' long.

As soon as the chicks are eating well on their own, we set their food outside to encourage them to get out and get some exercise. Up until now they have only eaten grain out of a bowl with the puppet. They need to know to forage for food on the ground. While outside the chicks learn to eat mealworms too. The puppet will pick up a worm and get the chick to eat it. Then some are put on the ground and usually the chick will start pecking at them right away. The birds' ability to quickly spot and pick up treats is essential to the training process.

Once they are 10 days old the chicks receive a footbath tub for extra water. They can get in it to cool off on warm days. Hopefully things will soon get caught up enough around here to write field journal entries more often.

Date: May 19th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

News Round-up # 1

 

Notes:  Our apologies for the gap in field journal postings folks, but neither Joe nor I could get an internet connection for the past few days. Below are Mark's two latest updates.

Sunday, May 14
We have nine mouths to feed now. 
606 hatched May 11
607 hatched May 13
608 hatched May 13
609 hatched May 14 (genetically valuable and will be held at PWRC)

These four little guys are looking okay so far. The three newest are still too sleepy and wobbly to do much. 601 - 605 are going outside now for walks. 601 - 603 are training with the trike.  Yesterday, (May 13) the chicks got their first taste of the trike moving around the circle. This usually isn't too big of an ordeal once they become used to the engine being started. 601 was able to do 5 minutes worth of laps right away. 602 is doing alright, but is still scared when the plane fires up. 603 is calm most of the time, but is still a little skittish. 

These three chicks are all gaining weight very well and are even getting too fat. When the chicks gain weight too quickly their legs can't grow fast enough to support the weight properly and it causes them to grow incorrectly. This is why the chicks are exercised so much with training, walks, and swimming.

Monday, May 15
An
gie Maxted was at Patuxent on May 15 to give a talk and she stayed for a visit. She helped out quite a bit with the chicks and was acting vet for a couple days. These are pics of our walk with 602 to the circle pen and foraging pond.

Date: May 14th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Joe Duff

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Disney's Animal Kingdom Orlando, Florida

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Hatch Update

 

Notes:  This is the time of the breeding season when we wait with baited breath to hear how many birds we will have to work with for the year. The snow storm at Patuxent that caused damage to the pens delayed the breeding, and we are a few weeks behind. Not all of the eggs that are laid are viable, and some of the chicks that hatch may be held back to replenish the captive flock. It all depends on how many chicks hatch, when they hatch, and who their parents are.

As the season unfolds, the flock managers from all the breeding centers telephone conference weekly with the chair of the Whooping Crane Recovery Team, and the decisions are made one chick at a time. Production at the International Crane Foundation is up this year, and the Calgary Zoo in Canada has sent several eggs to Patuxent for addition to the WCEP flock. As of the moment, we have 6 chicks hatched, two that will hatch in the next few hours, and a bunch of possibilities.

So it's a waiting game, but the season that we thought could be a bust, may just be a bumper year. It is hard to believe it's all about to begin again. Where did the year go?

Happy Mother's Day!

(International Migratory Bird Day at Disney's Animal Kingdom was fantastic!! We will tell you more in future journal entries.)

Mark Nipper sent along some photos for us to post, but as usual, being on the road is causing us some connection and email issues. Below are some of the photos we've managed to access. Hopefully we will be able to share more with you soon.

Date: May 13th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Joe Duff

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Disney's Animal Kingdom Orlando, Florida

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Happy International Migratory Bird Day!

 

Today marks one of our favorite celebrations. Every year on International Migratory Bird Day we hope that people around the world will take time to reflect on the precious gift these wonderful creatures are to our planet, and to think of ways that they can help to preserve and protect them for years to come.

To make it easy for you to take action this International Migratory Bird Day, Operation Migration has come up with four suggestions of ways you can help make this a great day for all migratory species.

1. Seek out a way to help preserve or restore wildlife habitat in your locale or one nearby.

2. Write to building owners encouraging them to extinguish upper floor and rooftop lighting from dusk to dawn during migration seasons.

3. Encourage your local powers-that-be to require that new hydro and telephone wires be below ground installations.

4. And last but by no means least, support OM 's work with the endangered Whooping crane by becoming a MileMaker.

Date: May 12th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Disney's Animal Kingdom Orlando, Florida

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

3 topics

 

ONE:  Dark, still more night than morning, I stood outside the patio door to my room listening to Animal Kingdom wake up. The sounds from a variety of wild creatures melding in to one exuberant, raucous medley. To identify one particular animal noise, I closed my eyes to concentrate, trying isolate it from the others. That's when I found myself in the way of a breakfast bound small furry something. It walked right over my feet! Not sure what he was or which of us was the most startled. 

TWO: We've recently added new items to OM 's merchandise page. Sweats, Tee's, and more. Wait 'til you see our new 'Certified Craniac' T-shirts! Check the OM Gear page in the Spring issue of INformation magazine, (coming out soon) for reduced Member pricing on some items.

THREE: Speaking of INformation, as we have been advising in our last two issues, starting with this, the Spring issue, Information magazine will be sent only to Members. Sorry folks, but due to mailing costs we have to hold the line at distributing only to those directly supporting this product. (The cost of receiving the magazine is included in the $50 annual Membership Fee.)

INformation has received excellent reviews, but this hasn't translated into support for it. We still believe that the magazine is a terrific vehicle, and a great way to promote OM ’s work with Whooping cranes, and we want to keep it alive - so we’ve gone back to the drawing board.

Several options are being looked at. One is converting INformation to an E-zine. While this is an efficient and cost effective delivery method, we are reluctant to switch for a couple of reasons; one important one being that it would cut out supporters without computers. Another option we are investigating is the potential for 'beefing it up' and transforming it to a semi-annual publication.

Well, what do YOU think? If you have thoughts or suggestions, we'd be happy to hear them. Of course we'd be even happier (smile) to have you become a Member.

Date: May 11th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Disney's Animal Kingdom Orlando, Florida

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Off and running

 

Notes:  Everyone has arrived safely and we're surrounded by African music, artifacts, and of course that continent's amazing creatures. As I sit typing this with a backdrop of savanah and a view of jungle, it is easy to be convinced by the churps, trills, and screeches from an assortment of birds that one has been transported to another land.

But before I get carried away - and it sure is easy to do in this environment, I'd better give you Mark's latest report.

We have five little chicks now.  #4 hatched on May 8 and #5 hatched on May 9. So for everyone who is keeping track:

  • #1 on 5/5
  • #2 on 5/6
  • #3 on 5/7
  • #4 on 5/8
  • #5 on 5/9

All the chicks are doing pretty well.  #1 and 2 are gaining weight nicely and are going for walks. #3 has been able to get outside briefly in the outside portion of the pen. #'s 4 and 5 are both drinking well so far, and we are just working on the eating part.

Our two oldest chicks were able to get out of the pen yesterday and today for their first look at the big world, and they both met the trike for the first time today.

Sorry no pictures; it is not the best of weather today. It is cool and misty here, which also makes it difficult for us to walk the chicks. When they are really young they get hot/cold very easily. Both #1 and 2 got cold and we had to bring them back inside. #2 was so cold that it was trying to brood with the costume. #1 was not afraid of the trike at all. #2 was a little scared, but overall it was a positive experience. #3 has been outside but did not get to meet the trike yet because of the rain/cold.

Date: May 11th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

It's Endangered Species Day

 

Notes:  The Road to Recovery

The U.S. Senate declared today, May 11, 2006, Endangered Species Day to "encourage the people of the United States to become educated about, and aware of, threats to species, success stories in species recovery, and the opportunity to promote species conservation worldwide."

To help celebrate and educate, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has created a website (www.esasuccess.org) detailing the conservation efforts which caused the populations of 100 endangered species in every U.S. state and territory to soar.

"The Endangered Species Act has not only saved hundreds of species from extinction," said Kieran Suckling, policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity, "it has put them on the road to recovery. The Endangered Species Act is one of America ’s most successful conservation laws."

The Endangered Species Day resolution passed the Senate with unanimous consent on April 6, 2006. It was introduced by Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) and was co-sponsored by Senators Biden (D-DE), Byrd (D-WV) Cantwell (D-WA), Chafee (R-RI), Clinton (D-NY), Crapo (R-ID), Dodd (D-CT), Feingold (D-WI), Levin (D-MI), Lieberman (D-CT), Reed (D-RI), Collins (R-ME) and Snowe (R-ME).

Excerpts from a CBD news release.

Date: May 10th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Big News!

 

Notes:  There is chick news - I just wish I had more of it. It is Mark's day off so we don't have a detailed report for you, but thought you would appreciate knowing that two more chicks had hatched.

On an entirely different topic, we have other big news.

Operation Migration will be featured at Disney's Animal Kingdom on International Migratory Bird Day, Saturday, May 13th.

Imagine how thrilled we are at being invited! For the past few days we have been scrambling to get organized, and to ready our booth materials and display. One of our ultralights will be put on view, and if there is room, the trike destined for the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum will also be exhibited.

Disney tells us that they expect a huge attendance at Animal Kingdom Park that day, and we are excited at the prospect of meeting as many of them as we possibly can. It is a marvellous opportunity to raise awareness for the plight of the Whooping crane, and for the reintroduction project, to a potentially new audience - and who knows - perhaps even convert a few into Craniacs.

On hand at Disney to meet and greet visitors at Animal Kingdom will be Joe Duff, OM pilot Brooke Pennypacker, Florida Craniac and long-time OM supporter Wanda Easton, Linda Walker,
Deputy Field Supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville office, and myself. Also dropping by to lend support are OM 's good friends Mark and Peggy Chenoweth (of Whooper Happenings podcast fame).

Yes, we'll take pictures to post to the photo journal, and if we can manage it, perhaps even some video. And speaking of posting - my little old laptop isn't wireless, so it means tracking down and borrowing internet connections while there and along the way. But I'll do my best to keep the Field Journal up to date despite like Willie Nelson, being "...on the road again."

Joe and I will break the long drive home with a stop in Washington to deliver the aircraft that is to go on permanent exhibit in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum later this year. We will be going to Patuxent in Laurel, MD too. We will have trike parts on board that are needed for repairs to the training vehicles there, and we have also arranged to meet and interview two candidates for Mark Nipper's position while we are on site.

We are so very grateful to Disney for this terrific opportunity to showcase Operation Migration and the work we do on behalf of the magnificent Whooping crane. Undoubtedly by the time we reach home we will have an accumulation of people to acknowledge, but for now, we want to say a huge thank you to two Disney cast members for all the time, effort, and advance work they have done to make our appearance at Animal Kingdom possible. They are first and foremost, Disney's Zoological Manager Scott Tidmus, and Grants Administrator Kim Sams. OM couldn't ask for two better friends.

Date: May 9th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Tracking Team's Update

 

Distribution at the end of the week was:
55 - Wisconsin
  5 Iowa , 502, 503, 505, 506, 507
  2 - Indiana , 516, 522 (Due to injury, 516 missed a significant portion of the northern part of the ultralight-led migration in 2005.)
  2 - Michigan , DAR533, 318

There was no nesting or re-nesting activity during the past week.

As in previous years, while adults remained within the core reintroduction, most sub-adults engaged in long periods of undirected flight and/or extensive spring wandering on sunny or partly sunny days.

216's injured leg has not improved, and may have grown worse. The past week he foraged less, and preened and rested more than other cranes. He did continue to futilely pre-copulatory display to 303, his mate.

Date: May 8th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Update from Florida

 

Notes:  When we asked Marty Folk for an update on spring hatches in the Florida non-migratory population, (FNMP) he quickly responded.

"What a surprising breeding season it has been," Marty said. "Just this past weekend a pair of first-time nesters successfully hatched a chick."

Here is Marty's summary of the 2006 season so far for the FNMP.
-  12 pairs built 12 nests, tying the previous record (2004) of number of pairs nesting, and the number of chicks hatched (2003).
-   5 nests failed
-   1 nest is still active
-   6 eggs were collected from 3 failed nests; 2 were fertile; 2 may have been fertile; 2 probably were not fertile.
-   8 chicks from 6 nests hatched, which is more than the total of hatches in 2004 and 2005 combined. (5)
-   5 chicks currently survive; the eldest is 58 days old.

With just 3.87 inches of rainfall recorded, January-April was the driest on record in the Orlando area. Normal rainfall would be 10.74 inches.

Date: May 7th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Wanderers returned to Necedah

 

Notes:  This report just in from Richard Urbanek.

Whooping cranes 309 and 520 were retrieved from Lewis County, NY on Friday, May 5th. The two females were transported to Necedah NWR, where they were released on West Rynearson Pool. They remained there to roost.

309 has a history of migration problems and this is her first return to central Wisconsin . The capture site in New York was her summering area in 2005, and she led juvenile 520 there this spring.

Many thanks to Terry Kohler, Mike Mauer, Stu Walker, Mike Frakes, and Charles Koehler (Windway Capital Corporation) for providing air transport to capture team members: Sara Zimorski (ICF), Richard Vanheuvelen (OM), Tim Sullivan (USFWS, Region 5), Dave Adams (New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation), and Chris Dobony (Fort Drum, Natural Resources Branch). Thanks also to landowner Brian Reape for access, and to Nancy Businga (Wisconsin DNR) for medical examination of the transferred birds.  

Date: May 7th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

We're 'GRANDPARENTS' !

 

Notes:  In addition to sending the report below, Mark said he would be sending chick pictures for posting to the photo journal soon. Anxious to see the 2006 chicks? Me too!

Here's Mark's report -

We have three little chicks now. These eggs all came via ICF's Nat Warning. One is from ICF and the other two are from our previously released pair in Necedah. Little 218 now has two chicks out there in the world!!

601 (from an ICF captive pair) hatched on Friday around 3pm and is looking good. It was moved into the aviary yesterday and so far is maintaining weight. 602 is the first of the chicks from the eggs removed from the nest of 218 and 213 at Necedah. It was just moved out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and into the aviary pen and is doing well so far with eating and drinking. 603 is the second 'Necedah egg' and just hatched this morning. This little guy is barely old enough to try eating and drinking.

Two of last year's chicks, 508 and 517, have been moved into the aviary to be adult imprint models for the 2006 chicks and are getting reacquainted with the building. 517, a male, is already checking out his little neighbor, chick 601.

This is also an important learning time for our new staff as well. Today Laurie has been feeding her first crane chicks.

Date: May 6th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Correction

 

Notes:  I goofed.

In the April 25 Field Journal entry I correctly reported that the eggs of 213 and 218 were taken to ICF after the pair wandered off and left the nest for a prolonged period. I was still on track in April 30's update, advising that 302 and 209's clutch was lost.

My goof came May 2nd when I remarked that ICF was incubating 209 and 302's eggs when I should have said 213 and 218. Thanks to Barbara for bring this error to my attention, and my apologies for the confusion.

Date: May 5th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Handing out Cigars!

 

Notes:  Mark Nipper called moments ago (shortly after 3:00pm EST) to let us know the first chick of the season had hatched! When we spoke with Mark the chick was just seconds old, so there is not much to convey to you at this point. We can tell you though, that the chick was hatched from one of the eggs that came from ICF.

I guess that means we are officially off and running!

Is this a good time to remind everyone about MileMaker? Have you chosen your mile to sponsor yet?

Date: May 5th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

'Prodigal' Bird Found

 

Notes:  Yesterday, in the early afternoon while checking on spring wandering 2005 Whooping cranes, intern Chris Malachowski detected DAR532 in flight over Jackson County, WI. After a period of undirected flight, 532 landed in Wilson Marsh Flowage and settled to roost.

DAR532's last know location (March 8th) was Osceola County , Florida . Three of the four DAR birds are now in Wisconsin . The fourth, 533, is in Barry County, Michigan.

Date: May 4th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Two Updates

 

Tracking Team Report as of April 29.

Distribution at the end of the week (29 April) or as of recent record:
55 in Wisconsin
1 in Minnesota : 420
1 in Iowa : DAR 528 
2 in Indiana : 516 and 522
2 in Michigan : 318, DAR533
2 in New York : 309 and 520 
1 undetermined: DAR532

Richard U. reported that 216's injured left leg appeared somewhat improved this week. He said, "Although 216 continued to limp badly and used his wings for balance when walking, his leg was capable of bearing very limited weight."

Aransas/Wood Buffalo Update
Tom Stehn's May 3rd aerial census counted just 6 sub-adults; 5 on the Refuge and 1 other nearby. Tom said, "Despite favorable migration conditions, only one Whooping crane initiated migration during the past week."

Tom noted that while it was not unusual for few Whooping cranes to still be at Aransas in early May, he said that he was really surprised that more hadn't departed in the last week. "I would expect all of the remaining cranes would initiate migration in the next week, although on occasion, one or two cranes do over-summer at Aransas."

Multiple reports of Whooping cranes in Canada have come in. Some of the birds have presumably arrived on their Wood Buffalo nesting grounds.

Date: May 3rd, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

How's a person to keep up?!?!

 

Notes:  Earlier today I posted the information on egg production at Patuxent and ICF. I thought my Field Journal entries were caught up, that I'd given you folks the very latest info, so I decided to treat myself to a rare dinner out. I'd forgotten what it was like to have meat, potatoes, and vegetables all on one plate at the same time - and to sit down to eat it. Oops. Arrived back home to another email from from Mark. Can you believe it? MORE eggs!  Here's his report.

"There are just a few days until the first egg is due to hatch. We have 33 eggs at PWRC. ICF is sending us as many as seven, and the Calgary Zoo in Alberta , Canada is sending four. Some where between 16 and 20 eggs are due to hatch in the next two weeks. Now that doesn't necessarily mean that they will all hatch, or that they will all survive, but it is still a lot. We will have the building ready to go, but we are not sure if WE are ready.

Whooping cranes build and tend the nest together, and both parents take turns sitting on the eggs. Similarly, both parents will feed and tend to the chicks once they hatch. The nests, generally located in a marshy area, are usually made out of nearby vegetation. 

In the wild, Whooping cranes will lay one or two eggs, with only one usually surviving. In captivity, staff remove the eggs at just the right time to get the female to continue to lay eggs. The standard incubation time a Whooping cranes egg is about thirty days. The incubators here at PWRC are set at around 100-F and the humidity has to be closely controlled as well."

Date: May 3rd, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Chances of re-nesting?

 

Notes:  ICF's Sara Zimorski, who, like Mark Nipper is 'well-connected' with the birds, passes this along in response to your questions about re-nesting. "It is of course possible for the birds to re-nest. There is still time. But so far apparently, none are showing any signs re-nesting. Last year, neither of the two pairs that lost their clutches re-nested. The bottom line? We'll just have to wait and see."

Date: May 2nd, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Position Opening! 
 Supervisor of Field Operations.

Location: Main Office

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Activity:

Eggs, Eggs, and more Eggs

 

Notes:  Today's news is all about eggs. Mark Nipper reports from Patuxent that the egg count there is now up to 31! The word from ICF is that they now have 23 eggs. Add to this the two eggs rescued from the nest of 302 and 209 that are being incubated at ICF, and the total comes to, if you will pardon the pun, a Whooping 54 eggs so far.

Everyone was concerned about the effect of the disruption to the cranes as a result of the disastrous snowstorm at Patuxent in February. Normally the Whooping cranes there start laying eggs in March. With the first egg this year not appearing until April 10th, it appears that while breeding may have been delayed, it wasn't otherwise negatively affected.

On their regular conference call today, the WCEP Bird Team decided that the two rescued eggs at ICF cannot be returned to the nest. These two eggs are destined for Patuxent.

 




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