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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: July 28th, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Bev Paulan

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Training update

This morning we awoke to clear skies and calm winds. At least I think it was, because at 5AM it was still quite dark. It was a beautiful morning to train, and as I drove out to Site #2, the refuge looked like it had been strung with crystals. Spiders are rather busy little critters, and the dew covering their overnight work was sparkling in the early morning light. Looking at their masterpieces while being serenaded by a bird symphony brought home to me once again how truly lucky I am to be working on this project.

At least that's the way I felt until I walked into the pen. Cohort #2 was actually easy to entice out of the wet pen and up to the gate, what with the brood call blaring from our MP3 players and several grapes being tossed their way. However, it became much more difficult when, just as Joe landed in the trike, an adult pair next to the pen began unison calling and scared the youngsters into the back of the pen.

So it took more brood calls, lots of grapes, and three of us herding to finally get all of the birds out of the pen and onto the runway. The first pass in the trike seemed to go well with all the birds flapping, and a couple even taking rather large bounds.

On the second pass, I noticed a shortage of birds, and sure enough, 615 was up to his usual tricks and had wandered off into the marsh. 611 was hot on the heels of the trike as always; 612 was bounding with longer and longer strides; and at each pass, 613 and 614 looked like they were becoming more and more weightless.

There is no doubt about young Mister 615 having a mind of his own! After the rest of the birds finished training, 615 finally came out of the marsh and got some private lessons from Joe. Hopefully tomorrow he will pay more attention to his flight instructor!

And, yes, in spite of the extra work this morning, I am still feeling pretty lucky.

 

Date: July 28th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Brooke Pennypacker

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Rain, at last

We really needed the rain, and although it puts the whammy on training, it's small price to pay for its benefits in what has so far been an alarmingly dry summer. You wouldn't know though it to stand on the refuge observation tower and look out. The landscape is filled with water bodies of every geometry imaginable. But like they say, "We've got plenty of water, but it' mighty thin!"

It doesn't take long for the combination of low rainfall, evaporation, and ground seepage to exact a toll on our meager reserves. We are left with 'stay awake at night' worries of; will water levels in the wet pens be high enough for the chicks to roost in, and, how long before existing pen water becomes stagnant and polluted and a health threat? You see, it is not for nothing that cranes are sometimes thought of as waterfowl.

John Olsen, our able and always enthusiastic refuge hydrologist, keeps a wary eye on the water situation, juggling existing water supplies daily through an elaborate system of canals, gates, and dams to insure our chicks have access to the water they need. But the job is not an easy one.

Last summer, another dry one, John supplemented dangerously low water flows by rigging up a large 12 inch tractor-driven pump called a Cristofoli, (try saying that fast three times and I guarantee it will clean the tartar out of your teeth!) and using it to pump water from West Rynerson Pond into Rice Pond, thus providing Sites #2 and #4's wet pens with adequate water levels - and saving the day.

This year, the entire refuge staff, including the Fire Crews, were mobilized to respond to dangerously low water levels at Site #3, the DAR site. They mounted an emergency civil engineering project with so much heavy equipment and manpower that, from the ultralight, it looked like the Invasion of Normandy all over again. Their continuous dedication to the health of the birds, and the ultimate success of this project year after year, is nothing short of amazing. Well you know what they say, "It takes a village....."

So now, I'll pour the water out of my boots, (I left them outside last night), grab my wet costume, (I left that outside too) and my puppet head (yup - also soaked, but the mealworms inside it DID need a bath) and despite the fact I'm going to look like a fugitive from the set of the old TV show, Sea Hunt, I'll drag my soggy self out into the new day and hopefully respond appropriately to the challenges that await. Wish me luck!!!!!


Date: July 26th, 2006

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

Disheartening news

Just after 6:30 last evening, monitoring team members Tally Love and Serena Grover located the partially decomposed carcass of 203* just southeast of her nesting marsh on Pool 18W at Necedah NWR. She was found in dried sedge-reed canary grass, marsh-willow scrub-shrub. The heavily vegetated drought-stricken area is currently devoid of water except for very small amounts in small ditches and a pond.

Richard Urbanek advised that, "Tracking data indicates that mortality occurred on the afternoon or evening of July 22nd." In an earlier communication, Richard commented on the disassociation of 317 and 203*. Now we know the unfortunate cause. As the remains were cached under some deadfall, predation is suspected.

203*, the mate of 317, is the second member of a breeding pair to succumb to mortality during the reintroduction. This young pair started several nests in 2005, but laid no eggs. They laid two eggs in April this year, but they were lost to predators early on in incubation.

203 is the 15th mortality of a released bird to occur since the reintroduction began in 2001; the third confirmed mortality within the past 2 months. This sad event once again reduces the number in the eastern migratory population - now standing at 61 adults/sub-adults and 2 chicks.

Date: July 25th, 2006

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

Tracking/Monitoring Team report

Just in this morning, the Tracking/Monitoring team's report up to the 22nd of July.

Distribution: Wisconsin 58 adults/sub-adults and 2 chicks, Michigan 3 (318, 522 & DAR533), and unknown 2 (107 and 509).

211 and 217* continue rearing both chicks in their territory along the east side of East Rynearson Pool. The chicks are now just over 30 days old. Photo below sent by Richard Urbanek.

Date: July 22th, 2006

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

Every little bit helps

If you are like us, you too often use a search engine to look for things, articles, or news on the internet. Thanks to Dave and Suzanne Johnson, of Wild Birds Center, Foxgrove IL, we now use GoodSearch.com to do this.

What is unique about GoodSearch is that they have developed a way to direct money to your favorite charity or non-profit with every click. Each time someone uses Good Search to search the internet, money goes to your favorite organization. Why not give it a try and support the cause you care most about - which hopefully is Operation Migration.

The GoodSearch site is powered by Yahoo! so you will get the same quality search results that you are used to. The more people who use this site to search, the more money will go to worth causes. If you like the idea, please spread the word to your friends and family. You can find Goodsearch at www.goodsearch.com


Date: July 20th, 2006

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Reporter: Bev Paulan and Richard van Heuvelen

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Summer training update

Bev's Report -
T
his morning I got up late due to a fantastic overnight thunderstorm that knocked out the power rendering my alarm clock useless (I'm still trying to adapt to the 5am wake up). Luckily it was right at 5:30, the usual start time of our morning briefing. It was determined that training would be a 'go' and everyone split up to head out to the two training sites.

We had 2 additional handlers today due to yesterday's arrival of Laurie Lin, OM's other intern, and Mary, a volunteer from Patuxent. Chris, Mary and I headed to site 4 (I confess to my ulterior motives in wanting to see the chicks taking their first tentative flight) while the others went to site 2. Charlie volunteered to play 'swamp monster' at site 2 to discourage the chicks from wandering into the marsh. In this role he hides under a tarp in the marsh and if a chick wanders out there, he quickly stands up, hopefully scaring the chick back onto the runway. Apparently this worked so well the chick not only ran back onto the runway, but continued right off the other side - with all the other chicks in tow. I'm glad I wasn't there to watch as my laughter would not have been well contained, and I would have risked breaking the no noise rule.

Back at Site 4 things couldn't have been more exciting. All of the birds became airborne for at least a moment, with the stronger chicks flying nearly the length of the runway. As a flight instructor I was always so proud when one of my students would solo for the first time, but the sight of these beautiful young birds realizing they have the gift of flight and can actually break the bonds of gravity is beyond my grasp of words. I was awestruck.

Going from a gangly, loping chick to a fledged sub-adult is a matter of one step really, but the change in attitude (the birds and mine) is much greater. As Mary stated, watching as they realize the hidden power they posses in their wings is bordering on observing the miraculous occur. I can't wait until my next turn at site 4. It will be hard to share them with the others!

Richard's
Report -
Today we decided Brooke would train site 2 and I would train site 4. We took off from Necedah airport and headed for the refuge. There was a bank of fog off in the distance, and wisps of fog drifted by in the still air. After a good night's rain, you could see and feel the difference in the landscape as every thing seemed greener.

Site four came into view with the ground crew already in position. Landing, I turned on the vocalizer and with a signal from Chris adjusted it to the proper volume. The doors swung wide and the chicks clamored out. Off we went with 1, 2 and 6 immediately getting airborne. They flew the entire length of the runway. 4, 5,and 7 flew about half the distance. 8 and 10 lagged behind, flying in spurts, touching down every once.

The return trip went almost as well. However, 101 and 202 had come out of the marsh onto the runway and while most of the chicks ignored them and flew on past, 610, struggling to get airborne, landed next to them. But the adult whoppers helped us out and chased 10 who took off to rejoin us at the other end of the runway. A couple more runs with rest and treats in between and then we put the chicks back into the pen. By this time the fog had rolled in and I had to wait it out before flying back to the airport.

Chris called from the office to let us know that Cohort #3 would be arriving in about 30 to 45 minutes, so we all loaded up and headed for the airport. The Windway Caravan arrived on time as usual, and again, many thanks to Windway, Mike Frakes and Stu Walker for the safe arrival of yet another healthy cohort of chicks. We are forever in their debt.

The chicks were quickly loaded into the air conditioned van, and we headed for site 1. After weighing , we let them out of the boxes inside the pen, where they stretched their legs and wings (see photo below) and quickly settled into their new home.


Date: July 18th, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Chris Gullikson and Richard van Heuvelen

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Taxi and almost Flight Training

Note: Happily we have two training reports today; one from Chris and one from Richard. Thanks guys! Sounds like they are having fun with the chicks in the Class of 2006. I wish I could be there to watch, don't you? Liz

Chris Reports... Cooler temps and first flights.
The intense heat wave has finally broken and we were greeted to beautiful calm skies with less humidity and cool temps this morning. Having been unable to train for the last few days because of wind and heat, we were eager to see how the birds would respond to the cooler weather.

It was my turn to train Cohort 1 at the north site. Charlie and Bev opened the doors and 3 birds exploded out of the pen, leaving 5 others inside hanging out in the wet pen. The 3 chicks were eager to get going so I revved the engine and blasted down the runway watching all 3 taking huge gliding steps. 602 actually found herself about 15 feet off the ground and she looked rather proud of herself after she managed to make a less then spectacular landing. (Remember 602? She is the offspring of 213 and 218 from the ultralight-led Class of 2002. Their eggs were collected to be captive-hatched when they abandoned their nest.)

While I sat at the end of the runway feeding grapes to the three apt pupils, Charlie and Bev managed to persuade a few more birds to come out of the pen. One by one they raced down the runway to join us under the trike wing. 608 was the tardy scholar of the group today, and was finally coaxed outside after having missed 2 taxi runs up and down the runway.

Most of the birds were able to fly for a short distance in ground effect* this morning. 605 glided under my wing a good 50 feet before losing momentum and returning to earth. We finished up training just as the adult pair of 101 and 202 wandered out on the runway. We got the chicks back into the pen easily after spending some time foraging around the trike, and as usual, they were quite happy to get back into the wet pen.

I looked over towards the south site as I lifted off the runway just in time to see Richard lift off the runway himself. We wandered over towards the east site and could see the adult pair of 211 and 217 with their two chicks just off the north end of our wet pen. What an exciting summer it is going to be having the 'First Family' so close to us.

Richard Reports...
After a two days of not training due to high wind and a heat wave of almost 100 degrees, we woke up today to a comparatively cool morning. It was decided that Chris would train site 4 with Charlie and Bev, and I would go to site 2 with Marie and Brooke to act as ground crew.

The chicks were slow to come out of the pen and 611 stayed in the wet pen. So off we went with 12, 13, 14, 15. 614 and 615 kept up with the trike, while 612 and 613 lagged behind either struggling to following the trike or taking off into the swamp. It took some persuading in the form of tossing out grapes from the puppet while taxiing down the runway Ė but the trike won.

After spending some quality time at the end of the runway, off we went again and things went a little smoother this time. By the time we got back to the pen area Brooke and Marie had coaxed 611 out, and we found him on the runway south of the pen also wanting to go to the swamp. Thanks to more grape tossing we were able to get all five chicks to follow.

611 ,614, and 615 were still tempted by the swamp however, and one chick did wander in. It took more treats, but they finally followed. Feeling abandoned, the lone chick came charging back onto the runway. The return trip was a repeat of the first. Then, when we got back to the pen, all of the chicks wanted to get into the swamp. In fact 615 climbed over the fence and ran in. I quickly accelerated the trike up to the pen doors and the remaining four birds followed. Brooke helped put them in the pen while Marie mushed into the swamp to retrieve 615, who surprisingly, followed her eagerly back to the pen.

Here is a photo of four chicks following the trike and one of 611 by himself at the pen.


Date: July 18th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

Monitoring Team Update

We received the Monitoring Team's (Richard Urbanek, Tally Love, and Kelly Maguire) latest update this morning.

Richard reports that all '01 to '05 birds are in Wisconsin with the exception of 318, 522, and DAR533 who are in Michigan, and 107* and 509 whose locations remain unknown. He said that the reintroduction area in Central Wisconsin was experiencing severe drought and extreme heat by the end of last week.

Chick Rearing
211 and 217* continued rearing both of their chicks in their territory along the east dike of East Rynearson Pool. Portions of the nest marsh covered by emergent vegetation were dry, however by July 9th the family had moved from the nest marsh and remained exclusively on the west side of the dike. The primary component of their diet appeared to be green frogs which were abundant in the area.

Mortality
As we previously reported, 302 was confirmed dead on July 16th when his partly consumed carcass was found in Monore County. (See entry #2 July 17th) Tracking data for 302 and his mate 209* indicated that mortality occurred before July 10th, most probably on or about July 5th.

Transmitter Replaced
On July 11th 102* returned to Site 3 at Necedah. She had last been sighted in Adams County May 30. Her non-functional transmitter was replaced on 15 July.

Our thanks to Richard Urbanek for providing the photos below.

Date: July 17th, 2006 - Entry 3

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

Latest Word from Patuxent

PWRC's Brian Clauss reports that with the exception of July 14th, all five chicks in Cohort #3 (618, 619, 620, 622 and 623) have trained together every day. "All birds have been following the trike without hesitation and have also spent lots of quality time pecking at it and getting mealworm treats," said Brian. 

Health exams were substituted for training on the 14th when all the chicks were checked by Dr. Glen Olsen. Because some blood values were off on his last health check, another sample was drawn from 620. Brian said that none of the birds limped or had any problems after their exam, and after an hour or so, they went to the White Series pond. The chicks will all be de-wormed on July 19th, the day before being shipped to Necedah.

Brian noted that while these five chicks have for most part been pretty well behaved, there have still been some bouts of aggression during training. "This morning 622 attacked 619 as she was eating some mealworms," Brian said. "619 tried to run away but 622 would not let go of her head. After we got him (622) off of 619, he wanted a piece of any bird he saw. We quickly diffused the situation by turning off the trike vocalizer and leaving the training area. 

Socialization
In addition to 622, 618 can still be quite aggressive at times. Birds just hock-sitting minding their own business find themselves getting nailed on the back of the head by one of these aggressors.

As of July 12th Cohort #3 has been spending 5 to 9 hours a day at the White pond pens. They were constantly supervised in the pen or by video until the 15th when they started to be checked hourly by video. Last night, they spent their first night at the White Series pond pen.

Health issues
618 still has a bit of a wheeze and one toe that appears to be slightly swollen or thickened near the last joint. It does not feel hot, or cause him any problems while walking or running behind the trike. He is still on antibiotic and antifungal meds which are given to him twice a day in smelts.

Our thanks to Brian for the extra effort to keep us posted.

Date: July 17th, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

302 Lost

In a report just in, Dr. Richard Urbanek advised that the carcass of 302 was found earlier today in a dense huckleberry thicket in Munroe County.

Richard said the cause of death had not been determined, but he noted that part of the left thoracic area had been consumed by a predator or scavenger. He said that the remains were otherwise intact but desiccated, with mortality probably occurring sometime during the last one to three weeks. The area were the remains of 302 was found is heavily vegetated and currently devoid of water except for small amounts impounded by beaver dams in ditch channels.

"302 is the first member of a breeding pair to succumb to mortality during the reintroduction," said Richard. "He was the mate of blood sibling 209. The pair nested for the first time this spring on Monroe County Flowage, approximately 3 miles southwest of the mortality site. They incubated for two weeks during the latter half of April before losing their clutch. The pair subsequently moved northeast of Dandy Creek Flowage, where 302 was suspected to be molting. By July 10th no signal from 209 was detected in the local area, and a report received yesterday indicated that 209 had moved."

302 is the 14th mortality of a released bird since the reintroduction began in 2001. The eastern migratory population now stands at 64; 62 adults/sub-adults and 2 newly hatched chicks.

Date: July 17th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Joe Duff

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Exercise for everyone

It is natural for birds like Whooping cranes to migrate with their parents to spend the winter in warmer locales. By the time they head north again in the spring they have acquired the plumage of an adult, and look a lot like their parents. When they arrive on the breeding grounds (or where they think they started life) it is normal to want to hang around mom and dad. After all they won't get interested in breeding for another few years, besides, what else is there to do.

Of course by this time the parents are getting tired of the nurturing thing. The chicks are now as big as them, are competing for the same food, and are beginning to look a lot like interlopers. In no uncertain terms the young are chased off to make room for the next descendants and on it goes.

In our case, we are the parents, at least for the first generation, and it's incumbent on us to chase off the prodigal children and concentrate on the 'young-of-the-year'. Unfortunately we are not fast enough to dissuade a persistent Whooping crane. They outrun us as we charge down the runway, hampered as we are by restrictive costumes that block out oxygen and hold in the heat. They tread lightly on marsh grasses while we plunge knee deep in the muck. Then, once they have led us on a merry chase out into the wetlands, they simply fly back to the runway and laugh at us, which in Whooping crane, equates to a unison call.

We get a short reprieve during the early part of the summer when the chicks first arrive at Necedah. The white birds defend their territories, but are tolerant of us because they have begun to moult. This leaves them flightless for about a month, and they spend most of that time trying to avoid attention. They stay in the deeper part of the marsh, mostly in water, while we happily carry on, free of their daily interference.

Well that period of tranquility is about to end for another season. At the west site we are beginning to see the white birds gather every morning to meddle with the training - and to see what treats they can steal. The other day there were ten white birds all in front of the pen waiting for us to arrive. Inside, the chicks still seemed eager to see us and willing to follow despite the orchestra of unison callers just outside. From now on most of our mornings will begin with a little exercise.

10 of the Class of 2005 visit the pen site. (2 are off-camera)

Socializing before taxi-training.

Date: July 14th, 2006

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Reporter: Bev Paulan

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Activity Update

Halleluiah and praise the rain gods! A beautiful thunderstorm rumbled through here this morning leaving an accumulation of almost an inch of water. It prevented training with the chicks, but helped reduce the crunchiness of every green thing in sight. Water has really become an issue, and the thunderstorm was a very welcome event.

We checked on the chicks this morning as 607 is receiving meds for a cough, and 614 has been limping slightly. Both chicks looked great this morning with no sign of a cough or a limp, and their meds (hidden inside a smelt to make them more palatable) were eagerly eaten. 

Damp feeders were cleaned, and fresh dry food put out. Pens were inspected for wind damage and seeing none, we headed back to camp.

Adults 101 and 202 were on the runway near the pen at Site 4 the entire time we were there. Coming out of the pen I was startled by the nearness of the white birds, and got my first, real up close look at an adult Whooper. What a magnificent bird! This will prove interesting though when training resumes tomorrow.

Today's schedule consists of trailer maintenance until it gets too hot to work. Forecast highs are for temps in the upper 90's and nearing 100 for the next several days. I wish I had a wet pen to stand in all day!

Date: July 13th, 2006

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Reporter: Chris Gullikson

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Training Update

Things are rolling along smoothly here in Necedah, WI. The weather has allowed us to train the birds just about every morning, although we desperately need rain to maintain the water level on the refuge. So far we are in good shape at the 3 ultralight training sites, but the site used by the DAR chicks has dried up and there is no rain in sight for the foreseeable future.

July 10th
It was a bit too windy to fly this morning so we went out to the south site to train Cohort 2 with the taxi trike. As I drove the trike towards the pen, I was surprised to see 10 Whooping cranes on the runway standing right in front of the pen. They flushed at our approach but only flew 100 yards to land further down the runway. We were able to chase off 8 birds, while 2 others landed by the wet pen about 100 feet off the runway.

There have been 12 birds from last year's migration hanging out at this site and I was delighted to see "my old friends" at close range again. Despite all the commotion, the 5 chicks that make up cohort 2 came eagerly out of the pen when Marie and Bev opened up the doors and they all followed well at a fast run with their wings held out.

July 11th
While Joe flew out to train Cohort 1 at the north site with Charlie, I flew out to the south site to meet Bev, Marie, and the Cohort 2 birds. Once again the birds exited the pen quickly and followed the trike well. 614 is very conscious of his surroundings, and pays more attention to the swamp than to the costume and trike.

This seems to be very normal behavior for some birds and is likely a great survival instinct, but it is a behavior issue that we need to alter in order to keep all the birds together in a group. This is usually remedied very quickly by just spending some time near the trike feeding out some meal worms with the puppet head. This allows the bird to get comfortable being outside and near the trike. At the north site, 604 and 606 exhibited the same wary behavior. Both have now done a 180 degree turn and are much more attentive to the trike.

July 12th
It was a warm morning and 3 of the birds were reluctant to come out of the wet pen at the North site. I taxied off with the 5 birds that I had, while Bev and Marie tried to convince 604, 608, and 610 to come out of the pen and join us for training.

This can be a difficult task; you want the bird to walk out on its own without being forced. A negative experience can make a bird become gate shy. They managed to get 604 and 608 out of the pen after my first pass, and soon had 610 out on the runway. After a few taxi trips up and down the runway, we put the birds back in the pen and I flew over to the south site where Charlie had been waiting patiently for the last hour.

This time it was 614 who was slow to come out of the pen, so I taxied the other 4 birds down to the end of the runway while Charlie opened the doors and convinced him to come out on his own by digging around in the dirt with his puppet head. 614 finally ambled over to us and we began our first taxi run down the runway. The birds followed well as we taxied away from the pen, but they would lag behind me on the return trip and seemed much more interested in getting back into the wet pen and getting into the cool water. It will be interesting too see how training goes over the next several days as the temps are expected to soar into the mid 90ís by this weekend.


Date: July 11th, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Joe Duff

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Cohort #3 arrival delayed

Just when you think you have it all figured out, Whooping cranes have the ability to change everything.

The chicks at Necedah are behaving like troopers, and so far, we have not seen any of the typical problems associated with young birds. The remaining chicks at Patuxent however, seem reluctant to socialize. There are two (618 and 622) that are quite aggressive - to the point that they cannot be left unsupervised without placing the others at risk.

As a result, a decision was taken to postpone shipment of Cohort #3 until July 20th; the latest ever shipment date. We will just have to hope we can get them integrated soon enough for a normal migration departure.

Date: July 11th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Joe Duff

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

What a photographer!

Last evening, Dr Richard Urbanek of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and lead on WCEP's Tracking Team, offered us an opportunity to join him on his regular check of the wild chicks. We met him at the east site, and Bev, Marie, Charlie and I, jumped into his truck for the short drive north.

The chicks are old enough to wander with their parents, and Richard used his tracking equipment to locate them not far from the hatch site. They had moved from a small marsh and were on the east side of East Rynearson Pool. The water is shallow there, and they were meandering from one small grassy island to another.

The sun was going down and the water backlit as they crossed an open area only a few inches deep. The male led, with the female behind - followed by the two chicks in a perfect family line. I shot several full frame photos with the lens on full zoom and was excited by the images. No one else had their cameras ready and I promised to share my good fortune. 

Later, as it grew dark, I hit the preview button to see what I had captured. The message, "No CF Card" was the only thing that flashed on the screen. Unbelievable given I made my living for 20 years as a photographer! My apologies. I should have had great shots of the 'First Family' foraging together to post here. What a photographer!

Date: July 10th, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

Down for the day

We will be off-line all day today for scheduled maintenance to our computers and internal network. As a result, we will have no access to the internet, and will not be able to receive/respond to emails. Anything urgent, please give us a call.

Back to normal tomorrow - we hope.  -:)

Date: July 10th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

Cohort #3 Update

PWRC's Brian Clauss sent along the update below on Cohort #'s training. In passing, he commented that 615 (in Cohort #2 shipped last week) was sometimes aggressive to others, especially when a costume was present. It will be interesting to see if, or how the move to Necedah impacts his behaviour.

Brian's Report: We are down to just the five chicks in Cohort #3 here at Patuxent, and overall, training is going well. 619, 620 and 623 are getting along and training together nicely. 619 follows well, and is very alert and during training, but is nervous at the half moon field. He does not seem to fear the trike, just the training area.

We are working on getting 618 and 622 in with this group, but we are taking it slow because these two birds are so aggressive. Both have been training well by themselves however.

Besides some slightly scraped beaks and slightly crooked toes there are no real health issues with any of the chicks in this group.

Date: July 8th, 2006 - Entry 3

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

Festival Time's around the corner

Dave Arnold, the Necedah Lions Club's intrepid Festival organizer, emailed to ask me to remind everyone about the 6th Annual Necedah Whooping Crane and Wildlife Festival. This year, the event is being held on Saturday, September 16th.

You'll find the fairgrounds filled with both indoor and outdoor booths, some hosted by WCEP partner organizations, and others displaying everything from artwork and crafts, to honey and homemade soap.

In Operation Migration's booth will be one of our ultralights, and once morning training and all (or most of) the chores of the day are completed, OM's 4 pilots, Joe, Brooke, Richard, and Chris will be on hand to meet and talk to festival visitors, as will our 'newbie', Bev Paulan. A selection of OM merchandise will also be available for purchase.

Why not join us just after dawn at the Observation Tower on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge to watch 'flight training'. Weather permitting, the guys always do a fly-by or two with the Whoopers in training, so don't forget your camera.

Then, by the time you grab a bite of breakfast, the fairgrounds will be open and you can check out the displays, shop for the unusual, or take in one of the many special presentations offered by a myriad of speakers (including OM's own Joe Duff). A BBQ dinner wraps up the day, and there is always some great toe-tapping/dancing music to round out the evening.

The Necedah Lions Club's Festival website provides maps and directions, information on food and lodging, the event schedule, and more. If you'd like to take a look, here's a link: http://www.whooping-crane-festival.com/

It's a terrific event, a fun time, and you'll meet fellow Craniacs from far and wide. Why not come?

Date: July 8th, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

Photos

Joe sent along these photos. Click here to see them enlarged


Above: The five chicks in Cohort #2 were greeted by five costumers where they were uncrated at Necedah after their trip from Patuxent.
Below: Taxi-training in full swing. Look at them go! 
Above: Ahhhh, the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer. The chicks of Cohort #2 play around 'poolside'.
Below: Chris heads along the path carrying a foldable blind on his back making him look a little like a Teenage Ninja Turtle.

Date: July 8th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Beverly Paulan

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Cohort Two

Today, we started taxi training with Cohort #2. This group includes birds 611-615.

Boy, were they ever eager to come out of the pen when we first arrived! They came running out and ran right up to the trike. After making sure they were comfortable walking around the trike, Brooke fired it up and taxied down the runway with all 5 chicks eagerly following. After a quick stop at the end, and some meal worm treats, it was time for the next run down the runway. This time, everyone was facing into the wind so wings were flapping and necks were outstretched as the chicks were running as quickly as they could.

Another run up and down the runway, some more meal worms, and their first day of training was concluded. The chicks went back into the pen with no trouble and started right in to wading in the water troughs. It appears this cohort didn't mind the travel from Patuxent, and has picked right up with the new team where that crew left off. They should be a good group to work with.

Date: July 7th, 2006 - Entry2

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Reporter: Joe Duff / Laurie Lin

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah / Patuxent

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Subject:

Cohort Two  / Cohort Three

Cohort Two - by Joe Duff
It's funny how you become good at something if you do it often enough. Yesterday afternoon, pilots from Windway Capital Corp delivered our second cohort of birds for this season. This was the fourteenth time they have volunteered to fly to Baltimore and back in the name of crane conservation. They have covered almost 12 thousand miles and delivered 94 birds, and, as always, they arrived safely.

It only took a few minutes to unload the 5 crates into the air conditioned van we had waiting at the Necedah Airport . Then we took a few more minutes to make sure Windway's pilots knew how much we appreciate their efforts.

With the chicks onboard, top speed on the way from the airport to the west site is about 20 miles per hour. Once we arrived at the pensite, the crates were moved carefully into the pen. Costumes, puppets and vocalizers were all in place before the first crate was opened. The chicks stepped out completely unscathed despite the ordeal. They wobble for a minute, like a sailor finding his sea legs, but settle in almost immediately.

Barry Hartup, DVM from the International Crane Foundation, watched each bird as it moved about. He checked for limping, damaged feathers, and any signs of stress. But after only a minute, these birds looked like they had always been here. They were checked several times during the day but they all seemed relaxed.

This morning we let them out for the first time to explore the marsh with the aircraft and get a little exercise.

Cohort Three - by Laurie Lin
I was relieved when I learned that Cohort 2 arrived in Necedah safe and sound. It was good to hear because the chicks were doing a lot of moving and screaming all the way from Patuxent to the airport.

Here at Patuxent we are now focused on the socialization of Cohort Three. 622 and 618 are being introduced separately to the trio of 619, 620 and 623. They both showed much less aggression and a willingness to cooperate. The entire Cohort will have their 4 day pre-shipment x-ray completed tomorrow, and they will also be given more time to hang out at the pond during the day.

Note: Laurie will head for Necedah to join the rest of the crew the day after the last cohort is shipped from Patuxent (expected to be July 13th). Liz

Date: July 7th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

Cohort Two and the 'First Family'

All five birds in Cohort Two (611, 612, 613, 614 and 615) arrived safely yesterday afternoon. They were delivered from Patuxent to Necedah Airport by Windway Capital pilot Mike Frakes. Our thanks to both Mike and Windway for this, the umpteenth flight they have made with young Whooping cranes aboard.

Joe advises that all the chicks are healthy and happy and they have been installed at Site 2. He promised to send an update for the Field Journal soon.

OM Board Member and ICF Co-founder, George Archibald, reported he watched the 'First Family' for a time yesterday seated in the van with Richard Urbanek. George said, "At first, the parents were each on opposite sides of the road that cuts though the refuge near their wetland nesting grounds. Then the female flew across and landed not far from her mate."

While George and Richard watched, the adults, separated by 30-40 feet, would each catch something and then walk a short distance to pass it to a hidden object in the tall wetland vegetation. Seems that they were each feeding a chick. Finally, they approached the edge of the pond allowing George to snap the photo of them shown here.

Date: July 6th, 2006

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Reporter: Bev Paulan

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Activity:

Oh Wow!

Wow! That's what I keep saying - and will keep saying for some time I'm sure. The birds make me say wow, this place makes me say wow, and the people constantly make me say wow.

I am in total awe of the people I am working with and everyone I have met here. Their knowledge, talents, and most of all, patience, are amazing. I am overwhelmed by it all. I am learning new things everyday, and seeing and hearing new things that will shape me as a crane handler/field tech, and hopefully help me become an integral part of the OM Team.

This morning at training (the crane chicks as well as mine) I watched Chris herd 604 from the pen. She was reluctant to go out, and when she decided the marsh was more interesting than training with the trike, Chris had to retrieve/herd her back. He has a true gift for working with the birds - and I believe he actually is able to think like one. I hope I can catch on as quickly as he did.

Watching Brook fly and keep the chicks' attention is a marvel. He should be called the Pied Piper of Necedah for his ability to hold their interest and keep them following the trike when there are so many other interesting things for them to look at.

Joe has been extremely kind and patient. Last evening he took me up for my first flight in the trike. I can see why these guys do what they do. During all the years I have been flying, nothing has come close to the thrill I experienced last night.

Date: July 5th, 2006

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Activity:

Tracking/Monitoring Update as of July 4

Tracking Team: R. Urbanek, A. Rohde, and T. Love, Kelly Maguire
(* = female)

There are 65 individuals in the reintroduced Eastern Migratory Population. (35 males, 28 females, and 2 newly hatched chicks. As of July 1st, distribution was:
59
in Wisconsin - (57 adults/sub-adults and 2 chicks)
3
in Michigan
- 318
(apparently molting) remained with large numbers of Sandhills in Oceana County.
- 522
has not been detected since June 14 when he flushed with Sandhills during reconnaissance for a retrieval attempt. He flew southward from Oceana toward Muskegon County and was not tracked further.
- DAR 533*
remains with a small number of Sandhill cranes in Barry County.
3 Unknown
- 509
was last recorded June 18th in Fayette County, Iowa but was not present when the site was checked on July 4th.
- 107* and 201
were last recorded in Adams County, WI on April 18 and May 30 respectively. Both have non-functional transmitters.

Date: July 4th, 2006 - Entry 3

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Activity:

The 'First Family'

Parents 211 and 217* with their chicks W601 and W602 remained on the same wetland at Necedah where on Friday, Richard Urbanek was able to observe the family for a time. It appeared that one chick was getting all the food while the other chick hid. When the timid chick came near, the stronger, more dominant chick would drive its sibling back into hiding. Sibling aggression or 'cainism' is not uncommon between chicks, with the larger bird usually picking on its smaller sibling.

The following day the family was spotted foraging at water's edge, and despite Friday's apparent display of rivalry, the two chicks stuck together and both were repeatedly fed by their parents. Frogs....yum.

Research Note: 
A five year study of captive Sandhill cranes chicks reported aggression is evident within 2 days of hatching, increases by day 4 or 5, is most intense around 30 days after hatch, and subsides after three months of age. The study noted that although sibling aggression, in which fighting may be severe enough to lead to death of one of the chicks, has been frequently recorded in captive Sandhills (Hyde 1957, Drewien 1973, Miller 1973, Archibald 1974, Quale 1976, Voss 1976), there have been few published observations, and no quantitative data on frequency of occurrence, of this behavior in the wild.

Date: July 4th, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Activity:

Operation Migration Receives Award from Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund

Operation Migration (OM) has been selected by the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund (DWCF) for a cash award in support of its work with Whooping cranes. The DWCF funds will go toward the purchase of new North Wings for OM 's ultralight aircraft. The North Wing design eliminates the king post and wires and means greater bird pilot safety.

OM was selected from more than 240 applications reviewed by scientists, veterinarians and other animal experts. The organizations range from large national groups to small community efforts, from Africa to Florida , and in total received $1.4 million in awards, bringing the DWCF total to more than $10 million in conservation projects supported.

"The ability to enable such important work to protect wildlife and wild places is a key component of Disney's mission," according to Jerry Montgomery, Sr. Vice President of Public Affairs, Walt Disney World. Montgomery oversees the DWCF program through Disney's office of conservation initiatives. He said the programs chosen demonstrate solid science, engage local communities, and measure the impact being made to protect the environment. "We also appreciate the fact that many of our Guests who visit Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Cruise Line contribute to DWCF, showing their own personal commitment to conservation."

Disney pays all overhead costs of the award program, and its corporate outreach program supplements DWCF awards. For a complete list of Disney Wildlife Conservation projects visit www.disneywildlifefund.com.

Joe Duff, OM's Whooping Crane Project Leader, said, "The Disney organization and the DWCF have been solidly behind Operation Migration since the project's inception. And that is not all. Earlier this year, Disney committed more of its resources when it agreed to contribute veterinarian services to the project. They are a great partner, good friends, staunch supporters, and we look forward to working with them for years and years to come."

This latest award brings the total of DWCF's financial support to Operation Migration over the years to more than $110,000.

Date: July 4th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Activity:

Report of the IWCRT Chair

Below is a Summary report from Tom Stehn, Chair of the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team

It has been a RECORD production year for all three Whooping crane populations in the wild. The captive flocks produced nearly 30 chicks that will be reintroduced into the eastern migratory population, and approximately 6 chicks with especially valuable genetics will be kept in captivity for breeding.

Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada
In May, Brian Johns and Lea Craig-Moore of the Canadian Wildlife Service reported a record 62 nests at Wood Buffalo. Production surveys on the nesting grounds were carried out between June 13th to 17th. Using a Partanavia twin-engine aircraft piloted by Jim Bredy, USFWS-Region II documented a record hatch of 76 chicks from the 62 nests. The record chick production in 2006 was a result of the combination of the large number of nests and productivity. Previous highs were 66 chicks hatched from 61 nests found.

Fifty-two (84%) of 2006's 62 nests produced one or more chicks. The 76 chicks include 24 sets of twins! Compared to the 7 pairs that failed to nest in 2005, an estimated 9 known adult pairs and two single adults, were present on their territories but failed to nest this season. Thus, there are an estimated 71 breeding pairs in the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population.

Water conditions on the nesting grounds looked slightly above average and the weather was good throughout most of June, so I am optimistic that survival of the chicks will be above average. Based on the excellent production in June, approximately 230+ Whooping cranes are expected to reach Aransas in the fall, surpassing the record high of 220 present in the winter of 05/06. This increase of the population is anticipated since it is in the growth portion of the 10 year population cycle that has occurred during the middle of every decade.

We thank the Refuge and Endangered Species divisions of USFWS and the Canadian Wildlife Service for funding the June production surveys, and we acknowledge the tremendous skill of Pilot Jim Bredy, and Canadian Whooping Crane Coordinator Brian Johns for his knowledge of the nesting pairs in the virtual maze of small ponds that characterize Wood Buffalo National Park's Whooping crane nesting grounds.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Three Whooping cranes did not migrate and are still at Aransas. The three include the 2004 Lobstick chick that was injured in spring 2005, and who did not migrated in 2005 or 2006. All three cranes look fine, but it is always a worry that the failure to migrate is an indication of a health problem.

Florida
It has also been a record production year for the non-migratory Whooping crane flock in central Florida. Five chicks are still surviving from a total of 7 hatched from 12 nests. Recent rains have improved wetland habitat that had been dealing with drought.

Wisconsin
On June 22nd, the first wild Whooping crane chicks were hatched in Wisconsin in over 100 years. The parents were both 4 year old Whooping cranes hatched in captivity at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. They attended Operation Migration's 'flight school' at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in 2002 before being led on migration behind OM's ultralight aircraft from central Wisconsin to Florida. The hatching of the twin chicks validates that Whooping cranes, isolation-raised and taught a migration have all the behaviors needed to become successful parents.

Excerpted from a recent WCEP press release on the wild hatch of two chicks -

"This is a long awaited moment." said Signe Holtz, Director of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Bureau of Endangered Resources. "The success of this effort sets a goal for endangered species recovery efforts everywhere. The partnership of public, private and government organizations that has made this possible shows what can be done when we all pull together with a common goal in sight. These chicks have a long and dangerous road ahead of them, but with luck, we'll see them wing south with their parents this fall."

Date: July 3rd, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Joe Duff

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah, WI

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Activity:

Update

I arrived in Necedah Saturday for the first time this season. Richard vanHeuvelen has already been and gone. Brooke Pennypacker has been here for a while, and Chris G. showed up last week along with Charlie Shafer from Patuxent. Beverly Paulan also started here yesterday, and we gave her the grand tour.

Next week another cohort of birds will arrive and our summer season will be in full swing. If you count the year we raised Sandhill cranes, this will be the seventh season Operation Migration has set up camp at Necedah.

The last time I saw the chicks was at Patuxent and they were tiny fluff balls. I was anxious to see how they have progressed, so the first thing I did was find a costume for Bev, and we headed for the north site. I drove leisurely to let her get oriented, and we were treated to the sight of  two adult Whooping cranes flying slowly across the road a hundred yards in front of us.

We spotted soft shell turtles laying eggs near the road, and saw a group of Sandhills on the runway as we approached the pen. Even better, our chicks were eager to see anyone in a costume. The entire experience reminded me of what a haven Necedah is in the summer time.

Normally we can make a circuit around east Rynearson Pond and visit all three sites, but the pair (211 and 217) with the two chicks are defending a territory too close to the road to allow local traffic. So we doubled back instead so not to disturb them. The Monitoring Team checked them on Saturday morning and the whole family seems to be doing well so far.

Cohort Two will arrive early next week, again courtesy of Windway Capital. Brian Clauss from Patuxent reports that they are finally able to socialize some of the more aggressive birds into small groups so they can be trained together.

It looks like we will only have 18 birds for this season's ultralight-led migration. There were 22 originally, but 603 had to be euthanized last week because of extreme hock rotation. 617 was put down because of a bone infection in the leg and respiratory problems. 625 only has one eye, and because it missed so much training early on, itís afraid of the trike and will likely be pulled out of the project. 616 appears to have scoliosis. Its neck is so distorted it often falls over.

It has been a confusing year. We have gone from thinking we would have very few chicks, to the expectation of record numbers, and now we're back to a fairly normal year.

During early training at Patuxent when the birds are still weeks from flying, we remove the wing from the aircraft to make the process simpler. That way, if it is windy we can still train, and the trike is much easier to maneuver around the circle pen. Everything changes for the birds when they arrive here at Necedah, so, to give them one constant, we leave the wing off until they have had time to settle in.

Today, Brooke flew into the north site and we trained the birds with the wing on his aircraft. Some were reluctant to come out at first, while others seemed oblivious to the new appendage - until they were standing right under it. When they finally looked up, we did our best to distract their panic with treats of smelt and meal worms. Most of them recovered quickly and, after another few sessions, they will begin to ignore the wing just as if it has always been there.

604 was horror stricken however, and ran off into the long grass. She was coaxed back with treats and the vocalizer, and would follow the trike as long as it didn't get too close. You could see she was torn between the instinct to run and the conditioning to follow. We spent half an hour in front of the pen with number 4 alone, getting her slowly closer to the wing and progressively less vigilant. This little bird will need lots more attention because as Mark once said, "Number 4 is afraid of everything."

Date: July 3rd, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Brian Clauss

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Patuxent, MD

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Activity:

Update on Cohorts One & Two

Cohort 2
611, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 616 have all been open-trained at the half moon field the past few days and are adjusting to it well. They have also been spending most of the day in the White series pond pens and are getting along fine there. Behavior-wise, this cohort seems to be socializing well.

616's scoliosis* continues to worsen and is becoming more and more noticeable. It is unlikely that he will be able to be included in the project.

Cohort 3
618, 19, 20, 22 and 23 have all been training and are improving at pretty much a normal level. These birds were in the crane-chick building until they were about 20 days old, and while they were there, did not get any 'real' training - just exposure to stationary trike revving. 619, 20 and 23 are starting to get along together, however, 618 and 622 don't get along with anyone. I think they would fight the adults if they could get to them.

Likely as a result of her eye problem, 625 is very afraid of the trike and any strange noise it encounters. Basically she is blind in one eye and cannot be considered a candidate for the ultralight-led migration.

Notes: OM Interns Marie Brady and Laurie Lin, and Patuxent's Brian Clauss, have picked up where Mark Nipper left off with reports from Patuxent. The above update came in this morning from Brian - to whom we say, 'thanks'. A report just in from Joe in Necedah on Cohort One's progress follows. Liz

*Derived from the Greek word 'skolios,' meaning crooked, scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curve to the vertebral column, in other words an unnatural curvature of the spine.

Excerpt from
USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center's
Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan

"Having come through an extreme genetic bottleneck - the current population is derived from at most 12 (and more likely 6-8) founding individuals. As a result the species is susceptible to inbreeding effects. This loss of genetic diversity and subsequent inbreeding depression are general concerns for the small and narrowly based Whooping crane population.
The incidence of scoliosis and tracheal deformities among captive Whooping Cranes is higher than would be expected based on studies of wild Whooping Cranes and other cranes. The distribution of scoliosis cases among captive birds suggests that there may an inherited susceptibility within the population."


Date: July 2nd, 2006

Links

Reporter: Mark Nipper & Marie Brady

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Patuxent, MD

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Activity:

Update on the Class of 2006

Note: Cohort One left Patuxent on Monday and Mark left on Wednesday, so this report is a joint effort. It was started by Mark and then updated on July 1st by OM intern Marie Brady. Liz

Around 11:00am on June 26th, Windway Capital's aircraft took off for Wisconsin with the eight birds (numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10) in Cohort One. Charlie Shafer of PWRC, Richard Van Heuvelen, and Brooke Pennypacker got all the birds tucked into their new pens at Necedah without any trouble.

For the last week or so, Cohort One had been living full time in the White Series pond pens. To check to make sure they hadn't swallowed anything metal, we brought them into the Propagation Building to be x-rayed before they were shipped. These birds have been getting along much better for the past little while, and have been doing pretty well in training too.

Cohort Two is split. 611, 613, and 614 are living in the White Series Pens, while 612 and 615 are in the Propagation Building . This is to analyze the difference between the two. These birds are all still getting along really well. They go for walks and train together as a group.

Cohort Three consists of numbers 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, and 25. These guys still have a long way to go in every respect. Not only have they only been training since June 18th, they do not get along that well. 619 and 620 are good with each other, but most of the rest of them hate absolutely everything and they all fight through the walls of the pens. 622 wants to kill anything that moves. 623 gets along with 619 and 620 reasonably well, although not when its very hot. Then everyone tends to get cranky.

The past week was dominated by scheduled health checks, radiographs, and serious health problems. Cohort One consisted of nine chicks until 603 had to be euthanized on June 21st. She was a good little bird but had an ongoing leg problem, which led to her quick deterioration last week.

616 was an assisted hatch and has had respiratory problems ever since. Despite having scoliosis, this fellow has a great attitude and has kept up with the rest of the group just fine so far.

617 recently became of extreme concern. As a result of an infection in the bone of his toe, he was in a lot of pain, and at times could hardly stand or walk. He also developed a respiratory problem which worsened. After extensive treatment, 617 underwent surgery on June 29th to attempt to help its increasing respiratory problems. Unfortunately, the little guy died while still under anesthesia.

We also have grave concerns for 625. She injured her eye when she was still pretty little, and the ensuing infection resulted in blindness in that eye. 625 is also undergoing extensive treatments, but not being able to see is pretty serious. She is a great little bird with a wonderful attitude and gets along well enough considering her condition.

Sadly, the class of 2006 is shrinking.

Date: July 1st, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office 

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Activity:

Update on
Wild601 and Wild602

Both chicks were last observed in a wetland area on the Necedah Refuge late on June 29th. During the evenings, one parent has been brooding the chicks on the nest, and from all appearances, they both seemed to still be doing well.

While keeping in mind that Whooping crane parents do well to rear one chick, we are full of optimism and hope for these two milestone birds. The dangers of sibling rivalry aside, the fledging of these chicks, and the added safety the ability to fly affords, is still many days off. Nonetheless, the fact, unrelated as it may be, that an incredible 24 sets of twins were produced from 62 nests in the Wood Buffalo/Aransas flock, somehow leaves this untutored Craniac encouraged.

Brooding birds of any species do not like close activity. This precludes doing any close up observation in order to monitor the progress of little W601 and W602 - as much as we would like lots of reports and lots of pictures. But stay tuned, we will post every little tidbit of news we are able to glean.

 



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