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Date: July 31, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Chris Gullikson

Subject:

Update from Necedah

Location:

Wisconsin

We have had beautiful flying weather the last week, giving us plenty of opportunities to train with the birds. A light fog has blanketed the refuge every morning creating a spectacular scene as we fly out to greet the cranes and ground crew.

This morning I trained the 5 birds in Cohort 2. 716, 717, and 722 (in the photo to the left) are all able to fly the length of the runway with ease, while 721 and 724 are flying in ground effect for 100+ yards.

Yesterday, I trained with the oldest birds of Cohort 1 and was treated to 703, 706, 709, and 710 flying two circuits with me. 703 was locked right on the wing and I could have probably taken him for an extended flight.

726 in Cohort 3 is flying in ground effect for short distances, while our youngest birds, 733 and 735, are still developing their primary flight feathers. They run behind the trike with their heavy wings held out.

In 1987 a Trumpeter sawn reintroduction program was initiated in Wisconsin. This has been a very successful program and it’s exciting to see these beautiful birds in the wild. There is a pair on the refuge that have five cygnets, and we are privileged to see these birds every day on our drive out to the training sites. It is a hopeful reminder that, with patience and dedication, the Whooping Crane will someday be a common sight in our wetlands too.

View the photos here in the 2007 Summer photo journal.

Date: July 31, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Eastern Migratory Population Update

Location:

Main Office

This update was compiled from data provided by Richard Urbanek (USFWS), Stacey Kerley (ICF), and Nicole Frey.

In the highlights below, * = female; DAR = direct autumn release; NFT = non functional transmitter.
Estimated size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the week was 56 individuals, 32 males and 24 females.

In the central Wisconsin core reintroduction area (which is experiencing prolonged drought) were:
101, 102*, 105
201*NFT, 205, 211 & 217*, 212 & 419*, 213 & 218*, 216 & 508*
301* & 311, 303* and 317, 307, 310NFT & 501*NFT, 312* & 316, 313* & 318
401, 402, 403, 407 & 502*, 408 & 519*, 412, 415*NFT
505, 506, 509, 511, 512, 514, 520*, 524NFT, DAR532
DAR627, DAR628
Wild 601*

Outside central Wisconsin core were: 107*NFT, 420*, DAR527*, DAR528*

Michigan: 516 in Ingham County as of July 5.

New York: 309*

Recorded earlier in Wisconsin but current location unknown: 503 & 507* in Wood County May 26; 209*NFT & 416NFT around Meadow Valley SWA June 25.

Recorded earlier in Michigan but current location unknown: DAR533* last found June 11 in Van Buren County.

Missing (suspected dead): 202* last recorded in Georgia March 26.

Date: July 30, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Bev Paulan

Subject:

Runway Training

Location:

Wisconsin

Yesterday started as any other day - way too early and way too disorganized. Where is that costume? Where did I kick off my darn boots yesterday? Who has the grapes? Did the mealworms come in? Who made the coffee this morning? (This being the most important question of the morning.)

By luck of the draw, I got to go to Site 4 this morning. Megan went to Site 1, and Robert wanted to go to Site 2, so actually it was more by default than by luck, but the results were the same.

As I drove out onto the refuge sipping my morning go-juice, I once again marveled at the beauty and serenity of the place. Patchy ground fog swirled across the pools as the quickly rising sun burned through. A family of trumpeter swans forage close to the road near Site 4 and I paused to look over the "ugly ducklings" and their graceful, beautiful parents.

Driving down the rutted road to the Site, fog thickened enough to slow me to a crawl and forced me to put on the windshield wipers. As I walked towards the pen to find out if I could see, I could hear ravens croaking from across the pool.

I attempted to call the pilots to let them know that I was socked in at the Site, but when I heard the trikes already in the air realized I was too late. I stood peering through the fog trying in vain to see the trikes, but no luck.

I heard one of them land at Site 2 and heard the vocalizer turn on. As it turned out, that site, which is usually the one fogged in, was actually good enough to train right away. I heard a trike circling around and figured that was my pilot partner for the day waiting for the fog to clear. Soon enough Brooke came into view and he quickly set up his approach and landed. It was still too foggy to train so we walked back to the truck for more coffee while we waited.

It was worth the wait. While I readied the pen door, Brooke taxied into position and turned on his vocalizer. I was worried that since the birds could hear the trike and vocalizer at Site 2, they would be at the back of the wet pen and not want to come out. Happily my concerns were unfounded, and all 8 birds literally burst forth from the pen, eager to get going for the morning.

101 was on the runway as usual and Brooke taxied around him with the chicks following. Soon he was airborne and all 8 chicks broke free of the ground and followed in a very loose formation. Half the birds dropped back to the runway after a half a circuit, while the older chicks followed for one, then two laps around the site.

I stood in the pen tower watching, and feeling such a sense of wonder at how my fuzzy little chicks that I held in one hand could possibly have grown so big so quickly to be actually flying. Time does fly, and this certainly proves it.

After Brooke landed and taxied back to get everyone back in line, he once again took off with everyone following. 1, 2, 3, I counted. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9……9? Wait a minute. Since when did we have 9 birds in Cohort 1? And when did one of our chicks get so big, and so white? Hey, that's 101 following the trike.

Sure enough the white bird had enough of watching and decided to join in. He did two and a half circuits with 703 while the rest of the birds slowly peeled off for the runway. Two birds dropped off into the marsh. Never fun to have to retrieve them.

Soon enough the fun was over and Brooke taxied up to the pen. Now it was my turn to go retrieve the errant chicks. Surprise, surprise, here they come trotting out of the marsh of their own volition, actually eager to go into the pen. These birds are truly amazing!

The day continued with mowing of the runway at Site 4, but nothing compared with watching training. Another fantastic morning. Not bad for a bleary-eyed, foggy morning!

View the photos here in the 2007 Summer photo journal.

Date: July 27, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

A picture's worth...

Location:

Main Office

"Send photos, send photos, send photos," says I. "Nag, nag, nag," says the crew. Think it's easier to send photos than it is to listen me nag because we received some from intern Megan Kennedy yesterday.


The substrate in the wet pen at Site 1 has been catching the birds up so  the crew have been afraid to let them out there on there own. With the weather they’ve been having at Necedah the chicks are all eager to get in the water so the crew swung into action.

They partitioned off a corner at the entrance and tried to pack the mud down to make it safer for the birds. The muddy costumes in the photo belong to Chris Gullikson and Robert Doyle. Oh the glamour of being an OM pilot eh Chris?

View the photos here in the 2007 Summer photo journal.

Date: July 26, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Eastern Migratory Population Update

Location:

Main Office

This update was compiled from data provided by Richard Urbanek (USFWS), Stacey Kerley (ICF), and Nicole Frey.

In the highlights below, * = female; DAR = direct autumn release; NFT = non functional transmitter.
There was little change from last weeks’ report. Estimated size of the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) at the end of last week was 56 individuals (32 males and 24 females) 53 in Wisconsin, 2 in Michigan, and 1 in New York.

Notes
- 506 who hadn’t been recorded since May 10 was found July 17 in Adams County, WI.
- 524NFT may have been the bird spotted July 16 on one of the pools on the NNWR.
- 107*NFT is believed to be the bird spotted July 16 in Fond du Lac County, MI.

Location Unknown
- 503 and 507* were last recorded May 26 in Wood County, WI
- 201*NFT was last observed June 9 near Meadow Valley SWA with her now deceased mate 306.
- 209*NFT and 416NFT were last observed June 25 near Meadow Valley SWA.
- 415*NFT was last observed June 7 in Adams County, WI.
- 516 was last reported July 5 in Ingham County, MI.
- 202* was last recorded March 14 entering Georgia.
- DAR533* was last recorded June 11 in Van Buren County, MI.

Date: July 25, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Got some spare time?

Location:

Main Office

We still need help sourcing names and contact information for newspapers, magazines, or periodicals. Once we have a list we will start sending out our Public Service Announcements to the print media.

What can you do to help? Call your local/regional or nearest major publisher for the name, phone number, email and mailing address of the person who looks after public service ads and then send that information along to us. You can click the link to the right, and enter the info on the form we created.

With your help we can get the word out about OM and our work with Whooping cranes to thousands of potentially NEW Craniacs.

Date: July 24, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Chris Gullikson

Subject:

Training update

Location:

Wisconsin

Cohort 1
All 8 birds are flying at least part of the length of the runway with numbers 3, 6, 9, and 10 flying strongly beneath the wing of the trike for the entire length. 12 and 13 are a bit younger and are lagging behind a little, but follow quite well and are still able to fly a good distance in ground effect.

714 had been lagging behind with 12 and 13, but after my second taxi run at high speed this morning, he/she was right there with the older birds. We should be flying short circuits with all 8 birds in the next week or so.

I love this time of the birds training, they are so excited to get out of the pen and fly with the trike. It’s like something clicked in their heads and they finally realize the whole purpose of following the loud mechanical contraption. 

Cohort 2
With number 718 being euthanized last week for a respiratory infection this group is now down to 5 birds. The five are in their pre-flying independent stage, and sometimes become more interested in the swamp than the trike. And, the fact that we have a pair of adult Whooping Cranes on site does not help matters any.

Last Saturday we decided that the runway needed to be mowed. The standard procedure is for a couple costumed handlers to lead the cranes several hundred yards away to a sandy beach where they can play in the water while the rest of us mow the runways and make a few pen repairs.

Our chicks had different ideas however, and did not want to go play on the sandy beach. Brooke and Robert had their hands full just getting the birds out of the wet pen, and once outside they all decided to head for the swamp instead of following the costume. 

The adult birds were eager to help convince our young chicks that the swamp is a much better place to hang out, and a couple hours later, all of us exhausted, and boots filled with mud and water, managed to get the 5 safely back into the pen.

Things worked out much better on Sunday morning. Joe was able to lead all 5 birds away from the pen with his trike, and Brooke and Robert then led them the rest of the way to the sandy beach. The runway was mowed without incident and 2 hours later the birds were easily led back to the pen.

I have trained with Cohort 2 the last two days and all 5 are doing great. They are coming right out of the pen and following the trike well. 716 and 717 are even catching a bit of air as they strongly flap/run.

Cohort 3
These 4 birds are the youngest and look tiny in comparison to the older birds of Cohort one. Numbers 733 and 735 are till in their ‘cute’ phase with downy feathers on their heads. All four birds are following the trike closely and have adjusted amazingly well to the wing of the trike, showing no fear at all. 

We have not been able to give the birds free access to the wet pen yet due to their small size, the water being a bit to deep, and the mud being a bit too thick. But they do have a nice puddle they can forage in with the spillover from the water pans.

The female of the First Family showed up on site this morning and watched training from the side of the runway. It won’t be long before she and her mate are standing in the middle of the runway and disrupting our training sessions.

Date: July 24, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Bev Paulan

Subject:

Summer 'taxi training' well underway

Location:

Wisconsin

Well, I'm finally, officially here at Necedah. Even though I left Patuxent before Cohort 3, I didn't report for duty until this weekend.

Last week I was in Boater's Safety Training in preparation for the winter season at Chass. I arrived at camp late Sunday night after a quick stop at home to attend a christening and to make sure my house is still standing.

It didn't take long to get into the swing of things when my alarm went off at 0500. We are down to a skeleton crew right now with both Richard and Nate on time off, and Joe and Brooke down in Florida on a fact finding trip for a potential wintering site.

I went out to Site 4 while Megan and Robert went to Site 2 to deal with the 'problem' children. They were kind enough to me to allow me a slow, mellow transition back to work. What a treat it turned out to be. When Chris landed and taxied up to the pen, I opened the doors and all the chicks came eagerly out with much leaping and flapping.

The joy these birds exude is palpable and contagious, and as I quickly hid myself behind the closed doors I had an ear to ear grin. I ran up into the tower and watched as Chris taxied down the runway with all the birds following and half of the cohort in the air. I'd forgotten what a glorious sight it is watching the young ones fly.

The chicks are so much larger than when I last saw them at Patuxent, and still clumsily running after the trike with heavy, unmanageable wings. Seeing them fly brought tears to my eyes.  I know this is a sight I will never tire of.

Training went will with only minor interference from the resident white bird, and all the chicks went easily back into the pen. Chris flew off to train at Site 2 while I filled feeders. I raced down to Site 1 trying to beat Chris there, and as I crested the hill down to the pen, he was just taxiing up. I opened the door to the pen and out stepped the four smallest chicks.

In comparison to the 8 oldest, these guys are still small. 735 even has some of his down and has a fuzzy appearance that is too cute. They all followed well, which made me very happy considering that 726 and 727 were not good followers at Patuxent.

This morning, Megan and I worked Site 2 while Robert had double duty. They followed well and got in some forage time under the wing when training was finished. Again, I was almost shocked by how large these youngest have gotten, and how much white is in the plumage.

724 is the largest of the group and 721 is just a peanut in comparison (I hear a new nickname, but don't tell Joe!).  Before I knew it, we were putting the birds away and training was over for another day. I can't wait until tomorrow!

Date: July 23, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Location:

Main Office

Brian Johns, Wildlife Biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service and a member of the Canada-US Whooping Crane Recovery team advised today that the Species At Risk Public Registry has posted the "Recovery Strategy for the Whooping Crane in Canada" for a 60 day comment period ending September 21. To view the strategy document click here.

Date: July 23, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

The OM Team

Subject:

Good Partners = Good Friends

Location:

North America

We recently received a wonderful email from 'Superman’ and Superwoman' (aka Barb and Brian Clauss) from the chick crew at USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Centre. They were so complimentary to Bev, Brooke and OM that we just had to share it with you.

"We just wanted to say thanks to OM for letting us have Bev and Brooke for the chick season. This year was particularly challenging with the shortage of staff here at Patuxent on top of the modifications to the Propagation Building, the new sheds being built in the White Series, and the large number of eggs allocated to the project.

They helped us with everything from building preparations to constructing the new shed and awning in the White series pens; with barrier modifications in the prop building to allow for new flooring and two additional adult imprint models. Nothing daunted them from cleaning plexiglass and repairing chick pens to magneting for metal in the pens and exercise areas.

And, all this was on top of their daily chick care duties of teaching the new chicks how to eat and drink on their own; weighing them, helping with the health exams and daily medical checks; walking, swimming and training chicks; and of course the ‘fun’ jobs – sweeping and mopping floors, and cleaning chick carpets and food and drink dishes.

Of course there were also the hourly checks on the new chicks, the time spent baby-sitting new groups of chicks until we could trust they’d be okay to monitor by video, and the never ending mowing of the training and exercise areas and chick pens.

Bev and Brooke's passion for the birds is incredible. They would come in early and get the training done before the heat of the day, then stay late to help do whatever we could to maximize the chicks' care and exercise. There were a lot more 10-16 hour days than 8 hour days for us this year.

Bev also did an awesome job with OM's interns, and Carl, Megan and Nathan were also tremendous workers. All offered so much to the project, not only their work, but each one with their individual personalities.

It has been a difficult year in that although we exceeded in raising the number of requested chicks for the ultralight-led program, we lost so many to problems we could never anticipate. It is disheartening that  
we do not have all the chicks that we actually raised to show as a product of the labor and care that went into each and every bird.

Although most outside the walls of Patuxent can never know just how much work was accomplished this year, Bev, Brooke, OM’s interns, and we too, know all too well how much extra effort and hard labor went into this season’s chicks. We hope to have both Bev and Brooke again next year for the chick season and look forward to the opportunity to raise as many chicks as we can for next year's migration.

We know that having Bev and Brooke at Patuxent was an extra expense as well as a sacrifice for OM as you did not have them for preparations and early training at Necedah – and likely other things that we don’t even know about, – so thanks again.

The 2007 chicks are incredible little birds, unique unto themselves, each with their individual personalities and in the way they contribute to the group. We would like to thank the Operation Migration team who contributed in many ways to help to raise Class of the 2007, and we wish you the best for a very successful (and speedy) migration!
                       Brian and Barb

And from us to the whole chick crew at Patuxent – especially Brian and Barb – we say “RIGHT BACK AT YOU!” Your many efforts above and beyond the call didn’t go unnoticed nor were they unappreciated. What great friends! What great partners!

In the photos:
Barb gets a stuffed crane brood 'Mom' set beside a heat lamp ready for a newly hatched chick. Brian works on the outdoor pens.

 
Date: July 20, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

718 Euthanized

Location:

Wisconsin

718 suffered with a respiratory aliment since before he left Patuxent. If we had met our target of 24 birds this year, we likely would not have risked shipping him, but in every other way he is a great bird so we took the chance.

He held his own in the pecking order and followed the trike like a pro, but at the end of each session we could hear him wheeze and he was often seen open mouth breathing.

He was on a heavy medication schedule and last week it was ended to see if there was improvement. Unfortunately his condition worsened and he began to rattle when he breathed. When he went back on the meds he improved, but it was only a temporary fix.

Dr. Barry Hartup of ICF diagnosed a blockage in the trachea that sometimes results when a very young bird aspirates some food or water when learning to eat. The particle lodges just above the lungs and begin grow fungi. The bird’s body tries to compensate, and soon a blockage begins to form.

To confirm Barry’s suspicions we took the 718 to Madison where he performed a CT scan. Unfortunately he was correct and the blockage was clearly seen. It occurred at the end of a three foot long trachea with four 180 bends, so using a scope was out of the question and there was no way to remove the debris. The bird was only breathing with one lung and euthanasia was the only option.

Date: July 20, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Cohort 3 meets trike with wing

Location:

Wisconsin

Today we introduced the birds of Cohort 3 to the wing for the first time.

In the past, we remove the wing from an aircraft for taxi training when the birds first arrive. At Patuxent they are introduced to the trike with its wing removed and our logic is to avoid changing everything at once. In truth this was based on a assumption and not any hard evidence, but, like a tattoo, it seemed like a good idea at the time and we have been using this method ever since.

Because we only have 4 birds in this last cohort and small numbers are always easier to control, we decided to leave the wing on and see what happened. We would park the aircraft a distance away from the pen and let the birds approaching at their own speed. If they wouldn’t come near it we would simply put them in the pen and go back to the original plan.

Chris and I took off together on a perfectly calm and clear morning with the temperature in the low 50's. As soon as we climbed above a few hundred feet we could see a large bank of fog over the wetland of the refuge. The thick layer was drifting slowly to the south and piling up on the lower end of Rynearson Pond right over the east site where the youngest birds are penned. 

That left the north site open and Chris landed to begin his training while I circled for 20 minutes. Finally it cleared enough to let me in from one end and I landed and shut off the engine. We let the birds out and they walked over to the aircraft as if nothing were different. We fed them grapes and mealworms for 15 minutes, and when we started the engine they took little notice.

I taxied up the runway and two followed on each side tucked under the wing like pros. We did a couple of high speed runs and they opened their under developed wings to chase along behind me. It seems the familiarization to the wing was a non-event.

When I met Chris back at the hangar he told of an equally satisfying session at the north site with Cohort 1. It seems for now we have fixed the problems, so now we just have to stay vigilant until the migration.

We didn’t train the birds at the west site today because we had what we think is a badger incident. Yesterday morning Robert Doyle found a large oval hole just outside the gate. Overnight something dug in the sand and managed to get down below the buried chain link fence.

Larry Wargowsky (Necedah Refuge Manager) has some experience live trapping badgers in his duties with the Service. He suggested using mothballs as an extra deterrent. So after we filled in the hole with rocks and covered the area with a layer of chain link topped with gravel, we sprinkled some Naphthalene flakes. Birds are curious and examine most things with their beaks so we’ll give it another day to dissolve into the ground before we let them out.

View the photos here in the 2007 Summer photo journal.

Date: July 20, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Chris Danilko

Subject:

New Merchandise

Location:

Main Office

Have you seen our new note cards? We have two versions; an everyday all purpose note card and a 'tongue in cheek' holiday greeting card. Both are blank on the inside so you can personalize them with your own special message. The cards come in sets of 8 and 10. To take a peek, click here.

Date: July 18, 2007 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Safe Arrival

Location:

Wisconsin

At 12:00 EDT a Cessna Caravan from Windway Capital in Sheboygan landed at the Necedah airport with four Whooping crane chicks on board. This is the 20th round trip that Windway has made from Sheboygan to Baltimore to Necedah and back home, and we are very grateful for their support.

The arrival of the four birds in the third Cohort brings to 18 the number of birds we have in the Class of 2007. It has been a very difficult year so far. With the loss of 18 birds in February, many injuries, and  parasite and other disorders this breeding season, we have far fewer birds than we hoped for.

However, we have to consider that we still have 18 healthy birds in our flock. That's 3 more than existed in the late 1940's. And all you have to do is look over your shoulder at them enthusiastically chasing after the aircraft to be uplifted. Eighteen is better than extinct.

Date: July 18, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Mortality

Location:

Main Office

This afternoon, Dr. Richard Urbanek (USF&WS) advised that the Eastern Migratory Population had lost another Whooping crane. He said the decomposed carcass of 510* had been found last night, south of Site 3 on the Necedah refuge.

Richard said, “510* was flightless due to molt, which was about 65% complete. We found her carcass amid floating grass/sedge mats in about 20 inches of water in a small opening surrounded by dense willow scrub shrub. With the exception of these wet areas, and an adjacent ditched channel, the area, normally a wetland, was dry."

"Water levels had apparently receded since initiation of his molt," he said, "and a crane, especially one that was flightless, was not safe from predators in this habitat."

510 had last been seen during an aerial survey June 25th. Her signal wasn't detected during a roost check on July 8 and it may be that this was because her transmitter was underwater after possible predation. On July 11th's aerial survey her signal was detected, and again faintly from the ground on July 16 – possibly because of changes in water level. The remains of 510, as well those of 306 who was found July 12th, have been sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center for necropsy.

511, who associated with 510* but often separated once she began molting, remains in the area.

This mortality yet again reduces the size of the Eastern Migratory Population. As of today it is estimated to consist of  56 birds, 32 of which are males and 24 are females.

The loss of 510 brings the number of released bird mortalities to 25 since the project began in 2001. Unfortunately, it may not be the end of the season's bad news. 202* has been missing since mid March, and several others have not been found for more than a month.

Date: July 18, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Florida Chick

Location:

Main Office

The little Florida chick we've been telling you about is now nearly 5 weeks old and as you can see from the photo to the right which was taken by Jeannette Parker, he is getting noticeably bigger.

Marty Folk, who sent the photo along to us said, "I know you are tired of hearing about how dry it is in central Florida, but you can't believe how tired I am of reporting it! So for now I won't complain - but I might complain twice as much in the next report.

Date: July 18, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Cohort 3 News

Location:

Main Office

Today is the last day at Patuxent for the chicks in Cohort 3. They will be leaving this morning for Baltimore airport where they will be loaded onto the aircraft, once again supplied by Windway Capital, for their flight to Wisconsin.

Cohort 3 is made up of only four of the six remaining chicks. It was decided yesterday afternoon to pull 723 from the ultralight-led program and so he will not be shipped to Necedah with the rest of Cohort 3. He has had ongoing leg problems, his right leg being rotated at the hock. Despite being swum daily to help strengthen legs, his condition did not improve sufficiently so he will remain at Patuxent.

730 was euthanized on Saturday. He had been sick for some time and despite the best efforts of the chick crew, his condition continued to worsen. The underlying cause of his illness will be determined by necropsy.

Being shipped today are: 726, 727, 733, and 735. With this being the final shipment it means that we will have 18 chicks in the Class of 2007 for flight training instead of the much hoped for 24.

This morning, team members at Necedah will finish up the last of the preparations at Site 1, the new home of the Cohort 3 chicks. With all four pilots - Joe, Brooke, Richard and Chris, our two interns – Megan and Nathan, Field Supervisor Bev, Robert Doyle, and, before the day is out, the entire Class of 2007 being on site, the refuge and OM’s camp will be a lively, busy place.

Date: July 18, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Experience Counts

Location:

Wisconsin

We have been very concerned with the indifferent behaviour of our oldest birds. Patuxent’s Robert Doyle who is here in Necedah with us, suggested we stop the training for a while to see if our absence would make them more attentive.

In the past, when weather postpones the training, we have often noticed a renewed interest when we are finally able to resume, so the idea wasn’t without precedent. He suggested 5 days but we settled on two. Wind and rain worked to his advantage and it has now been 4 days since we trained with them. We did however let them out of the pen on occasion to forage with the handlers and become more familiar being out in the open.

Yesterday morning the ceilings were low as we took off and flew out over the wetlands. Richard Van Heuvelen landed at the west site to work with Cohort 2 while I headed north to see if the oldest birds had missed us.

Robert and Nathan opened the gates and all the birds charged out. I counted twice in disbelief, expecting at least two to still be in the wet pen, but they all gathered near the aircraft. We taxied fast to the north end and they ran beside the aircraft with their wings extended.

703, our oldest, picked up his feet and extended his legs behind him as he flew the length of the runway. I thought he would stop there but he climbed and kept going. I was sure he’d land in the marsh, but he made the turn and settled down beside us.

We made three more runs, and each time all of the birds followed. On the last taxi, 706 climbed over the pen and landed in the marsh somewhere to the south. After the rest of the birds were safely in the pen we went to retrieve him but couldn’t spot him in the long grass.

I took off to get a better view and flew over the area enough to become concerned. It is always impressive how well a white bird can hide if they want to. After 3 passes he stuck his head out of the marsh behind the pen and Robert enticed him home. It seems his intuition worked. A four day break has made all the difference. Experience counts.

(Nathan reported that Cohort 2 also performed yesterday, also after taking two days off out of the past three.)

Date: July 17, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Technology...grr / Connectivity licked!

Location:

Wisconsin

It's funny how once you have a piece of modern technology its hard to imagine life without it. The internet is one of those advancements that we love to hate, but I’m not sure this project could have been done without it.

Training birds and leading a migration is made easier with cell phones and GPS, but they’re not essential. But I’m not sure how we could have funded this project if we couldn’t post updates and reach the support base that lives in the people who check on us daily from all over the world. I guess before the internet we could have dictated updates over a land line. Liz could have printed them in weekly newsletters and drop them in the mail but that somehow seems almost as antiquated as smoke signals.

The internet, for some, is a perfect tool. They mostly live in urban centers where WIFI signals abound and high speed connections to the entire world are only a mouse click away. We, on the other hand, are on the fringes of connectivity where that same simple mouse click induces fits of frustration that escalates to rage and computer damage as you drive your fingers through the keyboard
in a futile attempt to make it work like the advertisement !!!! CAN YOU HEAR ME NOWWW!!!

The wetlands of Wisconsin or the rolling hills of Tennessee are great places to reintroduce birds - but not market centers for multinationals communication companies. In the isolated stopovers along the migration route staying in touch with our audience is problematic.

After a two hour flight that begins at sunrise we hold the birds until the ground crew arrives
and set up the pen. One of us spends an hour or so on a computer while the camp is being established, then drives to the nearest populated area to ply the streets for a stray, unprotected signal. We upload our report and make our escape, feeling both guilty for the intrusion and frustrated by our lack of options. This convoluted process can delay our posting for hours, and requires the efforts of one of our key people for a half day or more.

Thanks to modern technology and a very generous supporter, we now have the problem fixed. MotoSat DataStorm D3 is a mobile, two way satellite internet device that connects us the world from anywhere. You attach a portable dish to a control device and a wireless router and presto. Well maybe not that easy.

Our Wisconsin campsite is in the forest, so Chris and I had to build a 12 foot tower so it could ‘see’ over the trees. Then it took three of us the lift the unit up to its new perch.

But here I sit in the warm sun, unencumbered by wires, feet up, soft drink at hand, and when I hit the send button this job will be done. THANK YOU to our special friend who wishes to remain anonymous. You have no idea how happy you have made us.

Date: July 17, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Eastern Migratory Population Update

Location:

Main Office

There was little change from last weeks tracking report. The estimated size of the Eastern Migratory Population is 57 individuals (32 males and 25 females); 54 in Wisconsin, 2 in Michigan, and 1 in New York.

Currently unaccounted for
- 201*NFT
was last observed June 9 with mate 306 (predated July 6). 201* was also suspected to be dead, however it is possible that she left the area when 306 became flightless during his molt.
- 209*NFT and 416NFT were last observed June 25 during an aerial survey.
- 415*NFT was last observed June 7.
- 524NFT is believed to be the crane observed on Pool 13 July 11.
- 107*NFT is believed to be the crane reported flying into Teal Pool on the refuge June 22.
- 503 and 507* were last recorded in Wood County on May 26.
- 506 was last recorded in the Mill Bluff area on May 10.
- DAR533* was last found June 11 In Van Buren County, MI on an aerial survey.
- 202* was last recorded March 13 as she and mate 101 entered Georgia on their return migration.

Date: July 16, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

It's a dirty job but....

Location:

Wisconsin

By mid week we will have a full complement of birds here at Necedah. Cohorts 1 and 2 have already arrived and are doing well. A couple of the older chicks are flying the length of the runway in ground effect and it won't be long before we are flying short circuits around the pen site.

Once they are all fledged it will be time to mix the three cohorts together. We start by leading the middle group across the pond and pen them next to the youngest birds. We let them form a social structure and then later, introduce the oldest group. This way, the older birds, who are usually larger and more aggressive, are outnumbered by the amalgamated group. It tends to balance the odds making it less of a struggle for them to find a pecking order they can all live with.

All of this takes place at the east site where we have a double pen system that can be sectioned. We can pen them separately, divided by a chain link fence so they can interact but not fight.

All of this means that our biggest site, where the only observation blind is located, is the last to be occupied. Situated at the south end of East Rynearson Pool it must be more susceptible ice shifts in the winter as when we arrive back each spring most of the steel posts that support the wet pen are leaning inward and have to be realigned.

To do this, one person had to push from the inside while another pulled from the outside and a third tried to reach high enough to drive the post back down with a sledge hammer. All of this in two feet of water, an equal depth of mud, and with the chain link still attached.

Since then the refuge purchased a Marsh Master, a kind of floating bulldozer with a front end winch. The refuge operator easily manoeuvres the machine close to the fence post, and the winch is used to pull it straight while the platforms makes it easier to wield the hammer. Now a difficult, day-long job is done in an hour and no one needs to get wet.

View the photo here in the 2007 Summer photo journal.

Date: July 16, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Cohort 3 News

Location:

Main Office

With Bev on her way to Necedah we are grateful to Patuxent aviculturists, Brian and Barb who have stepped in to the breech make sure our Craniacs are kept in the loop with 'chick news'.

The chicks in Cohort 3 range in age from 35 days to 55 days old. Barb told us that the size difference between the older three chicks and the younger two, once a cause for concern at the beginning of socialization, seems to no longer be a factor. "733 has shown that as much as size, personality is also a big factor when socializing," she said.

"726 ruled the roost and kept 723 and 727 in check prior to 733 and 735 being introduced to the group. 726 was never really mean," said Barb, "but a subtle peck or even his mere presence was enough to make the rest move far enough away to be out of his reach."

For the most part, the little group of three got along peacefully, until 733 came along that is. 733 and 735 were initially socialized with the older birds, and on his first visit with these three chicks, 733 quickly declared himself the new sheriff in town.

"It was amazing to see the change in hierarchy," Barb said. "This little bird can give a pretty hard peck when the other birds are in his intended path. He doesn't seek anyone out, but if he wants to go somewhere or do something and they are in his way, look out! He seems to ignore little 735, which is a good thing as she is the smallest of all."

Other than Sheriff 733, the group gets along fine. To strengthen his legs, the crane crew go and get 733 from the White Series pen for his daily swim. Barb said they joke that when the other chicks see 733 leaving with us they are saying under their breath - don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Despite 733's bouts of crankiness, training with Cohort 3 has been going well.

At the end of last week, in anticipation of their trip to Necedah scheduled for this Wednesday, all five were checked over. They had blood samples taken and were x-rayed at to see if they had ingested any metal (none had).

Date: July 13, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

It's for the birds

Location:

Wisconsin

Probably the hardest part of this project is trying to think like a bird.

 

Our objective is to encourage our charges to follow our aircraft so we can impart a migration route, yet to have that experience be as natural as possible. Not by any stretch of the imagination, can chasing after a yellow airplane piloted by people dressed in white costumes, be considered natural but that's a human perception. To them everything that happens is new and un-natural. After repetition some things become familiar and our ambition is to ensure that everything they become accustomed to is what a wild bird would encounter --- except for the airplane. If there was some way to cover it in feathers and makes its wings flap, we'd likely try it just like we've tried about everything else. Despite the best efforts sometimes the birds perform differently than we expect. Cohort one is like that.

 

There are a few birds that follow diligently and others that seem almost indifferent. Number 710 has been a problem lately, reluctant to come out of the pen and then, once on the runway, always  weary of the aircraft, staying a measured distance away. We put all the other birds back in the pen and worked with number 710 alone. We fed him meal worms close to the trike and gently moved the wing around until he was calmly standing under it. It seemed to help.

 

Right next to the runway is the main gate that leads to what we call the dry pen. It's a fifty foot diameter enclosure similar in construction to a vertical-board patio fence. The boards overlap so the birds can't see out and Its painted in natural colours. As the name suggests it is built on dry land and it contains a feeding station and a shade shelter. At the back of this pen is another gate that leads to the wet pen which is a top-netted, chain-link enclosure 100 by 100 feet. It's built entirely in water anywhere from a few inches to 18 inches deep.

 

When we open the main gate in the morning, the arrival of the costumes and the sound of the approaching aircraft are usually enough to get the birds charging out of the water, anxious to get outside. But lately a few (or maybe one) have lingered in the wet pen and it only takes a few (or maybe one) to dampen the enthusiasm of the rest. So there we are, standing at the gate with all the makings of a party, but no guests.

 

Last night we locked them in the dry pen to see if it would help. The problem is that there are so many things going on it's hard to determine which one is affecting them. Maybe it's the gate. After all, it's a solid barrier that somehow disappears and leads to all the noise and commotion outside. Number 101 flies in everyday and unison calls from the runway before we chase him off. Who knows what message that conveys to impressionable chicks. And then there's the airplane with its newly attached wing. Once we are all on the runway the chicks seem overly vigilant, staring off into the marsh with necks extended. Maybe it's the wind that rustles the trees or the remnants of morning fog, or maybe it just the openness.

 

A few of the birds, like one third and one half, (see below)  are still eager to follow us out. Number 703 is our oldest and starting to fly. So he's anxious to get outside. But number 710 is still reluctant to come out and then resistant to leave the pen area.

 

Today all but number 714 came right out of the pen. Having been denied access to water all night, they were a little more excited . There was no wind to cause anxiety, number 101 was behaving himself and surprisingly they all followed me to the north end. They all lifted their wings on the return trip and after a few more runs we decided to end the lesson short on a good note.  However, without warning, some imagined danger caught the attention of number 712 and he turned and headed to the west. Number 710 was the first to follow and soon Robert and I were standing alone.  I taxied down to join them and they all followed as I turned back to the pen, except for 710 and 712 who wandered into the marsh outside the wet pen and needed 20 minutes of coaxing to get them back. So the ending note wasn't as good as we'd hoped.

 

We've decided that maybe less is more or that absence will make the birds grow fonder. We're going to curtail the training for a few days. Sometimes when the weather has postponed the training we have noticed a marked improvement in their performance so we'll try it on purpose to see what happens however the forced exile might be harder on us  than them.

 

Note: Each bird has an identification band above the hock that is held on by a white plastic tie wrap. It creates a horizontal line that divides the vertical numbers making number 12 look like one half. He is such a diminutive bird that it seemed an appropriate misread.

View the photo here in the 2007 Summer photo journal.

Date: July 13, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Mortality

Location:

Main Office

Dr. Richard Urbanek advised this morning that the decomposed carcass of 306 was recovered July 12 on his territory in Juneau County. From tracking data, it appears that the mortality occurred around July 6th.

“306 was killed in a dried sedge marsh. One leg remained at that site, and the remainder of the carcass had been dragged 115 feet into a thicket, apparently by a large mammalian predator,” said Richard. “He was flightless due to molt, which was about 80% complete.”

Spring/summer precipitation in Central Wisconsin is 6 inches below normal, and no water was present in the immediate area where the mortality occurred. The only standing water on the territory supported little cover for a molting bird.

306 and his sibling mate 201* paired in Tennessee in the winter of 2004 and wintered in Volusia County, FL during subsequent seasons. In 2005 and this spring they were observed nest building but no egg production was documented.

306’s mate, 201* has a non functional transmitter and was last observed June 9th. Richard has been listing her as ‘suspected dead’ for several weeks, however he now says that it is possible that she is alive having left her flightless mate on their territory due to deteriorating water conditions.

The death of 306 brings the number of confirmed mortalities of released birds to 24 since the reintroduction began in 2001. In addition, 1 adult female has been missing since spring migration 2007 and is presumed dead.

Date: July 12, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Eastern Migratory Population Update

Location:

Main Office

This update was compiled from data provided by Richard Urbanek (USFWS), Stacey Kerley (ICF), and Nicole Frey.

In the highlights below, * = female; DAR = direct autumn release; NFT = non functional transmitter. Estimated size of the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) at the end of the week was 57 individuals (33 males and 24
females) 54 in Wisconsin, 2 in Michigan, and 1 in New York.

Central Wisconsin Core - 101, 102*, 105, 205, 306, 307NFT, 401, 403, 412, 420, 505, 509, 512, 514, 520*, Wild601*, 211 & 217*, 212 & 419*, 213 & 218*, 216 & 508*, 311 & 301*, 317 & 303, 310NFT & 501*NFT, 316 & 312*, 318 & 313*, 407 & 502*, 408 & 519*, 511 & 510*, DAR626, DAR627

Wisconsin, Outside Core - 420*, DAR527*, DAR528*

Recorded Earlier in Wisconsin but Current Location Unknown - 107*NFT, 209*NFT, 413*NFT, 416NFT, 503, 506, 507*, 524NFT, DAR532

Michigan - 516, DAR533*

New York - 309*

Missing (suspected dead) - 201*NFT, 202*

10 DAR chicks were shipped from ICF to Necedah on July 10. Two additional DAR chicks remain at ICF.

Date: July 11, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Great Fun

Location:

Main Office

Educators (and Craniacs) may be interested to learn that as a result of 201* and 306 spending time in Volusia County, FL over the winter, the Daytona Beach News Journal was moved action. They commissioned a local author to write a 14-part serial.

Marian Tomblin, authored “Endangered!” a story about an injured Whooping crane who inspires an injured teen to save their threatened environment. The serial ran weekly in The Daytona Beach News-Journal last fall. To visit the story’s matching website go to www.nieworld.com and choose 'Endangered serial' from the 'Browse by topic' drop down menu.

Our thanks to NIE Manager Nancy Govoni at the Daytona Beach News-Journal for sending this along.

Date: July 11, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Note on the Florida Non-Migratory Flock

Location:

Wisconsin

Recently we posted an update on the Florida Non-migratory flock. Marty Folk from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, had reported that their team had constructed over 675 feet of fencing to discourage a pair of Whooping cranes in Lake County from leading their newly hatched chick across a busy highway to a feeding area.

Marty was convinced that the wetland area around the nest could support the birds but worried the adults might lead the chick into danger. It seems their efforts worked and so far the chick is doing well. Marty sent us this update.

"The chick has reached 3 weeks of age. The parents are doing everything right. Of course, 898 is an old pro at parenthood, but 1291 is a rookie. We finally began getting some drought relief. Around 5 inches of rain fell this past week. Prior to the rains, the lake/marsh surrounding the nest had pretty much dried down to mud, leaving the family more vulnerable to predation as they roosted at the nest. Now a protective moat of water is back.

This area of Lake County are so dry, that it is going to take more rain before any water begins standing in the marshes. The dry ground is like a sponge and will need to get re-hydrated, but at least we have a start. Marsh and lake water levels are still the lowest we've seen in the history of this project."

Date: July 11, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Eastern Migratory Population Update

Location:

Main Office

Dr. Richard Urbanek advised this morning that he will be later than usual sending out the Tracking Team's weekly update. No worries - there were no significant changes from last week's report.

Date: July 10, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

More from Paul Baicich and Wayne Petersen's Birding Community E-bulletin 

Location:

Main Office

NEW FROM NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY: "COMMON BIRDS IN DECLINE"
Last month the National Audubon Society released "Common Birds in Decline," a report which combines results of the 40 years of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and the USGS-backed Breeding Bird Survey to provide a snapshot of the state of some of North America's "common" birds. The report was a collaborative effort, with input from state NAS offices and a select group of Important Bird Areas coordinators.

"Common Birds in Decline" presents a distressing picture of what is happening to some of our most familiar birds. The review and its associated outreach activities are intended to build public awareness over the fate of such common species as Northern Pintail, Greater Scaup, Northern Bobwhite, Common Tern, Eastern Meadowlark, and Evening Grosbeak - all species which were found to have experienced nationwide population declines of greater than 70% over four decades.
 
The report does not suggest that these birds should become the focus of any new or special conservation efforts, but simply that their condition highlights important conservation concerns affecting a wider environment.

As such, the mantra of "keeping common species common" resonates clearly in this report.
 
Details of "Common Birds in Decline" along with information on the methodology used can be found online at:
http://stateofthebirds.audubon.org/cbid/

Date: July 9, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Nathan Hurst

Subject:

Training with Cohort 2

Location:

Wisconsin

The weather finally broke. After several days of 90+ degrees, today is only supposed to reach the mid 80s. With a windless, and cloudy morning we were able to introduce Cohort 2 to the wing. Up until now, we had been doing ‘taxi-training’ but with no wing on the trike.

The addition of the large white wing across the top of the trike can be alarming to the chicks. At first they were wary, ducking whenever it was above them. But thanks to a little persistence and lots of treats, they were soon more comfortable with it.

716 and 721 were even curious, biting at the struts and cords that support the wing. They followed well as Brooke taxied around with the wing on and quickly learned it wasn’t anything to be scared of.

Date: July 9, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Training with Cohort 1

Location:

Wisconsin

Saturday was my first opportunity to train the birds. As this project grows in complexity, I spend more time flying this computer than my airplane. Despite the fact that many of our birds are already 50 days old or more, this is the first time this season that I’ve been able to put on a costume and spend some quiet time.

Brooke and Chris worked with Cohort 2 at the west site and Robert Doyle, Nathan Hurst and I went to the north site to work with the older birds. All these decisions are made first thing in the morning in camp. Then the crew heads off through the refuge to the site while the pilot of the day drives to the airport.

This was also the first time I have been able to fly since we dropped the birds off at the Chassahowitzka pens site last season and I wanted to make certain everything was in order.

You start with the usual walk around, inspecting every familiar part and once you’re sure it’s perfect - you do it again. You run the engine up until it reaches operating temperature while listening for any abnormalities. You backtrack on the runway to give yourself lots of room and do a by-the-book take-off, climbing high before you leave the pattern.

As soon as the aircraft arrived at the north pen site, so did number 101. He is without a mate now and must be lonely. As I led the birds up the runway they seemed reluctant to follow, and nonchalantly joined the aircraft only after it stopped and they were coaxed close with treats. It was obvious their indifference was the result of divided attention, so I began to defend our territory by chasing 101 off the runway.

Now ‘chasing’ is a relative term. An aging pilot dressed in a bulky white costume is no match for a young Whooping crane. I ran at top speed in pursuit while he loped along just out of range. At the end of the runway I chased him off into the tall grass.

As I turned back, he unison called to trumpet the fact that he had obviously repelled me because I was now in retreat. As soon as we resumed the training he was back, and this time I used the aircraft to chase him. I taxied along at his heels until he finally decided to fly. I knew he’d circle and race me back to the chicks so I decide to continue the chase into the air.

Now an airplane flies best in cold weather, but these are the dog days of summer and even the mornings are warm. Best flying performance is achieved when your machine is lightly loaded but I’m still at my winter weight and was carrying full fuel.

There is an old flying axiom that defines one of the most useless things in aviation as the runway behind you - and its wisdom became clear as I approached the tall grass without feeling that familiar lifting sensation.

Too slow, too heavy, and too stupid to recognize it, I held my breath as the main gear dragged through the grass and began to accumulate cuttings. I felt the aircraft begin to settle, dragged back to earth by the wetland weeds, and just ahead, a shallow marsh filled with decaying tree stumps.

We hung in the air for a moment as time stopped and my fate was
debated by whoever makes those decisions.. Gradually the wing began to fly. I was acquitted of my stupidity and released with a warning which I intend to heed. I guess number 101 thought I was too dangerous to fly with. He landed in the marsh and we finished the training undisturbed.

Each individual bird has its own personality and place in the pecking order, but as they grow and gain confidence, the character of the flock changes, sometime on a daily basis. 710 seems to have lately developed a fear of the great outdoors.

The sound of the aircraft engine excites him and he charges out like the rest of the birds, but then the reality hits. It’s big and new outside, and he is reluctant to leave the pen area. This apathy affects the others, so we put him back in the pen and trained with the remaining seven.


This seemed to work and the chicks were more attentive. Once the session was over we moved the birds back into the pen and released 710 again. This time Robert, Nathan and I encouraged him with lots of mealworms as we led him to the north end. Rather than start the engine and add to his dismay, we pulled the aircraft along as a guide. It took a while, but he eventually calmed down. Yesterday, 710 was first out of the pen and eager to follow with the rest of the flock.

View the photos here in the 2007 Summer photo journal.

Date: July 6, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Announcing - Change4Cranes

Location:

Main Office

After reading about the success of the Change4Cranes fundraiser by the students at Windermere Elementary School in Florida, a number of teachers and supporters suggested that OM develop Change4Cranes into something in which Craniac Kids everywhere could participate. So that’s exactly what we did.

We now have a Change4Cranes kit, consisting of a little pop-up cardboard coin collection box, peel and stick decals with which to decorate it, and a page of ideas to help get the creative juices flowing.

Any teacher who would like a Change4Cranes kit for their class, or, one for each student, please get in touch. Or, if you are a Craniac Kid and would like a kit of your own, just email us your name, mailing address, the name of your school and the grade you are in. We can mail Change4Cranes kits now, or, time their delivery for when school reconvenes in the fall.

All schools/classes signing on as a participant in Change4Cranes before September 30 will be entered into a draw. Three names will be drawn on October 1st, and the winners will be offered the opportunity to have a member of the OM team come and give a presentation.

To sign on and order a Change4Cranes kit(s) email: james@operationmigration.org.

Date: July 6, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Birding Trend

Location:

Main Office

Excerpt from July’s Birding Community E-bulletin

Last month, the preliminary findings of the USFWS survey, "2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation" were released.

n the category of Wildlife Watching (birding is the lion's share, by the way), the trends were all headed upward. From 2001 to 2006, the increase in both around home and away-from-home wildlife watching rose 8% and 5% respectively.

Of the 71 million people who enjoyed wildlife watching in 2006, almost a third (32%) took trips more than a mile away from home. Overall expenditures related to wildlife watching for the period increased a modest 2%, with trip-related spending up significantly, to an increase of 40%.

You can read the preliminary findings here: http://library.fws.gov/nat_survey2006.pdf

Date: July 5, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Nathan Hurst

Subject:

Newly Arrived at Necedah

Location:

Wisconsin

More remote and bigger than Patuxent, the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, has quickly begun to feel like home for both for me and the chicks. While living in the Nomad trailer has got me starting to feel like its namesake, the chicks have adapted quickly and are especially enjoying the wet pen.

We finally got some much needed rain over the past two days, and fortunately its timing didn't impede the shipment of Cohort 2, which arrived without incident.

721 keeps losing the splint on his broken toe. "He has the most popular toe in the pen," said Gretchen, an ICF veterinarian, referring to the tendency of the other birds in the Cohort to pick at the foreign object.

Cohort 1 is still getting used to the trike with the wing on it, and the distracting presence of adult 101 isn't helping any. The poor guy lost his mate and wants some company, but we can't seem to convince him that the Site 4 runway isn't the place. (Left is aerial photo of Site 4)

Preparation continues on Site 1 where Cohort 3 will be housed upon their arrival. There's lots of work to be done, but with Joe, Brooke, Megan and myself now onsite, our ranks have swelled and the work will be managed swiftly.


View the photo here in the 2007 Summer photo journal.

Date: July 5, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Birding Community E-bulletin for July is out

Location:

Main Office

Below are two excerpts from the July issue of the Birding Community E-bulletin by Paul Baicich and Wayne Peterson who do a terrific job of distilling down the latest and most important news.

Senate Poised To Shortchange Bird Conservation
In June, the Birding E-bulletin reported on the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee and its hopeful mark-up for natural resource issues. Since then, the corresponding Senate Appropriations Interior Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee has met to make its funding recommendations.

Without going into minute detail, it is sufficient to say that the initial Senate numbers don't match those from the House in regard to bird-conservation issues. Most of the announced Senate figures (e.g., Neotrop Act, State Wildlife Grants, Refuge System Operations & Maintenance) are below those from the House that we outlined last month: http://www.refugenet.org/birding/junSBC07.html#TOC10
and
http://www.steiner-birding.com/bulletin/june07.html.

Senators can still be reminded that they have time to match their colleagues in the House when it comes to these important bird-conservation funding issues.

Buy Your Migratory Bird Stamp Now
The 2007-2008 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, commonly known as the ‘Duck Stamp’, is now on sale across the country at a cost of $15.

Since the 1930s, more than $700 million has been raised from stamp sales and the funding used to secure over 5.2 million acres of valuable wetland and grassland habitat for the Refuge System. Approximately $25 million a year is currently collected through annual stamp sales. The stamp is a conservation bargain, since approximately 98 percent of the revenue from the stamp goes to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to purchase refuge wetlands and grasslands.

In addition, the stamp can be used from July 2007 through June 2008 to gain free admission to any National Wildlife Refuge in the country that charges an entry fee.

You can buy a stamp at most large Post Offices, National Wildlife Refuges with Visitor Centers, Bass Pro Shops, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and various other sporting-goods stores.

For general information on the stamp program and on birders and the stamp see http://duckstamps.fws.gov/Info/Stamps/stampinfo.htm
and
http://www.fws.gov/duckstamps/Info/Constituents/birder.htm

Date: July 4, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Chris Gullikson

Subject:

Cohort 2 News

Location:

Wisconsin

 

Yesterday, despite a detour around storms in eastern Wisconsin, the Cessna Caravan owned by Windway Aviation and flown by pilot Mike Frakes, arrived on time in Necedah to deliver the six birds in Cohort 2.

Dr. Barry Hartup and his health team from ICF were on hand to give the birds a quick visual check before we loaded the crates into the refuge van for the drive out to their new home. Once at the west pen site, the crates are carefully weighed before we placed them inside the pen. Wearing our costumes and with vocalizers on, we open the doors of the crates and coaxed the birds to come out and have a drink of water after their long trip.

All 6 birds arrived in great condition and seemed quite comfortable in their new surroundings. As they investigated their new home, we quietly carried the crates away for loading in to the van, and headed to camp under threatening skies.

Back at camp, the health team weighed the empty crates and gathered fecal samples to test for parasites. Just as they were finishing, the skies opened up and we received our first drenching rain in 2 weeks.

This morning, the health team was back to replace the splint on 721's toe. She has a bit of a toe injury and to keep it aligned properly while it heals, will wear a splint on her two for a couple weeks. She seems quite comfortable however, has no limp, and puts full weight on the leg with the toe injury.

The 8 birds in Cohort 1 are very healthy and are following the trike well. 703, the largest and oldest of the group, surprised me on Sunday by taking some powerful strides with energetic wing flapping into a little gust of wind. This bird could be getting airborne within the week!


View the photos here in the 2007 Summer photo journal.

Date: July 4, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Eastern Migratory Population Update

Location:

Main Office

This update was compiled from data provided by Richard Urbanek (USFWS), Stacey Kerley (ICF), and Nicole Frey. Thanks go to Windway Aviation and pilot Charles Koehler and to Sara Zimorski (ICF) for tracking assistance.

In the highlights below, * = female; DAR = direct autumn release; NFT = non functional transmitter. Estimated size of the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) at the end of the week was 58 individuals (33 males and 25 females).

Michigan
- 516 hasn’t been found since June 12 when he was reported in Ingham County.
- DAR533* was last observed in Van Buren County on an aerial survey June 11.

New York
- 309* has been using multiple sites in Lewis County and adjacent Oswego County.

Wisconsin Notes
- A Whooping crane believed to be 107*NFT was reported near Horicon NWR in Dodge County June 22. 107* was last observed in Adams County on an aerial survey March 29.

- 209*NFT and 416NFT were found near Meadow Valley SWA on an aerial survey June 25. 25 June. They had not been detected since May 27.

- 216 and 508* remained together on the refuge for much of the week but were noted separated on June 24, 28, and 29.

- 307 who sometimes associated with 403 and Wild601*, has a failing transmitter and can’t be consistently tracked.

Recorded Earlier but Current Location Unknown
- 503 and 507* were last recorded in Wood County May 26.
- 420* was last found in Chippewa County on June 20.
- 506 was last recorded near Mill Bluff May 10.
- DAR527* was last reported in Winnebago County during the week of June 25.
- 201*NFT was last observed with 306 June 9.
- 415*NFT was last observed in Adams County June 7.
- 524NFT was possibly the bird seen near Sprague Poll last week.

Missing (suspected dead)
202* was last recorded entering Georgia with her mate 101 on the first day of her spring migration. 101 arrived back at Necedah alone on March 26.

Date: July 3, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Cohort 2 arrives safely

Location:

Main Office

Sorry to keep you waiting for news about the shipment of Cohort 2 today. Joe and I have been traveling for the past two days doing fundraising.

Chris Gullikson reported that all six chicks made the trip safely and all six passed their health check on arrival. 718 has a toe problem and 724 is on meds, but both are expected to overcome their problems.

There will be more details tomorrow. I've been on the go for 20 hours now and shouldn't be 'operating machinery'. (grin) 

Date: July 1, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Hello? Hello? Anyone out there?

Location:

Main Office

A while ago we asked Field Journal readers  to send us interesting facts or unusual bits of trivia we could share with website visitors in our 2007 Migration updates.

It's been ominously quiet. Is everyone on holiday? Or perhaps thinking the fall is still a long way off? If the answer is the former, we hope you are having a 'whooping' vacation. But if the answer is the latter, please don't hold off until fall to send us your submission. The more we can accomplish through the summer, the less frenetic the fall – and for us, the panic (versus the year round frantic) begins in early September.

So folks, don't be shy, and please don't wait. Send along your tidbits to us at trivia@operationmigration.org.  Or click the button on the right. Editor-in-chief Vi White is standing by and chomping at the bit to get started.

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