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Give A Whoop

Date:June 21, 2009 -  Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
EcoQuest Travel, Inc. is proud to offer an exciting trip, 'Odyssey to Patagonia', to OM supporters. Enjoy a thrilling adventure to the bottom of the world, and at the same time help Operation Migration. Scheduled for January 15 ⹬ 2010, space is limited to 14 individuals so you will want to act quickly to reserve your spot. EcoQuest will donate $200 to OM for each participant.

Comprising the southern-most parts of Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is a vast land of snowcapped mountains, cold oceans, windswept plateaus and unparalleled beauty. Your journey will begin in Santiago, Chileࢵstling capital. From there you will travel south to Punta Arenas and the spectacular World Heritage Site of Torres del Paine National Park. This vast park nestled in the Andes is home to herds of guanaco, Patagonian foxes, diverse birdlife, and even the elusive puma is fairly common.

From the glaciers of Torres del Paine you will ply the Straits of Magellan where you will hopefully catch a glimpse of Commerson࡮d Peale͊ dolphins, Magellanic penguins, and other seabirds. Then it௮ further south to Ushuaia, Argentina to search for albatrosses, kelp geese, and gentoo penguins along the Beagle Channel, and giant Magellanic woodpeckers among the forests of Tierra del Fuego National Park.

Although designed to highlight the wildlife of Patagonia - with a particular emphasis on bird diversity - every opportunity to see mammals will be taken advantage of as well.

EcoQuest Travel invites you to join them to explore the incredible wildlife and breathtaking scenery that makes Patagonia a magical place. They also offer a fantastic post-trip extension that concentrates on the wildlife of the Atacama Desert and high Andes Mountains of Northern Chile.

乳sey to Patagonia쥡ders will be Dave Davenport, Zoologist and President of EcoQuest Travel, Inc., and highly respected Crane and Waterfowl Expert, OM௷n Walter Sturgeon. Dave and Walter will be joined by Chilean naturalist and co-author of 襠Birds of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Antarctic Peninsula,㬡udio Vidal.

For a complete itinerary or if you have any questions, contact Walt Sturgeon or Dave Davenport.

Date:June 20, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:CHICK NEWSLocation: Main Office
Chick 920, which was hatched on May 26th and suspected of having scoliosis, unfortunately had to be euthanized on Friday. Compounding problems due to leg rotation, it was suffering from respiratory issues.

916 has now been designated as a genetic holdback. 919, previously marked as a potential genetic holdback, will now be part of the ultralight-led Class of 2009. At the moment, 923 is also earmarked as a possible genetic holdback.

Cohort 1, consisting of nine chicks (901, 903, 904, 905, 906, 907, 908, 910, and 911) will depart Patuxent for Necedah on Friday, June 25. Thanks to the generosity of Terry and Mary Kohler, their flight, is as usual, compliments of Windway Capital. Anticipated shipping dates for Cohorts 2 and 3 are July 2 and July 10.

Date:June 19, 2009Reporter: Joe Duff
Subject:CREDIT TO WCEP PARTNERSLocation: Main Office
Barbara Behrendt of the St Petersburg Times wrote a great story about the fate of 710 and his transformation from wild bird to resident of the Lowry Park Zoo. It seems her story was picked up by other publications and we are pleased that this kind of publicity will generate interest in Whooping cranes and spread the message that they are wild and should not be approached or fed.

All tolled there are nine agencies and likely a hundred or so people involved in the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP). Each contributes a vital resource, and the sum of all that talent is the success of this project.

Operation Migration plays a fairly high profile role within WCEP, but sometimes we get a little more credit than we deserve. We work with the birds from the time they hatch in May and June until they begin their return migration in March of the following spring. It is a year round commitment for us, but it is also a full time job for the Tracking Team. Co-leaders Sara Zimorski from the International Crane Foundation and Richard Urbanek from US Fish and Wildlife Service monitor the movements of all the older birds all the time, and as the population grows, so does their workload.

The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center begins preparing for the breeding season in April. When it੮ full swing there isnഩme to think. Then, from the time the first cohort arrives in Wisconsin until the migration is complete in Florida, a team that includes Robert Doyle, Brian Clauss and Charlie Shafer is on duty 24/7. The WCEP Health Team chaired by Dr. Glenn Olsen from Patuxent is always ready to assist any injured bird no matter where the mishap occurred.

Marianne Wellington from ICF is leader of the Direct Autumn Release program, and her team is on constant call from spring hatch to the late fall when their birds are released with older Whooping cranes.

There are many members of the Communication Team who must be ready to react to media interest, and people like Beth Kienbaum with the Wisconsin DNR, and Louise Clemency from USFWS spend a good portion of their year working on WCEP matters from data collection to regulatory issues.

The spectacle of modern aircraft leading ancient birds has always drawn the lion೨are of the media attention. Itࡠcommon mistake to label the entire project Operation Migration, but that does not give proper credit to the dozens of people who work hard on behalf of Whooping cranes. We get to fly the airplanes but that௮ly a fraction of the job.

Date: June 18, 2009Reporter: Patricia Gallagher
Subject: ForgivenessLocation: Laurel, MD
Yesterday the Cohort 2 chicks had their health checks. As I mentioned last week, this process can be stressful for the chicks. It can also be stressful for the handlers because we worry that the chicks will associate us with discomfort and be reluctant to follow us the next day. Therefore, we usually give them a peace offering to beg their forgiveness. We hope the chicks will forget the health check and remember the peace offering.

So what is the magic treat that makes chicks forget a needle? You already know we use mealworms to reward the chicks for following the trike. They堬ike chocolate chip cookies. We have something even better for serious crane grievances - smelt! To a crane, smelt is like triple chocolate cake with chocolate ganache icing.

Barb Clauss left me a note saying I could give the chicks smelt. We keep smelt in the freezer for just these occasions, so I thawed some out for the chicks, and I got a few extra out for the adults. They堬ittle fish, so it only takes a few minutes to thaw them in a bowl of water. Then I cut them into small pieces, got the mechanical puppet and started my rounds.

My plan was to go up one aisle and down the other, but I started with my favorite adult, Sadie, because I wanted to see her reaction. I didn৯ in her pen, but put a whole smelt in through the wire mesh. As soon as Sadie saw it, she started dancing with happiness! I watched with delight as she circled and jumped high and then crouched low. I wanted to join her, but I don૮ow the steps.

The chicks saw Sadie too, so they were ready for something special. I started with the Cohort 2 chicks, entering in each run with a piece of smelt in the beak of the puppet. I squatted down to their level and held it out. I gave the larger chicks the choice pieces 䨥 heads and bodies ᮤ saved the smaller tail pieces for the younger chicks. This seemed fair since the younger chicks are in Cohort 3 so they didnਡve their health checks today but Barb didn෡nt to leave them out of the smelt party.

Most of the chicks grabbed at the smelt, pecking and pulling to get it out of the end of the beak, then gobbling it down and looking for more. This was accompanied by repeated happy chick trills. A few of the chicks weren͊ sure about what I was offering, but after a few pecks, they devoured it and looked for more.

As I moved down the row of pens, there were lots of happy chick trills and Sadie dancing, so it really was a party of sorts. When I got to the second adult pen, I slipped a smelt in through the mesh, standing well back because this fellow is fiercely protective of the chicks and pecks at anyone who enters the chick runs on either side of him. Oh, the joy! He stopped scowling at me for once and I could tell his pecks were directed at the smelt instead of me. As I entered the chick pen next to him, he didnॶen peck at me! I left the runs with the sound of happy chick trills in my ears. What a treat for all of us!

Date:June 17, 2009Reporter: Brooke Pennypacker
Subject:CONFUCIUS SAY...Location: Laurel, MD
Confucius once said, ﵠdon૮ow how deep the puddle is until you step in it.毬ks with him at the time claimed he was wearing a lifejacket when he said it. If he worked here at Patuxent, Iࡳk him to borrow it.

Yesterday morning, as the numeral five joined with fifteen to flash up at me from my wrist, I pulled on my boots - pulled them up as hard and as high as their Wal-Mart Chinese craftsmanship and design would allow - and headed off into another Patuxent day excited by the knowledge that the first training session would be Cohort 1; all nine birds training together with the trike for the first time.

Every day here at Patuxent is filled with 鲳tsࢵt I knew this one to be one of my favorites. Minutes later, we䨥 trike, the birds, and their always fearful leader, were marching in a ragged line out to the half-moon field and into the watchful presence of the crowded surrounding trees ﲭs more of shadow than shape, awaiting the sun঩rst kiss of light for resurrection.

As the engine fired to life and we sped down the field for the first time, birds on one side of the knee high fence, trike on the other, I found myself quickly mesmerized by a new and unexpected perspectiveﲠthe birds had grown so tall, almost overnight, and because I sat so low in the trike seat, their heads were almost shoulder high, giving them the appearance more like that of a herd than of a flock. �ing!頴hought. 鴡ri! John Wayne, eat your heart out!ﰾ

Down and back we went and came, over and over with complete allegiance to script. So rhythmic and precise was the flow that my mind began to drift off into the next training session. 堈ere Now,⡭ Dass, aka Richard Alpert, the 60਩ppy guru pleaded, calling out from my youth. 崠Ram,頍 protested, 䒳 not that easy to remain in the present when you堍 executing a project which is so much about the past and the future. This is too much to ask of even the Zen-est of Masters.ﰾ

I remembered, in fact, a time when I pleaded with an internet Zen Master to lead me on the path to such an enlightened state. He answered my query in an email, 根ou knew, you૮oww get off my website before I give you a Sound of One Hand Clapping smackolla in your facearoo.㰯ken like a true cowboy buckaroo Zen Master from Jersey, I thought. Seemed to me then I had found a Zen Master badly in need of a Twelve Step Program to put some past and future into his life and free his clearly tormented soul from the quagmire of the present. Just then I watched as 901 pulled ahead, jumping high a couple of times, wings a waggle with practice beats. But my mind once again wandered into the future.

Then itฺ05 and I looked down to suddenly see 912, 913 and 914 from the yet to be formed Cohort 2, running away from me in a state of frenzied panic as they bolted for the cover of the nearby treeline despite its sinister menace, frightened by a creature seen only by them. I must stop them, and after about half an hour of heart pounding effort, I do.

Then its 11:45, time to work on the circle pen, but the bucket loader with its load of gravel has broken down, so we break out wheel barrows and shovels and an hour of heavy labor follows; and the morning becomes the afternoon. But for now, Iയo busy in the present to deal with itﲴ of.

The stop watch tells me we have five minutes of training left in Cohort 1೥ssion and they are still in ᧩c modeԨis, when suddenly it͊ 9:30, and 915 and 916 appear from the future, running not more than a foot from the trikeಥar tire. They are, as always, in complete synchronization and totally at ease with one another just as they have always been.

But what has not always been, is the unexpected hours old directive from igh䨡t one of these loyal and trusting little souls will not be making the trip to Necedah or, on Migration or, into the wild or, the skies for which they were designed by tens of millions of years of evolution. She will instead fall into the category and life of a genetic holdback, where her world will be the prison of a forever pen, her only consolation the promise that she will one day contribute genetically to future crane release populations. And we must quickly decide which bird it is to be. Even the Wisdom of Solomon would be challenged by this one꠬ike being forced to choose which of your children will be given the opportunity to fulfill his hopes and dreams and which child will be institutionalized for life. It is, of course, all for the long term good of the project, but that doesn͊ deaden the pain.

But all of this is still in the future, and I still have Cohort One͊ training to finish up, and Iथaling with too much future as it is. Besides, in about two hours I have to meet Bev at the circle pen to introduce the trike, engine revving to its full deafening volume, to 927 for the first time, then 928 , then 929, and where they will do beautifully. After all, it௮ly 6:20 am. But I know the day will go on like this, its time will tick away in little collections of moments filled with the uncommon; of pure and wonderful joy; of horribly gut wrenching, stay awake at night sadness; and of all that lies in between with all their attendant demands followed inevitably by measured and hopefully correct, but heavily second guessed responses. It is a quilt designed and threaded together by fate, and it, not me, is in complete control.

So as Cohort 1೥ssion comes to its end, and as I lead them back to their pen, I am reminded for some strange reason of a TV show I watched with delight as a young boy. 塶e It To Beaverᰰeared in 鶩ng Color͊ which was at that time Black and White; the official colors of the Duck and Cover Cold War, when the good guys wore the white hats and it was harder to fake sincerity and easier to detect it, and we were free from the seductive tyranny of the bits and the bites.

The TV set࡮imated glow poured weekly out of its massive console, then the largest piece of furniture in the world, weighing more than a large SUV and taking up three quarters of our living room. So, robust it was that when the house burned down ten years later, it was the only thing left standing. In fact, the then family of five living there simply cut out a door on the side and lived in it happily until the patriarch died at the age of 85, at which time the family excavated a hole nearby and buried him in it.

I think deep down inside myself I harbored the secret hope that one day my life might resemble the Cleaver젷ith all its harmony, simplicity and promise. If memory serves me, at the end of each show the 塶⦡ther, Ward Cleaver, would arrive home from work at a reasonable hour of the evening whereupon he would be greeted enthusiastically by a well dressed and manicured June Cleaver, who would hand him the newspaper which he would then habitually carry into the living room where his huge chair of comforting sanctuary awaited his relaxed decent and heavy landing. Then, as he opened his and only his newspaper, spreading it expansively across himself like a giant comforter, Juneଯvely and loving voice would call out through the delicious dinner odors from the kitchen, how was your day, honey?䯠 which Ward would reply almost absent mindedly in a low, matter of fact tone, 謠you know, just the usual, dear.ﰾ

Clearly, Ward did not work at Patuxent.

Date:June 16, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Liz Condie
In the Tracking Teamଡtest update (see entry below) they also provided distribution details on the EMP. Hereࡠsummary찾In Core Reintroduction Area
Breeding pairs ᰵ & 501*; 211 & 217*; 212 & 419*; 213 & 218*; 310 & W601*; 311 & 312*; 317 & 303*; 318 & 313*; 401 & 508*; 403 & 309*; 408 & 519*; 505 & 415*.

Sub-adult pairs ⱶ & 716* (pair dissolved by the end of the report period, and 716 began associating with 512); 307 & 726*; 316 & D742*; 402 & D746*; 707 & D739*; 709 & 717* (pair since dissolved and 709 may have begun molting); 710 & 722* (pair dissolved with removal of 710 and 722* began associating with 509).

Unpaired adults and sub-adults
412, 416
506, 509, 511, (missing since early May), 512, 514, 520*
D627, D628
724, 703, 706, 712, 713, 733

Outside Core Reintroduction Area
D528*, D527 (was observed associating with 412 in June and performing pre-copulatory display on the refuge before both departed to an undetermined location. This was the first record of D527* in the core reintroduction area since early May 2006. She D737 remained in Jackson County, MI.)

824*, 827, 828 and 830* Juneau County
804, 814, and 818* Jefferson County
805, 812 NNWR
829 last observed in Marquette County May 26.
813* last known locations Monroe County and the NNWR
D831, D836, and D838* Columbia County

Report compiled from data supplied by the WCEP Tracking Team consisting of Richard Urbanek, Eva Szyszkoski, Sara Zimorski, and J. Thompson.

Date:June 16, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
In this report, * = females; D = direct autumn release; NFT = non-functional transmitter.

With the hatch of one chick (Wild901) by surrogate parents 212 & 419*, the estimated maximum size of the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) as of June 13 was 79 birds; 47 males, 31 females, and 1 chick of indeterminate gender.

鳴ribution included 52-55 Whooping cranes in the core reintroduction area in central Wisconsin, 3 at other locations in Wisconsin, and 1 in Lower Michigan,㡩d Dr. Richard Urbanek. A further 4 birds have not been located recently.

The re-nest of sibling pair 317 & 303* failed on June 7 as did that of 309* & 403 on June 14. Richard reported that as a result of their re-nest, the First Family parents 211 & 217* may have already have hatched out a chick or chicks.

Human Avoidance Problems
Subsequent to 710 being removed and transported to Florida̯wry Park Zoo, 722* his female associate, moved to roost on the Necedah refuge. She did make a return visit to the ethanol plant but was easily frightened away with the swamp monster. Back on the refuge, she began associating with 509 and they remained together for the balance of the report period.

709 and 717* who had also been frequenting the ethanol plant moved to the refuge after 710ಥmoval as well and have not returned to the plant.

Status / Location Undetermined
Locations for 516, 524, D533*, D737*, D744* have not been recorded for some time. ﷥ver, at least one the April reports of birds in Lower Michigan have been one or more of these birds,岢anek said.

Report compiled from data supplied by the WCEP Tracking Team consisting of Richard Urbanek, Eva Szyszkoski, Sara Zimorski, and J. Thompson.

Date:June 16, 2009 - Entry 1 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:710 IN FLORIDALocation: Main Office
Florida Craniac and longtime OM supporter, Wanda Easton, emailed to report on 710, the Lowry Park Zoo஥west resident. Although he will still be in quarantine for a few more weeks, Wanda tells us that when she saw him this past Saturday he was peaceful, relaxed, and standing by his pond. She made a visit to the clinic to speak with the vet staff, who advised her that 710 is doing well, and that he is eating crickets and fish. Once out of quarantine, 710 will join Whoopee, the Lowry Park௴her Whooping crane, on exhibit.

Wanda helps out at the Aviary department on Saturdays. Because wild birds and squirrels often help themselves to a share of Whoopeeযod, she is hand fed some of the proteins she needs to ensure her nutritional needs are met. Once her feeding chores are done, Wanda checks out the enclosure to make sure the area is safe and free of debris. Wanda told us, ෩ll be keeping a close watch over your/our boy.ﴤ>

Date:June 15, 2009 - Entry 2 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:WILD901Location: Main Office
The June 12th arrival of Wild901 marked only the second time a migratory Whooping crane has hatched in the wild in the U.S. in more than hundred years. (see Note below) W901 is being wild-reared by parents 212 & 419*, whose own infertile eggs were replaced with an egg taken from ICF࣡ptive flock. The word is that 212 and 419* are exhibiting great parenting skills and are being extremely attentive to little W901.

Along with pair 309* & 403, the First Family parents (211 & 217* who hatched twin chicks in 2006) are still incubating on re-nests on the refuge. Assuming fertility, these eggs should hatch sometime within the next 10 days.

Note: The offspring of First Family parents 211 & 217* were Wild601* and Wild602. The latter was predated on the Necedah refuge ~mid September. Since being led south initially by her parents, W601* has made two more successful migrations and is currently paired with 310.

Date: June 15, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter:Bev Paulan
Subject:SOCIALIZATIONLocation:Laurel, MD

Our last step in the socialization process of a cohort is to take them to the ponded-pen. This is officially the pre-release pen and has a pond in the middle of it. Here we let the birds be birds. We take the entire cohort and initially, under supervision, just let them roam the pen, forage, bathe, sleep, and just be together.

Cohort One - Class of 2009 socializingThe last three days we have taken Cohort One to the pond for a minimum of four hours a day. The cohort consists of chicks 901-911. Overnight we have kept them in pens with 901, 903 and 904 in one pen. 905, 906, 907 and 908 are in another with 910 and 911 in a third. These three groups are matched by age, but also by temperament.

In these small groups, there is a hierarchy and everyone knows their place. When we put the three smaller groups together, that෨en things start to happen. The dynamics of the subgroups are suddenly up for grabs and submissive chicks try to become dominant and dominant chicks get their tails kicked.

901 being the oldest and although a female, the biggest, is by shear size the dominant chick. She rarely throws her weight around and rules the roost by her mere presence. 906 is right in the middle both by age and hierarchy. Today, however, he decided to challenge the leader and luckily got nowhere without being pummeled. He is still shorter than 901 and backed down from the taller chick.

908 has been a fairly aggressive chick to date and has been separated from her subgroup every night. She is very 士y,䡫ing a shot at anyone who gets too close. Today at the pond I actually saw 908 back down from the previously most submissive chick in the cohort, 907. Number 907 is doing what is perfectly normal, trying to rise up in the ranks. She has been submissive since early on, but is slowly stepping up in the world. She walked through the pen this afternoon taking whacks (read pecks) at anyone who happened to be close by. Most of the birds just moved out of her way with only 908 standing up to her. The two girls faced off, did a quick beak spar (each pecking at the otherࢥak). Number 907 got the better of 908 who skulked off with head lowered and one wing out. (This is the most submissive posture a chick can take.)

For the most part though, peace reigned o⠡nd chicks chased dragonflies, frogs and butterflies. They splashed and bathed, preened and stretched, yawned and slept. In other words they did just what a chick would be doing out in the wild.

A quick update on 904: The staff here at Patuxent has been swimming her two to three times a day to strengthen her legs. In less than a weekഩme she has gone from perfect to bowed to perfect again. Today I know she was feeling better because she was running and hopping like she used to. In fact, bringing the birds back from the pond this evening, she led the group; hopping out front of the pack, flapping her wings. She ran far in front, then turned and ran back to join the group, just to turn around and go hopping off again. I haven೥en her do this all week, so my observation is she is definitely on the road to recovery.

Date: June 14, 2009Reporter:Joe Duff
Subject:A CRANE BY ANY OTHER NAMELocation:Main Office

For years now there has been an ongoing debate within our team. Itயt one of those heated arguments. We don๥ll or shake fingers at each other but it has divided the team and there are good points made by both sides. We are not talking about politics or religion or the Packers versus the Dolphins. Instead our discussion centers around whether or not to name the birds.

Even back in the early 1990෨en we were leading Canada geese we didn஡me the birds. OM was a fledgling organization (pun intended) run by two artists in desperate need of scientific credibility in order to be taken seriously by the government agencies that could open up its future. Adding cute names to an idea already considered whimsical by some would not have improved our credentials.

When we finally graduated from geese to Whooping cranes, our qualifications were no longer in question but the wildness of the birds we taught to migrate was. We could control every aspect of their experience to ensure no human contact but that control ended with their release. Thereafter we had to hope that people would keep their distance and let them be wild. The decision to use numbers over names was designed to leave the impression that these birds were not pets.

Dr. Jane Goodall is a good friend to Operation Migration. She came flying with us a few years ago and has been enamored with cranes ever since. Imagine that! She is a primatologist of renown, yet a proponent of naming her Chimpanzees -- and our Whooping cranes. We have had long discussions and she has poked fun at my stubbornness and even taken to calling me Number 17 to see how I like being numbered and not named. Her departure from the seriousness of science to personalizing each of her chimps is based on more than just her affection for them. She contends that people relate better to names and that it gives each individual an identity. Rather than one anonymous creature among many, each one becomes important. It is easier to accept the loss of one bird from a flock of thirty when they all look alike, but if Ichabod or Fraser is gone, all of a sudden itലagic.

It is a new season with a new generation of chicks and the nicknames are already beginning to emerge. But none of them, however, make it to the Field Journal, mostly to maintain the no-name policy but other times because we canలint expletives.

The naming issue has been raised again because of interest from the BBC. They would like to feature Whooping cranes in one episode of an upcoming series featuring baby animals. They would follow one or two chicks from hatch to migration and hope to increase interest and engage viewers by naming them.

You might recall that the last time BBC filmed this project they arbitrarily named the birds in spite of our protests. Between Jane and her country's national broadcaster, this naming idea might be a British thing.

Itயt often we take a public poll but maybe your opinion will add to the debate so lets hear it. Should we, or should we not name the cranes, and most importantly why? If we are going to have an argument, we might as well let everyone join in.

Click to vote and comment

Date: June 13, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:A NEW ADDITION!Location:Main Office

We just received word that 419* and 212 are parents! This pair built a nest on private property, located in Wood County, north of the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in late April. Unfortunately, this nest failed a short time later and upon collecting the eggs, it was discovered that both were infertile.

On May 21st we received news from Wisconsin DNR's Beth Kienbaum that the pair had re-nested in the same location. Wondering about the viability of the pair's second clutch of eggs, WCEP made the decision to visit the nest and float the eggs to determine fertility, and if they were infertile, to swap a soon-to-hatch egg, which was produced by the captive breeding flock at the International Crane Foundation.

On June 11, ICF's Sara Zimorski and Eva Szyszkoski visited the nest to check the eggs and discovered that again, both were infertile, so they replaced these with a fertile egg, which hatched yesterday. Click here for the full story!

We have two additional re-nesting attempts located on the Necedah Refuge, which, pending fertility should hatch within the next week. These two pairs include 211/217* the 'First Family,' which successfully hatched twins in 2006, and 403/309*.

Date: June 13, 2009Reporter:Trish Gallagher
Subject:POOP PATROLLocation:Laurel, MD

Thursday I was on poop patrol. Not the poop-picking type we do every day when we clean the pens. That type of poop patrol is special in its own way 魡gine being the pooper scooper for 14 litter boxes that are each about 10 feet long by 4 feet wide. Thatࡠlot of scooping! But Thursday's patrol was different. The Cohort One chicks had their pre-transport (to Necedah) health checks and one of the checks involves examining their poop. Since Cohort One is living in communal pens, each poop sample needs to be fresh from the source.

The health check involves luring each unsuspecting chick out of the White Series pond pens; slipping a hood over its head, so that it cannot see, and taking it in to Dr. Olson. Dr. Olson performs a physical exam and draws blood. This is all very upsetting for the chicks because they堮ot used to being handled ᮤ who likes to have blood drawn? So when the chick is carried back to the pen and set down, it sometimes poops. Well, if we堬ucky, it poops. Then the handler scoops up the poop (using a wooden tongue depressor) and puts it in a Ziploc bag for later testing. What if the chick doesnయop when you set it down? Well, someone gets to wait in the pen, watching the chicks, waiting for them to poop. Then you rush over to the spot so you can scoop the poop before they move off the spot and you can঩nd it in the grass.

Three of the nine chicks obliged us by pooping right after they were back in the pen, which left us six to catch in the act. Barb Clauss gave me some advice: Wait patiently until they poop. If they堢een sleeping for a while, you can wake them up and try to get them to walk around the pen for a while. Scoop up the whole blob of poop. And try not to get a lot of grass or dirt in the specimen. That was it. Sounds simple, doesnੴ? I was assigned to collect samples from 905, 906, and 908. Peggy, another handler, agreed to take care of 901 and 903. And Barb had to take 904 for swim, so she took care of her.

Peggy and I went out to the pens together and set up a watch. 905 and 906 were sound asleep in different parts of the pen. 907 and 908 were awake and pecking around. I watched 908 for a few minutes and then decided to walk around the pen a little bit. 905 woke up as I went by. She yawned and stretched and obliged me by getting up and starting to walk around the pen. She made a beeline for the puddle in the pen, which usually has a good supply of worms. I didn෡nt her standing there when she pooped because I didnനink I was allowed to collect a specimen that had been deposited in water. I tried to keep her moving out of the puddle with limited success. So there we were at the back of the pen, me and 905, 907, and 908, all staring at each other. The chicks are looking at me as if to say, 嬬, what஥xt?钭 sending telepathic responses, 筯n, poop.ﮬy 907 got the message and she promptly did as requested 튉but she was the one chick that didn஥ed to give me a sample.

Within 5 minutes, I saw Peggy get one specimen. I looked at 905 and 908 and told them (mentally, of course) that they should follow the example of that other chick and do as requested. They ignored me. We kept up the parade for a while and then 905 decided it was time to get back to her nap. I focused on 908 and out of the corner of my eye, saw Peggy bend over to collect her second specimen. I scowled under my costume and told 908 that it wasn಩ght that Peggy was done with 901 and 903 when 908 hadnయoped at all! 908 decided that it was time for a nap.

Peggy came over and gestured to let me know that she would head back to tell Barb of my limited success. About this time, 906 woke up and decided to get up and start strolling around the pen. A few minutes later, I successfully retrieved my first sample. Then 908 got up again and came over near me and I had my second success. 905 was still asleep. Erin Harris, another OM intern, came over to relieve me for a while. I went off and had lunch and got to worrying about Erin because she was still over in the White Series. I went back to relieve her and found 905 asleep again! Erin reported that 905 had gotten up and walked around and then went back to sleep. Still no poop after two hours so I resumed my vigil. Barb came over to check on my progress, but just then 905 got up so I shooed Barb away and went back to staring at 905ࢥhind. At last she pooped and I rushed over and collected my third specimen. Success! I could go home for the day, knowing I did my part.

Date: June 12, 2009Reporter: Bev Paulan
Subject:NOTHING ORDINARYLocation:Laurel, MD

There are no ordinary days here at Patuxent, or for that matter anywhere on this project. Tuesday was my day off, but as is typical for all of us, I put in some time. As I did yesterday, too, my other day off. We still have some young chicks we are introducing to the trike for the first time. Brooke and I have a great way of working together doing this, so when he asked for help I naturally said yes. Besides, who could ever possibly say no to this precious moment.

When I walked into the propagation building Tuesday morning to grab my costume, Barb Clauss was in a very serious discussion with Dr. Olsen, the vet. I asked what was up and she said that 904 had developed a severely bowed leg. If this is bad enough, it could lead to euthanization, so none of us were very happy at that moment.

Dr. Olsen advised to swim the chick three times a day and this might prevent the leg from getting worse and might, just might, improve it. We usually will only swim birds until they are 21 days old, going longer if the legs are weak or starting to rotate. So swimming a 34 day old chick is a big deal. No one hesitated to swim her and the first session commenced immediately.

Yesterday when I popped in, the news was cautiously optimistic. It seemed her leg was looking better. We couldnਡve asked for a better report. Brooke and I went off to train the youngest chicks with varying success. 925 needed some extra work because he wasnযllowing too well, 926 was doing great and we got a half of a lap out of him before the heat got too oppressive.

This morning, everyone was a-twitter, talking up a storm about 904. ᶥ you seen her legs?硳 the question I was asked by several people. I hadn͊ yet seen how bad they were but when I trained her Monday morning, they looked straight. Thatനe funny thing about these chicks. They grow so fast that literally overnight, a straight leg can bow. We have seen it happen year after year. It always makes my heart sink, and we have never been able to correct the problem. So I hesitated to go look at her legs, fearing the worst. So off I went to help Brooke with the training.

We introduced 927, 928 and 929 to the trike engine this morning with various amounts of success. Thatயt quite right - I should say we tried. 927 was so afraid of just being in the circle pen, all we did was let him eat meal worms while the vocalizer blared out over the loudspeaker mounted to the trike. Brooke spun the prop (I envisioned him making engines noises with his lips), wiggled the winglet and pushed the machine back and forth. Just these small movements sent 927 peeping like a baby, so we settled with just walking him around the pen.

928 did much better, merely jumping into my lap and trying to burrow into my feathers, aka the costume. While this is extremely endearing to me, it serves no purpose, so after Brooke turned off the engine, I gently placed him back on the ground to try it again. Eventually we got him to calm down and eat mealworms , but couldn৥t him to relax enough to follow the trike.

929 had a similar response, except instead of crawling into my lap, he dropped straight to the ground in a cowering position. When we got him back to standing up, he would eat an occasional mealworm, but he was shaking so much from fright we called it a day with him.

So now it was time to head back to the propagation building and overcome my own fears by taking a look at 904. Trish was going to walk her over to the White Series pond to be with the rest of the cohort and I volunteered to take her so I could evaluate her leg myself. I walked slowly up to her pen with trepidation. I turned on the vocalizer and opened the gate and looked in. She was hock sitting and preening her newly sprouting feathers. She saw me and stood and slowly ambled over towards me. I started to cringe before I realized I was looking at a pair of nearly straight legs. Unbelievably, the swimming has worked and her leg, which two days ago looked horrible, looked wonderful. I know we are not out of the woods yet, but we are definitely on the way.

So once again, just another day at Patuxent, complete with the rollercoaster ride, was not an ordinary one. I would have to say it was quite an extraordinary one.

Date: June 11, 2009Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:CLASS OF 2009Location:Main Office

This morning Bev advised that the final Class of 2009 chick hatched out yesterday. Chick #931 is from the captive flock at the International Crane Foundation and is the youngest member of this year's class of "ultra-cranes."

The oldest, #901, hatched May 3, giving us a a 38-day age span in the group. Presently twenty-six chicks are undergoing training and of these there are a couple of genetically valuable chicks which will be held back to augment the captive population. Once these are determined, we'll know the final list of ultra-cranes.

Cohort One has been determined and each chick will undergo a health check today, in preparation for their transfer to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, currently schedule for June 25th. Cohort One includes: 901, 903, 904, 905, 906, 907, 908, 910 and 911.

In the meantime, if you would like to meet each chick, we encourage you to visit Journey North's Meet the 2009 Whooping Crane Chick page.

Chick # Gender Hatch Date


901 F 5/3 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
903 5/4 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
904 F 5/6 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
905 F 5/6 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  


M 5/6 Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Offspring of 403/309*
907 F 5/7 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  


F 5/8 Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Offspring of 403/309*
910 M 5/9 Calgary Zoo: Devonian Conservation Center  
911 M 5/11 Calgary Zoo: Devonian Conservation Center  
912 M 5/14 Calgary Zoo: Devonian Conservation Center  
913 M 5/14 Calgary Zoo: Devonian Conservation Center  
914 F 5/16 International Crane Foundation  
915 F 5/16 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Possible genetic holdback
916 F 5/18 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Possible genetic holdback
918 M 5/18 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
919 M 5/26 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
920 M 5/26 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
922 F 5/28 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
923 M 5/28 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
924 M 5/28 Calgary Zoo: Devonian Conservation Center  
925 F 5/29 Calgary Zoo: Devonian Conservation Center  
926 F 6/03 International Crane Foundation  
927 M 6/05 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
928 M 6/05 International Crane Foundation  
929 M 6/05 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Genetic holdback
930 pending 6/07 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Genetic holdback
931 pending 6/10 International Crane Foundation  

Date: June 10, 2009Reporter:Bev Paulan
Subject:THE VIEW FROM HERELocation:Laurel, MD

One piece of equipment I wish I had was a helmet cam. A small unobtrusive digital video camera that would record everything I see on a daily basis and which I could share with you. It would be much easier to share the video so you could actually see everything, than for me to try to describe with mere words what I see.

You would see 904 jumping straight up and down, wings flapping, just because she is so excited to be out of her pen.

You would see 910 picking apart a pile of dried grass in his ongoing search for worms. You would see him grab a beak full, shaking it to shreds, and then go in for another.

You would see 925 swim for the first time. You would smile as wide as I do as he cranes his neck all the way forward; kicking for all he is worth to reach the end of the pool. You would notice the little wake he creates behind him, as all the chicks do.

You would see 918 look up at a butterfly flitting overhead, then take off at full run trying to catch the elusive insect. You would also see him jump up and try to grab it just as its darts off.

You would look back from the seat of the trike, watching six gangly pre-adolescent birds, blood feathers growing in and making wings heavy. You would giggle right along with me as they jockey for position just like horses in a race.

You would see 913 and 914 whirling about like dervishes as they try to peck each others necks. You would see the puppet reach down and gently move between them to separate them and the white sleeve flap to distract them. You then would not be able to see the blurred image as I started to run to encourage the chicks to follow me instead of pummeling each other.

You would see an incubator door open up, a red dish full of crumbled crane chow placed inside, hear the vocalizer start to play the brood call and watch as the puppet bill dips in the water, then the crumbles, then as it is placed in front of the chickডce. You would watch as a sleepy, uncoordinated chick stumbled towards the puppet, gaping mouth trying to grab at the bill.

You would see 908 trying to take a bath in her footbath, writhing to get her rapidly growing body completely immersed in the water. You would watch her dip her head under the water, raising it to let the cool liquid cascade down her neck and over her back. You would then see her jump out of the water and start to leap and run, flapping the whole time as she dries herself.

You would see 922, eyes wide as saucers, as frightened as could be, staying as close behind the moving trike as he can. You can sense his fear of being left behind is far greater than his fear of the loud machine.

You would fall in love with each chick, each antic just as I have. As only one can by being a witness to these amazing creatures.

Date:June 9, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter:Joe Duff

The loss of 710 has prompted many emails and several postings in the guestbook most of which express sadness that he will spend the rest of his life in captivity. It is disheartening to think of a wild, migratory bird grounded for life but itயt all bad.

Number 710 is now at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa FL. He is still in quarantine but will soon be introduced to Whoopee, their lone female Whooping crane. The staff members at the zoo are friends of this project and 710 will be a celebrity, helping to spread a conservation message and a warning of the dangers of tameness. He may not be able to fly but he will be well loved, live longer, eat better, enjoy good health and spend the rest of his days with his new mate. Not a bad trade off.

There were also many messages suggesting that maybe we gave up too easily on 710 and you can bet that question has caused us some soul searching. Maybe we can change our protocol to prevent this happening in the future; maybe we can work more closely with the staff at the ethanol plant to lessen the attraction, or maybe we can ensure the message that kindness kills wildness is spread to a larger audience.

If we take on the responsibility of reintroducing these birds, we also accept the blame when it goes wrong and that culpability must also be considered.

An adult whooping crane is almost 5 feet tall with a sharp beak, a lethal front toenail and powerful wings. Being chased from a park by an aggressive goose is one thing but an attack by an overly tame crane that feels threatened or territorial might be considered grounds for legal action. If you are the victim of a wild animal attack you can generally blame yourself for not understanding or ignoring the ways of nature. But if the animal in question is only there because of a reintroduction program supported by federal and state agencies, as well as private organizations, you have a long list of who you might blame, especially in a society as litigious as the United States.

So not only do we have to worry about the downside of tameness for the birds but we must also consider what effect an injury to a member of the public might have on the overall project.

As I said before 穬dness is a tough one.

Date: June 9, 2009Reporter:Joe Duff
Subject:HUMAN AVOIDANCELocation:Main Office

A supporter recently asked the following question. It is one the has been asked before and not easily answered so I thought I would share my response.

One thing has bothered me about the isolation training and I was wondering if you could address it for me. Your protocols are all about positive reinforcement and isolation from humans. While I understand that, I think you're missing one vital leg. You are not really doing any negative reinforcement (beyond the swamp monster).

These birds are learning all the good things in life, but not the bad. Then, when they encounter the bad (be it human or predator) they don't really know what to do. I think a bit more negative reinforcement would be a very good thing for these birds. Have a human or two run at them at Necedah, yelling and waiving their arms. Scare the bejezzus out of them. If one or two stick around, grab them (safely, of course). Sink it into their tiny skulls that HUMANS=BAD, COSTUMES=GOOD. You could do something similar with predators. I'm sure there is a captive bobcat or coyote living at a wildlife center somewhere in Wisconsin. Have their handler bring them over (on a leash or other restraint, of course) and when the chicks see the predator, have the crane wrangler run for dear life in the other direction braying the distress call as loud as they can. PREDATOR=BAD. Same thing with golden eagles or whatever other predators they face.

It's not only your job to train these birds how to find food and migrate, but also how to avoid the dangers in their lives. From what I've read in the 10 years of following Operation Migration, you have not done that. #710 is a perfect example. He should have never gone to the swamp near houses in the first place, but you never taught him that houses were BAD. He should have avoided people, but you never taught him people were BAD. He should have avoided the big trucks and factory, but you never taught him they were BAD. People are going to be stupid and do things against the best interests of the cranes. It's your job to make sure the birds don't let them get that close.

The difficulty with human or predator avoidance conditioning is that it has to be applied with great care so as to not injure the bird, yet enough enthusiasm to convey the message. Thatࡠdelicate balance, especially when applied to such valuable birds and when the results of getting it wrong have such lasting consequences.

If you live next to a highway, the best dog to own is one that has been hit by a car but not killed. That dog will respect the boundaries and likely never get hit again, but itࡠhard lesson and we canഡke the risk of almost killing a Whooping crane. However, anything short of that ultimate message has the opposite affect. Birds, especially young ones that are learning by example, quickly realize that no harm came to them and will adjust their tolerance accordingly. As evidence to that just watch the crows picking at a carcass only a few feet from speeding cars.

Each year a few of the older birds drop into the training sites while we are working with the new generation of chicks. They stand in the way so we can୯ve the aircraft and generally distract attention from the task at hand. If you have ever watched the team try to chase off one of these interlopers you would instantly see the difficulty in applying human avoidance conditioning. No matter how aggressive our approach, the birds will fly off just far enough to be out of reach. We run the length of the runway at full speed and the adult birds will trot just ahead of you. Many times I have used the aircraft to herd them so I can chase them faster but no matter what speed I choose they stay just ahead of me. If we pursue them beyond the end of the runway into the marsh they maintain that same safe distance while gliding over the mud on legs made for exactly that purpose, while we struggle up to our knees. Then in an act of pure humiliation they fly back and land next to the chicks and unison call in victory. Itਡrd to smirk with a beak but somehow they manage.

During our second season, two first year birds began to frequent the West site. This was our first encounter with the now wild sub-adults and we were worried they might be aggressive to the chicks. Our plan was to set up a section of our travel pen and trap them. We left them there all day without food or water hoping to make it a negative experience. In the late afternoon we approached from behind with umbrellas, balloons and noise makers of all sorts. We burst from the shadows just as they were released and made such a racket you would swear the sky was falling. We were convinced we would never see them there again but were astonished when they landed on the other end of the runway, completely unfazed.

We have discussed the issue of human avoidance for years. We have read all the papers, developed new tools and even designed scary costumes but none of it can be properly applied.

Take as an example your suggestion of a domesticated Bobcat. We would likely hide the pseudo predator in the tall grass next to the runway and lead the birds out into the open. Then on signal the cat would charge out as we run off playing the distress call. I suspect that some of the birds would follow us but they are predisposed to abandon parents and hide. Some might head back to the perceived safety of the pen; others might freeze in confusion. So now we have chicks running in all directions and a Bobcat held at bay, and the lesson learned is that nothing happened. Instead of avoidance we taught tolerance.

Prior to 710଩festyle change from free-flying Whooping crane to display bird, the Tracking Team tried many things to dissuade him. But limited by our desire not to cause pain or injury, we simply do not pose a real threat and they learn that lesson quickly.

We must also be concerned about capture or exertional myopathy. It is a condition that can be caused by trauma and can result in paralysis and is often fatal. We have lost several birds to myopathy from procedures as simple as holding them long enough to affix leg bands.

I am also not sure I agree with your premise that we need to teach the birds to fear buildings or trucks or even people. In the short time wild birds spend learning from their parents surely not all of them have encountered all those human environments and learned the avoidance lesson. But that does not mean they are automatically tamed to the first person they encounter. Their natural fear of the unknown keeps them at a safe distance and that is the lesson we work hard to teach but maybe itயt enough.

The loss of 710 has raised the question of human avoidance again. We will likely try some limited application this year once we come up with an approved method.

I want to assure you though that we take our responsibility to these birds seriously. We are not derelict in our duties but itயt as easy as you make it sound. Nothing to do with Whooping cranes ever is. From all the efforts we do take to isolate the birds from all things human we have learned our own hard lesson: Tame is easy -- but wild is tough.

Date: June 8, 2009Reporter:Brooke Pennypacker
Subject:NEW BEGINNINGSLocation:Laurel, MD

The name ᴵxent㯭es from the Indian word, 姩nningOr if it doesn젩t should. For it is here at Patuxent where the project begins its transition from hope, dream and plan to reality, as chick after whooper chick battles their way out of the egg to emerge into a world full of new beginnings.

This morning, as the dawn broke cool and reassuring over Patuxent, the awakening continued as I stood at the pen gate, costumed up as always, vocalizer singing its siren brood call, my puppet head/magic crane wand at the ready.

Though I have stood here before on other days in other years, looking down on other chicks, this moment is always special; never ceasing to give me pause and fill me with wonder for it is to be chick number 922঩rst walk out of his pen and into his new world. Just inside, low and almost indistinguishable in the colors and textures and playful shadows stood little five-day old 922, expectantly gazing up at me with a slight tremble of uncertainty but mixed with a special power. A power forged in his genes over millions of years, designed to transport him gently over the grounds of Patuxent and to lift him high into the skies of Necedah and beyond, on the journey to fulfill his destiny... the power of TRUST.

I swung open the gate and through it he ran without hesitation and followed in short sprints, punctuated with cautious pauses, his little legs no thicker than a few tooth picks blurred as they carried this precious brown ball of fluff through the grass. Each blade an obstacle demanding traverse yet a universe to be understood. And with each pause, his little mind was bombarded by a virtual kaleidoscope of colors and shapes and sounds. How could his tiny spirit cope with this profound blast of cosmic psychedelia I wondered? What great power does he possess that protects him from overload? I synched my progress with his, the leader becoming the follower, as his little head scanned his new world in quick jerks and his eyes widened in alternating fear and delight. How I wished he would allow me to see it all through his eyes and experience it in all its majesty, its benevolence, its threat, to be continually reborn with every moment and movement.

And how, I wondered, is it possible for this amazing little creature to be so trusting, to follow into the unknown this strangely dressed giant who plods so heavily upon the earth only steps away with boots that could instantly crush the life out of him with a single misstep.

Up the grassy hill we climbed towards todayथstination - the trike, parked and waiting near the circle-pen. Minutes later my little hero was standing in its shadow, the scale of which was like me standing under the space shuttle. He looked hard at the behemoth and I think, seemed to sense its significance, his curiosity overcoming his fear.

"Today we form our partnership,頡nnounced in voice only mind could hear. ﵬ me and this silly looking contraption of black and yellow. And together we will climb up into the above; that other world of wind and cloud and height, the world where you are the citizen and I the clumsy visitor. And after a time, it will no longer belong to us, only to you, and you will soar high and away, carrying on your strong wings our hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow. Think you can handle all that extra baggage, little guy? Trust me - You can.ﰾ

Too soon, we were making our descent, this time walking side-by-side with steps more rhythmic and assured. Tomorrow we will again ascend to the trike where Bev will be waiting to greet us, for we will then start the engine for the first time, and the noise will be frightening, like launching a rocket next a stroller in which a baby sleeps. But as the minutes pass, Bev࣡lming conditioning technique and caring will rob the deafening roar of its threat, dampening it into submission, then acceptance, then even desire. Then around the circle pen we will go... and go...and go. And together we will continue to explore the landscape of your trust.

As I swung the gate shut, I paused for a moment to look down at this wonderful little fellow standing so proudly, it seemed to me, in the vast afterglow of discovery and achievement. As I did, he returned my gaze with his own, and for a moment I felt his eyes look through my one-way helmet visor, through my eyes and into my soul as he spoke to me in a calm reassuring tone, ﵠare my teacher and you have much to teach me. But please know that I am also your teacher and if you listen, I will teach you much about very special things... like trust, courage, kindness, hope and even love. They are within you, in the place where they have always been, but I will draw them out for you to see so that you may watch them grow and cherish and appreciate them as we proceed on our journey together. So, see you tomorrow, my friend.奄

ﭯrrow then, little #922ﰾ

Date: June 7, 2009Reporter:Joe Duff
Subject:THE TAMING OF #710Location:Main Office

If you have followed this project for any length of time you will know that the single message we repeat at every opportunity is please donࡰproach our birds. That request is posted on many partners websites; accompanies every press release; and punctuates our presentations but still there are those that donਥed the warning.

Teaching birds to migrate is not an easy task. It takes a year-long commitment for every generation we release, and a crew of twelve to compete the migration. Adding an isolation protocol and removing all human elements multiplies the complexity by a factor of ten. We fly our aircraft with peripheral vision limited by goggles that hide our eyes and suffer through the heat of July in full-length costumes. We restrict all access to a small, but essential crew; keep the birds away from buildings and cars, and ensure that their every experience is as natural as we can make it.

Simple tasks like cutting the grass on the training strips adjacent their Necedah enclosures, or making repairs requires extra people to sequester the birds away from the area while the work is completed. Each migration stopover we select must have an isolated area to place the pen and another one to hide the birds while it೥t up. And all the while we live in fear that someone will approach the birds in the belief that their curiosity takes precedence over our hard work.

There are those that believe that our protocol excludes everyone but them; and others that feel tameness in wild animals is a fact of life and that only those that have learned to live in proximity to people will survive.

But Whooping cranes are a paradigm of the kind of wildness that exists beyond the backyard in the regions outside the security of a park. They are denizens of the open and inaccessible wetlands and surely we can make a space for them to exist as they were meant to be.

Most of the people who follow this project understand what we are trying to achieve but there are also those who choose to ignore it. Among them a woman who lives on Tooke Lake in Florida where crane #710 and four other birds wintered last year. The local residents understood the problem of the five cranes being attracted to backyard songbird feeders and agreed to stop the practice while the tracking team used all their tools to flush them away. But one woman ignored the pleas and continued to provide food to attract them.

Of the five birds that used her feeder, number 710 was the worst offender. Completely tamed to people and cars he began to frequent the ethanol plant near the Necedah Refuge once he returned to Wisconsin. Attracted by a free meal of spilled corn, he became accustomed to trucks and traffic. His presence there attracted other birds and often as many as 9 were there at one time. The tracking team tried using our swamp monster but it only worked for a short time and Mylar strips hung on string only worked for a day or so. It didnഡke long before 710 realized that no harm came to him if he didnবy away.

Above and beyond the job of monitoring the 79 birds that are now in this population, keeping 710 away from the ethanol plant became a constant problem for the Tracking Team. Believing he was completely corrupted and beyond rehabilitation and any chance of ever being wild again they asked WCEP and the Recovery Team for permission to remove 710 from the study. So last Tuesday he was captured and temporarily moved to the International Crane Foundation. Yesterday, he was relocated to the Lowry Park Zoo in Florida to spend the remainder of his life as a captive display bird.

The ethanol plant will continue to be an attraction to our birds. It is very visible from the air and the spilled corn must be tempting. Maybe in the future we can use a well trained dog as a constant deterrent or treat the spilled corm with foul tasting chemicals. We could try to relocate persistent birds or use a handheld lazar gun called an avian dissuader to flush them away.

After the extreme measures it took to get 710 into the wild and after completing two round-trips to Florida and back on his own, it seems a shame that he will never fly again.

But maybe his fate will reinforce our message that kindness kills wildness and Whooping cranes need a place of their own.

Date: June 6, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:CLASS OF 2009Location:Main Office

Current chick summary:

Chick # Gender Hatch Date


901 F 5/3 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
903 5/4 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
904 F 5/6 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
905 F 5/6 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  


M 5/6 Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Offspring of 403/309*
907 F 5/7 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  


F 5/8 Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Offspring of 403/309*
910 M 5/9 Calgary Zoo: Devonian Conservation Center  
911 M 5/11 Calgary Zoo: Devonian Conservation Center  
912 M 5/14 Calgary Zoo: Devonian Conservation Center  
913 M 5/14 Calgary Zoo: Devonian Conservation Center  
914 F 5/16 International Crane Foundation  
915 F 5/16 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
916 F 5/18 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
918 M 5/18 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
919 M 5/26 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Possible genetic holdback
920 M 5/26 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
922 F 5/28 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
923 M 5/28 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Possible genetic holdback
924 M 5/28 Calgary Zoo: Devonian Conservation Center  
925 F 5/29 Calgary Zoo: Devonian Conservation Center  
926 F 6/03 International Crane Foundation  
927 M 6/05 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
928 M 6/05 International Crane Foundation  
929 M 6/05 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center  
931 pending 6/10 International Crane Foundation  

Date: June 6, 2009Reporter:Trish Gallagher
Subject:THE RUNAWAYLocation:Laurel, MD

Barb Clauss asked me to help walk chicks out to the white series pens for their socialization period. The best part of this job is being with the chicks and seeing their antics, so I was eager to help. I was assigned 907 and 908 while Barb took charge of 905, 906, 910 and 911 and together, we made our way out to the pens. Robert Doyle was already there with 901, 903, and 904, so I left Barb and Robert to oversee cohort one, while I went off to feed the younger chicks, still inside the propagation building.

About an hour later, I returned to help walk the group back in. Robert and I started with 901, 903, and 904, which weren୵ch problem at all, so while Robert continued on, I went back to help Barb with the other six. Barb had gotten 910 and 911 out of the pens into the aisle way and handed them off to me to walk back to their pens. This was my first time putting two chicks away by myself, so I had my usual nerves because I wanted to do it right. When I asked Barb later if she had intended the exercise to be a test, she replied that she thought it was going to be easy. Little did she know...

Getting chicks back inside their pens is sometimes a challenge that requires a great deal of patience. Chicks will usually follow you quite happily into the fenced area where their pens are and then sometimes just stop in the aisle way �be itࢥcause they don෡nt the adventure to end. I堷atched experienced handlers deal with recalcitrant chicks, and I usually breathe a sigh of relief that I donਡve to coax them into their pens. But 910 and 911 are usually cooperative and I felt confident that I could handle this task.

I started walking toward the pens with the chicks and everything went fine just until Barb was out of sight. Then 911 decided to stop in the drying mud puddle near the perimeter gates of the white series to forage for worms. I went back for him just as he spotted a moth and gave chase. It was so funny to watch him chase the moth, darting high, then feinting low and just missing it time and again. It was like watching a cat, only funnier, because 911 is all gangly legs and knees, like a teenager who hasn৲own into his body yet. Once the moth flew away I managed to get his attention and got him moving through the gates. Meanwhile, 910 was being a cooperative chick, staying near me and trilling away, pecking at the worms while he waited.

As we got to the halfway point between the white series and the propagation building pens, I was starting to think that I could pull this off. They were moving along nicely, occasionally stopping to pluck a nice juicy worm, when all of a sudden, 911 turned around and started running full speed -- in the opposite direction! Heயt supposed to do that, heࢥen conditioned to follow the puppet, not head off on his own! Why donനey pull these tricks when an experienced handler is around? Can they sense Iࡠnovice?

At the same time, 910 saw his pen in the distance and started running for it! My heart sank. Two chicks going in opposite directions and me standing there, mouth gaping under my costume, looking back and forth, horrified! I didnॸactly panic, but I didn૮ow what to do either. I decided that 910 would be safe as long as he was in the fenced area near his pen, so as soon as he got though the gate, I hustled after 911 and fumbled for my cell phone to call Barb. Of course, she didn࡮swer so I just kept walking after 911, thinking यnॶen have any meal worms to make him cooperate! What do I do? I can఩ck him up!쯰>

Finally, Barb, who had wondered if something was wrong when her phone vibrated, saw me heading off into the field began toward us with the other chicks. Predictably, when 911 heard the trills of the other chicks, he turned around and began running back toward the group. And even though I wanted to reprimand him, just how does one reprimand a Whooping crane chick? so I heaved a huge sigh of relief that disaster was averted. I returned to where 910 was patiently waiting and led him into his pen, and then led 907 and 908 back. I left Barb to deal with 911. It was such a relief to put him in experienced hands. You can guess the ending. With Barb he behaved like a little angel.

Date:June 5, 2009 Reporter:Bev Paulan
Subject:RAINY DAYSLocation:Laurel, MD

Itಡining. Again. It seems that it has rained every day since I arrived here the first of May. I donനink I am far off with that statement as it was officially declared the second wettest May on record for this area. Our boots are now not just a required part of the costume, but are now required footwear just to walk across the compound. There are puddles everywhere, with the seemingly largest one right outside our trailer door.

The upside to the rain is that everything is very lush looking. On that rare occasion the sun does come out, the green is almost overwhelming. The downsides to the rain are almost too numerous to list.

First off, training canࢥ done. We try to train the birds very first thing in the morning, coming in before anyone else to get started. We do this to avoid the heat and also to make sure we get the birds trained early enough so that there is enough time for the walks, the swims and the socializing---of the birds that is, not us. When it is raining like this it completely throws off the schedule. If we miss a day of training, it is not the end of the world, but when we are getting the youngest birds just introduced to the trike, it is critical to maintain a consistent schedule of every day.

We also don෡lk the birds in the rain, or swim them. This is not so much because the birds might melt, but for the very practical reason that we get soaked. Poor us, you say. It is actually because when our costumes get wet, they become see-through and we don෡nt the birds seeing us underneath. A light mist would be no big deal, but the downpours we have been having keep us all inside.

By far though, the worst part of the rain is the worms it brings out. There are worms everywhere. So what, you ask? Chicks love worms. They love worms far more than they love the costume. They become so engrossed with eating the worms, they wonযllow. We can get them out of their runs, can get them about 6 feet past the gate, then everything comes to a screeching halt. Birds start running helter skelter as they all go chasing worms. It becomes a true feeding frenzy. Try as hard as we might, there is no moving the chicks until the worms are all consumed.

We try waving the puppet right under their noses, well beaks. We try flapping the sleeve of our costume. We turn up the volume on the vocalizer--All to no avail. So we instead become patient. Extremely patient. In reality, this is what we want the chicks to be doing. Finding good food on their own. Learning to forage, to survive. It just gets hard to handle when we want them to do it on our schedule, not theirs. But then, I remind myself, we are trying to create wild birds, not little trick ponies that perform on cue.

So we wait for the rain to end so we can continue our day. Then we will try to entice the birds through the ever growing worm fields. And if they stop to forage, so be it. I will stop and enjoy the site of these beautiful downy chicks doing exactly what their wild counterparts are doing--learning what is yummy and what will sustain them in the wild.

Date: June 4, 2009Reporter:Trish Gallagher
Subject:SOCIALIZINGLocation:Laurel, MD

Saturday was a day Iࢥen waiting for anxiously for over a week 頧ot to help socialize chicks! With all the new arrivals, my help was needed with feeding, and every day someone said, ﭯrrow you젧et to socialize.䨥 day finally arrived, so with nervous anticipation, I went out to the white series where Brian Clauss was sitting with 903. He left me there with 903 while he went back to help Bev get the other chicks. He told me that while the chicks are there, the handlers try to sit there like bumps on logs and watch, intervening only if two chicks start bickering. So I sat down with 903 and enjoyed.

It is amazing to be in the presence of these chicks and I feel so lucky to be an intern. 903 is huge now 尠past my knee! I could see where his feathers are starting to grow in and he has these cute little Shrek-like tufts where his ears are. We sat in companionable silence, with 903 exploring the pen. He pecked a few times at my costume and then moved away to explore. I waited for what seemed like a long time, but it was probably only about 10 minutes and then I heard the peeps and saw Brian and Bev arriving with 8 chicks toddling along behind -- What a procession.

As the chicks came into the pen, a few came toward me, but most of them hung with Brian. Bev stayed for a few minutes and then left to go clean pens. Mostly, we just sat there letting the chicks be chicks, but every 10 minutes or so, as the tension started to rise and the chicks started poking at each other (like kids in the backseat of a car), Brian and I would walk them to the end of the pen just to distract them.

910 loved the back of the pen. There is straw on the ground next to the fence, and he stood there, picking up big clumps of straw and throwing it aside, looking for worms. As I walked back to the front, he stayed behind, until the vocalizer started to get out of range and then he looked up and saw I was halfway down the pen and came running toward me. After that he got distracted by the straw at the side of the pen and went back to throwing clumps of it around.

With all those chicks in the pen, I couldnഥll them apart. I knew I was supposed to watch which ones got in each otherডces, but I couldnॶen tell which was which! I could see 903 with his pink leg band and 910 with his white leg band, but I couldnഥll the rest apart. My head was spinning as I tried to read their leg bands and remember everyone. And, of course, as soon as I knew the three in front of me, they would run over by Brian and Iਡve a new group to try and identify. And I was supposed to be sitting there like a bump on a log, not sneaking up behind the chicks trying to read the numbers on their leg bands. And there were nine of them! I decided I would have to make a list of colors and numbers and memorize it before my next time socializing or I wouldnࢥ very good at the reporting part of it.

Later, Brian was telling Bev with absolute certainty that so-and-so was in so-and-soডce and I asked him how he could tell them apart. Bev laughed and then let me in on the secret to easy chick identification. The chickଥg bands go in the same sequence over and over ⬵e, green, pink, white, yellow. In our particular group, the blue bands belonged to 901, 906, and 911, while the green belonged to 907. The pinks were 903 and 908. Beyond that you can tell them apart by size. I think it will be much easier to tell Bev about altercations between chicks next time.

Date:June 3, 2009 Reporter:Bev Paulan
Subject:FIRST VISIT TO THE TRIKELocation:Laurel, MD

There is only one first time. Whether it is that proverbial first impression, a first kiss or the first step your toddler takes, it is always memorable. A chick঩rst visit to the trike is no different. And like that first impression, it has to be right or we are in for a lot of work.

918 led to waiting ultralightThis week, all the younger chicks are getting their 鲳ts.Ϯ Saturday, I took 918 out to the trike for the first time just to let him wander around it and under it. We turn the vocalizer on, trying to give him the whole sensory experience. We feed the chick meal worms and let him get comfortable just seeing it. On Monday, with Brookeਥlp, we started the engine for the little guy. This is always a two-person job; one at the trike and one in the circle pen with the chick. The person in the pen keeps the chick between them and the fence and the person at the trike starts and stops the engine depending on the reaction of the chick.

For every chick, there is a different reaction. Some are very afraid of the loud noise and run away, or rub up against the fence trying to get out of the pen. Some just drop right down and become nearly paralyzed with fear. Others run off a short distance but can be coaxed back right away with a meal worm. Yet others, like 918, seemingly have no fear and after only a flinch, and hardly noticeable at that, are back to eating the meal worms in no time at all.

Training a chick to the trike is no different than training a dog or cat to do a trick. It is called classical conditioning by the animal behaviorists and trainers. It is actually a rather simple process of rewarding the desired behavior. If the chick stays near the trike, he gets a meal worm. If he runs away, he will only get a meal worm if he comes back. After the initial engine start, if he is not too terrified, the only time he gets meal worms is when the engine is running. It doesnഡke long for their little brains to make this correlation. The lure of the meal worm is great. This would be like someone holding a piece of dark chocolate for me and saying if I jump through the flaming hoop I will get it. The power of the chocolate is much greater than the threat of being burned. I would jump, and so it is with the chicks--they stay by the trike.

918 was one of the easier chicks to work with. After the initial engine start, lots of meal worms, even some revving of the engine, we got him to follow for two circuits. I like to keep the first training session short. This way, we leave the circle pen with the chick happily trilling and actually looking for more meal worms.

Yesterday, 919 had his turn for the first time and was as easy. I had taken him to the trike for his introduction on Monday919 meets trike and when I turned on the vocalizer, which is much louder than the pocket ones we carry, he walked right up to it looking for ᭡.ͯst of the other chicks shy away a bit at the loudness, but not this guy. I knew at that moment, that it would be an easy session the next day and he wouldnॶen flinch when the engine started.

Luckily, that was true and we got him to follow very shortly after starting the engine. He seemed to like it so much that he calmly walked around pecking at meal worms and gravel and even trilling occasionally. He will be a great follower in the air. This is true. We can always tell the chicks that will be the best followers by how they react that very first time.

If we push things too fast with a chick, or misread them, or heaven forbid, run out of meal worms, it can turn into a real battle trying to get them used to the engine. Last year for example, we ran out of meal worms while training 830, and it ended up taking a whole week to get her over the trauma of that first session. It was a mistake we will never make again.

For the rest of this week, it will be 922, 23, 24 and 25 that get their 鲳ts.诰efully, it will be as memorable for them as it always is for us. with any luck they too will all be great followers in the air, making the pilotsꯢ just a little bit easier.

Date: June 2, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:WOOD BUFFALO NESTINGLocation:Main Office

Brian Johns is with Canadian Wildlife Service and is the co-chair of the Whooping Crane Recovery Team. Recently, Brian sent an update, reporting on the nesting activity at Wood Buffalo National Park in Northern Canada.

Brian reported "Lea Craig-Moore and Kathy St. Laurent have completed the breeding pair surveys in Wood Buffalo National Park and surrounding area. Habitat conditions were good, with water levels being higher than normal. The spring season was slightly later than average, and the northern portions of the nesting area still had a number of snow banks and some frozen wetlands.

In total sixty-one nests were discovered, only five fewer than the all time high of sixty-six in 2008. Another twenty-two pairs of cranes were observed, half of which have likely bred in previous years and the remainder were sub-adult pairs. Lea, Tom Stehn and Jim Bredy will be conducting the hatching success surveys in a couple of weeks."

It sounds like a fairly good breeding season - at least at this early stage, considering the recent record losses at the winter site on Aransas NWR.

Date: June 2, 2009Reporter:Joe Duff
Subject:GENETICSLocation:Main Office

In 1966 the first eggs were collected from Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada and hatched in captivity at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. It is still the largest of the five captive breeding facilities for Whooping cranes in North America. At this time of year the flock managers have weekly conference calls with the chair of the Whooping Crane Recover Team to determine the fate of each egg produced by the captive birds.

With only 15 individuals surviving in the early 1940s the entire Whooping crane population, and the hope for future removal from the endangered species list, is built on a very limited genetic foundation. Artificial insemination, egg swapping and natural pairing are methods used to manipulate the genetics to ensure that each flock, either captive or reintroduced, has a complete representation of the material that is available.

When the first eggs were removed from the only surviving flock it was an act of desperation. There were only 44 birds in the world and natural growth was slow and worrisome. The impact to the flock was minimized by collecting only one egg from each nest and only if the remaining egg was viable. It took several years to learn the idiosyncrasies of captive breeding but now these facilities are the treasury of Whooping crane lineage and an insurance policy against the pitfalls faced by the wild flocks.

Keeping the captive population healthy is a priority for the Recovery Team. Each year six or seven birds are held back to eventually become breeders. With the loss of three captive adults this spring the number of holdback cranes could be as many as 10. That decision may reduce the number of birds that we are able teach to migrate this fall but if the job is to protect the species from extinction you must look at the bigger picture.

Date: June 1, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter:Trish Gallagher
Subject:MY DAY WITH 919Location:Laurel, MD

On Friday, I spent a good part of the day with 919. When I got in that morning, I was told he had forgotten everything he learned Thursday, and it was my project to teach him how to drink again. Sometimes this happens ᦴer all, he௮ly 3 days old and heࢥen asleep all night. All night is a very long time if you堯nly 3 days old.

Now 919 is one of my favorites (about half the chicks are) but he is a big crybaby. Every time you leave his pen, he peeps his fool head off, as if to say, 襲e are you going? Come back here! I thought you were supposed to be my surrogate mom!㯭etimes it೯ loud you can hear it from the next room. If someone is walking by in the aisle and 919 hears the footsteps, the cries get louder. ﮒt leave me alone! Stop in for a visit!稥n you walk inside the door of his pen, the happy trills start, ﵠcame back! I೯ happy to see you! Come sit for a while!ﰾ

919 was a good eater when I left Thursday. He has a crane puppet head sticking into his food bowl to remind him to eat. The puppet is suspended from the ceiling of the pen by a string so the handler can stand outside and move the puppet by tugging the string. We start to do this when the chicks are a few days old so they learn to eat by themselves as quickly as possible. By Thursday afternoon, I could stand outside 919థn and move the puppet and in between his cries, he would take bites of food. I had to go inside the pen to get him to drink, but I could coax him to drink from his jug. Not so Friday morning.

I brought a bowl of water into the pen. We prefer to teach chicks to drink out of their water jugs, but he was dehydrated and t was important to get him drinking first, and then transition to the water jug. During my half hour in his pen, I showed him the water in the bowl by moving the puppet in and out of the water. He looked, but was too happy to bother with drinking. He stepped through the water several times as he ran around the pen trilling with happiness. Then he started pecking at the bill of the puppet. He pecked and pecked but just couldn೥em to get water in his mouth and swallow. You can tell when they actually swallow because they lift their heads up high and you can watch them. He even dunked his whole head in the water a few times and got his neck wet, but no swallows until we had been doing this for about 25 minutes and then, at last, success! He got about six good sips, so the first part of my task had been accomplished 頦elt confident that he now remembered water.

I gave him a rest for about half an hour and then went back in for round two. This time he drank more quickly and was eating like a champ. He was also playing king of the mountain, standing on top of the food and trilling away while he pecked at his food. The next round was carried out by Brian Clauss, a ﵧh love멮d of handler, who insists that chicks drink out of their jugs. Brian noted 919ࣲybaby tendencies, but also that the chick was coaxed to drink from the jug.

After lunch, it was time for another round. This time I raised the water jug to the same level as the food bowl so he wouldnਡve to lean down to drink. He liked this a lot and all at once he was drinking on his own! After several sips of water, he stood in his pen trilling happily and all at once, stood up as tall as he could, stretched out his wings all the way and did a little dance. This kind of happiness is contagious. No wonder he௮e of my favorites.

Date: June 1, 2009Reporter:Bev Paulan
Subject:IT TAKES A VILLAGELocation:Laurel, MD

This week was the second busiest so far this season. Eight of the eleven eggs projected to hatch, did. We welcomed 918, 919, 920, 921, 922, 923, 924 and 925. Unfortunately, 917 was euthanized due to blindness and 921 died after a valiant struggle to stay alive.

921 hatched on Wednesday, but was premature. He had pipped and was partially emerged from his shell, at least his beak and wing were, but he hadnࡢsorbed his yolk sac yet. Dr. Glenn Olsen rigged up a little case for the egg to keep the chick and the moisture in, trying to give the little creature more time to develop. Unfortunately he wanted out and hatched later that day. His little body just wasn঵lly developed, including his stomach. He couldnॡt, and regurgitated any tube food he was given. In spite of constant attention from the crew, administering smaller portions of tube food more often in hopes of him keeping it down, and getting fluids, he just finally gave out Friday night. Just another plummet on the roller coaster that is this job.

Even with the loss of 921, seven chicks are a lot to feed and thank goodness for the crew we have. Not only are there the eight full-time Patuxent crew members, but there are five of us from OM, one summer intern for Patuxent, and best of all, a whole parcel of volunteers. These chicks have to be fed hourly and just when you think one is learning to eat and drink, when you come in the next morning it seems he has amnesia and you have to start all over again with him.

The process of teaching a chick to eat starts while the chick is still in his individual incubator. We take a bowl of crumbled food, a bowl of water and the ever present vocalize with us. We sit down in from of the unit, open the door and reach in for the puppet we let the chick brood with. This puppet has a small piece of red tape on the tip of its beak. This little bit of color helps the chick focus on the puppet, following it to the food bowl. We dip the beak in the water, then into the crumbles then hold it up in front of the chick. Hopefully the chick has the ability to focus and opens his beak and we stick the puppet beak in, hoping that more crumble ends up in his mouth than on the carpet in the incubator.

This sounds easy, but when the chick is young enough, less than 24 hours old, he is usually not able to hold his head up and it ends up being more like the old carnival game of trying to hit a spinning balloon with a dart. Remember, we are doing this in full costume with a darkened visor, looking into a dark incubator. Thank goodness 24 hours is merely a blink of time and soon the chick can hold his head up and follow the puppet. The next step is putting the puppet beak in the bowl and hoping that as the chick pecks at it, he gets some food. We do the same thing with the water, first allowing the chick to sip drops of water from the bill, then trying to guide him to the bowl.

If the chick is still in his incubator when he is getting close to 48 hours old, he wants out. No ifs, ands or buts, the little fella wants more space to roam. Even though his roaming is more a serpentine stagger, he wants to roam. When he is roaming and we are trying to feed him, his travels take him into his food bowl and for a swim in his water bowl and sometimes right out the door. Either way, we gently scoop him up and place him back where he should be, sometimes wet and covered in crumbles (can you see me grinning).

Once in his pen where there is really room to roam, its more like a game of chase, trying to get the chick to follow the puppet to the bowl. Some chicks pick this up quickly, eating on their own within three days, and others, we need to work with for up to five days.

And as I said earlier, thank goodness for the crew we have because every bird eventually does learn to eat and every bird always grows up way too fast.

Date: May 30, 2009Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:FOUR WHOOPERS AT ARANSAS NWRLocation:Main Office

Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas reported that experienced staff spotted four Whooping cranes during the afternoon of Thursday, May 28. The sighting took place at Aransas along the Intracoastal Canal that runs through the refuge.

set of birds were grouped as a duo, and about 5 miles away, there were two singles separated by ~100 yards. I presume all four are sub-adults,㴥hn said.

Noting that the last aerial survey took place April 21st, Tom said, ෩ll probably not do another census until July to see whether these four Whoopers decide to spend the summer and if any others are still around.䨥se four cranes could still migrate, but they also could spend the summer at Aransas,襠added.

Date:May 29, 2009Reporter:Bev Paulan
Subject:ALL IN A DAY'S WORKLocation:Laurel, MD

Yesterday was another day of non-stop smiling. I find I just canਥlp myself--the daily antics never cease to amuse.

My day started with the typical cleaning which involves locking the birds outside. When we finished with that, we opened the doors, then turned around and locked everyone in so we could clean their footbaths. This involves, dumping the footbaths, spritzing them with cleaner, rinsing, then refilling them in the pens. After we finish this, and we are never dry at the end, we let the birds back into their runs.

While we are doing this, training is going on, usually done by Brooke and twice a week by me. The juggling of training and cleaning is just the beginning. The biggest challenge of the day is when we start trying to socialize the birds. This is where the smiling starts.

This morning we took 905, 906, 907, 908, 910 and 911 for a little socialization period. Erin Harris, one of our very qualified interns for this year, Barb 詣k Mama㬡uss and I each took two birds out of their runs and met in the large field behind the propagation building. We were then to walk all six birds around the field, around the circle pen, then into the White series pens. These pens are the pre-release pens where the birds will eventually stay overnight just prior to shipment to Necedah.

I had to get 905 and 906 out of their pens and was to meet Erin and Barb with their charges in the field behind the prop building. 906 did not want to come through the gate. I was already through the gate with 905 and all the other birds were backtracking to come see what I was doing, waiting expectantly, while 906 paced at the gate. He would not come through. No matter how enticing, nothing I did would get him to cross this threatening threshold. I walked up to him, placed the robo-crane puppet under his nose and inch by inch, slowly, got him to cross the gate. Once across, and when we finally started walking, all hell broke loose.

Chicks were running everywhere, bumping into each other, running enthusiastic zig-zag patterns, jumping, leaping; completely helter-skelter and I couldnਥlp but laugh. There is nothing quite like watching two chicks running into each other, falling down, getting up, shaking off then leaping up with stubby wings flapping and legs pumping to get you smiling. Now imagine a half hour of this and you just start to get the idea of my morning.

We stayed in the White series pens for the better part of a half an hour letting the birds be birds; letting them interact. What we discovered was this: 911 is the crybaby of the group. He did nothing but cry, read: peep loudly, for the entire time; 905 cares about nothing other than catching and eating worms; 907 always lags behind and then to catch up, sticks out his little stubby wings and runs as fast as he can; 906 is, always has been, and probably always will be a scaredy-cat, he shies at everything and everyone; 910 follows 905 like a shadow; and 908 runs as fast as he can, trying to keep up with the older chicks. All of this is more endearing than I can evoke. And not only is this an extremely important part of the socialization process, allowing for supervised interactions, but luckily the most fun as well. And, oh darn, we have to do it every day.

Date:May 28, 2009Reporter:Joe Duff
Subject:OVER-POPULATION?Location:Main Office

The problem with web postings is that you can೥e the confused look on the readerডce when something you have written is not clear. It happens to me so often when I talk that I should automatically assume it also happens when I write. After my posting on forcing the cohort size and grouping together a large number of birds that are normally more reclusive, one of our supporters sent the following query.

Isn't that one relatively critical flaw in the entire program - the concentration and grouping of the cranes?頡ssume that whooping cranes were never in the numbers that sandhill cranes are, and that they tended toﲭ territories鴨in an immediate family group.�t species, when they sense overpopulation for their species, tend to not successfully propagate.穴h all the adult whooping cranes in the refuge, isn't this the likely reason for nesting failures?稥ther the specific remedy is more time needed to forage for food, or more time needed to protect a territory, or the birds just feel more threatened, the overall cause is overpopulation? --Kent

You are correct Kent. Whooping cranes never numbered in the hundreds of thousands like Sandhill cranes and they do form territories, although not necessarily within family groups. They don৥nerally pair bond until age 3 or 4 and usually mate successfully at age 5. By then they no longer have ties to their parents, in fact that ends after the first season. During those adolescent years they will often associate with other sub-adults in what are called bachelor cohorts. Itயt until they become sexually mature that they really get interested in establishing a territory and it is generally somewhere near the natal area where they hatched.

As you pointed out there can be devastating consequences to over-population but that crowding is generally a result of too little habitat. That is not the case at Necedah. The refuge covers 44,000 acres with a large portion of wetland. The entire area sits on an ancient 1800 square-mile glacial lake bed made up of cranberry bogs and protected marsh so there is lots of Whooping crane habitat. In fact thatനe primary reason it was selected by the Recovery Team.

Whooping cranes take turns incubating their eggs. One protects the nest while the other forages so time spent looking for food is not the issue. Intrusion by other birds isnࡠproblem either. The partner not occupying the nest will chase off the occasional interloper but it isn଩ke they are under constant attack. The owners of neighboring territories donਡve to patrol their borders and guard duty is usually nothing more than an opportunity for the pair to unison call.

The results of the extensive nesting studies conducted this spring have yet to be analyzed so it is premature to speculate but its looking like Black flies are the problem. Nest abandonment seems to coincide with warm weather that brings on clouds of black flies but apart from that errant behaviour our birds are performing admirably. The costumes, the puppets, the recorded brood call and the imprint models we use at Patuxent seems to have ensured that they know they are Whooping cranes. That means that when it is time to mate they are attracted to other Whooping cranes and not sandhills or even humans.

After selecting a conspecific mate they seem to be appropriately defending a territory and properly building their nest in good habitat. The eggs they lay appear to be healthy with the proper shell thickness and they share their nest duties. Most seem dedicated to the job of incubation at least until the Black flies hit.

It may be that the last Whooping cranes to nest in Wisconsin over 100 years ago didnਡve to contend with this problem. Climate change may have adjusted the Black fly season to coincide with their nesting or maybe it࡬ways been a problem. At any rate the next step is to analyze the data to see if Black flies really are the culprit. Thereafter we must determine if the problem is controllable and decide if we should continue to manage this population on into the future.

Date: May 27, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter:Heather Ray

Many thanks to Richard Urbanek, USFWS and Eva Szyszkoski, Sara Zimorski, and Jess Thompson, International Crane Foundation for the following update:

(Females are indicated by *. DAR = direct autumn release)

Locations are in Wisconsin unless specified otherwise. The WCEP Tracking Team reports that the eastern migratory population stands at 79 Whooping cranes (48 males and 31 females). Distribution included 73 in Wisconsin, one in Lower Michigan, and four with no recent record of location and 1 last recorded in Minnesota.


Three to 4 established pairs re-nested on Necedah NWR between approximately May 13-17. The pairs included 318/313* (re-nest failed May 17); 317/303* and 211/217* whose nests remained active at the end of the report period. The location of a possible re-nest attempt of 408/519* was not determined. A fifth pair; 212 and 419* re-nested on private property north of the Necedah Refuge by May 21. Nos. 403/309* re-nested on the refuge on May 23.

Yearlings and Spring Wandering

Nos. 824* and 827 were detected in flight south of the refuge before landing at an undetermined location on May 4. On May 17 they were detected flying over the refuge and tracked to southwest Juneau County. The landowner indicated that they had been at that location since May 11. They stayed at this location during the remainder of the report period.

Nos. 804, 814, and 818* remained in northwest, Jefferson County, until they returned to the core reintroduction area on May 22. They subsequently departed to an undetermined location on the following day.

Nos. 805, 812, 828, 829, and 830* were detected in flight south of the refuge on May 3 after leaving the central-east area of Dane County. They roosted north of Mauston, Juneau County, that night, and moved to an undetermined location on the following day. They were reported in Dodge County, on May 14, and on Horicon NWR, Dodge County, on May 19. The group returned to Necedah NWR on May 22. After several undirected flights, the group separated. As of May 26, nos. 805 and 812 remained on the refuge; no. 829 was in Marquette County, and nos. 828 and 830* had joined nos. 824* and 827 at their location in southwest Juneau County.

No. 813* remained with sandhills in Marathon County, during the report period. No. 819 was last reported in Steele County, Minnesota, on May 7.

DAR nos. 831, 836, and 838* left Columbia County and returned to Necedah NWR on May 4 before leaving to head to Marquette County, where they remained at least through May 5. They moved to south-central Columbia County by May 7. They returned to Necedah NWR and roosted on East Rynearson Pool on May 19 and then returned to the latter location in Columbia County the following day.

Date:May 27, 2009 Reporter:Bev Paulan
Subject:CRANE-ALITIESLocation:Laurel, MD

I spend a lot of time smiling this time of year. I canਥlp myself. These little chicks are just so darn cute and full of person, er, excuse me, crane-ality, that my face ends up hurting at the end of the day from smiling so much.

For just one example, 903 loves water. He loves water so much, that he is the only chick that makes his ᰰy chick㯵nd, the trill, when he is swimming. We are swimming him twice a day currently, which we will do with some chicks, to help strengthen potentially weak legs. I have never seen a bird love to be put in the pool as much as he does. Every time we pick up a chick, they scream bloody murder, peeping so loudly, it actually hurts the ears.

903 bathing903 is no exception until he sees the pool. We pick up and carry each chick to the pool, and 903 is the only one that actually calms down as we approach the water. As soon as we set him down, he starts to trill. Then he starts to bathe. At least he tries. He dips his head continuously, sometimes even getting his back under water. The first time I saw this, I nearly had a heart attack as his head disappeared under water. This is a regular thing with him, and I actually look forward to getting to swim him every day.

916 gives me another reason to smile. We have great hopes for him and we think he is going to be a great flier. From the first time he was put in his pen, he has ﯭedᲯund the pen with his little wings out, running around in circles. When he was first let outside, the same thing, ﯭ-zoomᮤ now that he is being trained behind the trike, the first time the engine started, we actually got him to go one full lap following the aircraft. The second time, I got him to go 5 laps, never showing any fear. He reminds of us a flying squirrel.

908 has been the speediest of all the chicks since the first time he was let outside. I have never seen a chick go faster or try harder to keep up. He reminds me of a sprinter on the race track. He has the same can-do attitude in the circle pen and nothing keeps him from being right there next to the trike.

914 is so far my favorite and I have to admit, this is more because of how he looks than anything else. He has very fat little legs and is so dark, he reminds me of a little Kodiak bear. He is also the most trusting of all the chicks. When I was swimming a bird and Brooke took 914 for a walk, my heart almost melted. I looked over at the two of them and saw this little tiny fuzz ball, a big whopping 5 days old, following the costume, looking up at the huge white body next to him. He just toddled along, slowly, but never more than a step behind Brooke. It was just another one of the hundreds of moments in my day that brings a smile to my face, and to my heart.

Date: May 26, 2009Reporter:Joe Duff
Subject:HOPING FOR A LITTLE LESS REDLocation:Main Office

Whooping cranes are not colonial birds. The flock-mindset that keeps Sandhill cranes and geese together in large social groups is absent in Whooping cranes. They tend to spend their time alone with their mates, shunning the party life, even rejecting it by staking out a territory and defending it against other Whooping crane intruders.

By raising our birds in larger groups of 6 to 8 individuals and later combining them into a flock of 18 or so, we are forcing the cohort size. I have often visualized the perfect training scenario as assigning a more natural cohort size of two birds to a two-person team of a pilot and handler. We could operate independently and spend our time wandering the marsh at Necedah foraging for natural foods. We could work in shifts spending the night with our two chicks to protect them from predators and teach them to water roost.

With all the extra exercise, they would fledge sooner and rather than waiting for the youngest bird to catch up, we could start the migration whenever our two charges were ready. With only two birds to carry on the wingtip vortices we could fly faster and farther and climbing over the mountains would be a non-event. Unfortunately, it would take nine such teams to handle our annual quota of 18 birds and the burn-out rate among volunteers would be high but it would be an incredible experience for both the birds and the teams.

Back to reality, early socialization is a critical step in the initial training of the birds and as Heather pointed out, it is beginning in earnest at Patuxent as we speak. The team is paying particular attention to aggressive behaviour this year to avoid another number 810 situation. You will remember he was the antagonist from last year who never learned to play nice and eventually caused the loss of four birds from the project including himself.

When we built the new site at Necedah last year we added a few design innovations. We built a feed and tool storage shed next to the dry pen but unlike at the other sites, we incorporated a one-way glass window and door into the Canfield pen. We can hide in this shed and watch for aggression and instantly step in to take sides. One of our first jobs at Necedah this year will be to add observation windows to the other pens.

Just as individual birds have distinct personalities so to do groups of birds. Put together any collection of people; from a bridge club to a motorcycle gang and you will find followers and leaders. It only takes a few like-minded members of the latter category before the entire gathering begins to take on their disposition.

Every cohort we have raised has its own identifiable temperament and it is usually determined by a few individuals that stand out and set the tone. One alpha bird in a flock of followers will not have to assert his authority very often and that group may appear composed and relaxed. But that same aggressor in a group with other antagonists will make them all look like a marauding band of warriors by comparison.

Each bird has its own personality colour. Some are pastel and others are brilliant and they all blend together to form the hue of their cohort. Each time they are grouped into a larger flock as we prepare for our mass migration, their colours combine into a new palette. This year we are hoping for more blue and a little less red.

Date:May 24, 2009Reporter:Bev Paulan
Subject:BUSY WEEK AHEADLocation:Laurel, MD

My head is spinning as I type this. Spinning because of the already long hours we are putting in, and spinning even faster thinking of the even longer hours we will put in this week. Why? you ask. Eleven, count them, eleven chicks are scheduled to hatch this week.

Now I do know better than to count my chicks before they hatch, but you have to admit, that is an intimidating number. Eleven mouths that need to be fed hourly for at least the first two days, usually more likely three days. Eleven little precious creatures, that like us, are over 70% water and need to keep that hydration up, so even more importantly than feeding, we have to make sure they drink. Eleven little angels that we have to make sure go to sleep at night, settling down under their heat lamp, not in some cold corner of their pen.

Already we are working from sun up to sun down, some of us even earlier and later. Our day starts by 6 am, especially as the temperatures go up. These birds are very heat sensitive, so to ensure they all get trained before they get too hot, we have to start as early as we can.

When we have new chicks, we start the feedings at 6 or 6:30 and continue them until 8 or 8:30, at night that is. Each new chick is weighed four times a day to ensure he or she is getting enough food. Actually for the first day and a half, they tend to lose weight, as they metabolize the yolk sac they survived on in the egg. At the same time, we also check hydration, administering fluids if necessary. As Barb Clauss, resident chick mama and team leader for chick rearing reminds us daily, dehydration can kill a chick.

We also make sure there is no food in their eyes or nose (nares to be proper), that they have no fecal matter dried to their vent and that their toes are straight. Easy enough to remedy any of these, but if they are dehydrated, we just have to ﲫനem harder. We call teaching them to eat and drink ﲫing䨥m. Some chicks learn how to eat rapidly, others take awhile. 912 and 913, who are siblings, took at least 4 days before they started eating and drinking to our satisfaction. Now they are robust little birds.

Currently all the chicks are eating and drinking on their own--No one to feed or work on drinking. So it feels like a bit of a break. Everything right now is all about training, socializing and exercise. They are fairly self-sufficient at this point. Last night as we were closing up the buildings, we watched 915 on remote camera as he put himself to bed. He was still motoring around his pen, taking a couple of drinks from his water jug, frustrating Barb and I that he wouldn೥ttle down. And just like the toddler he is, after one last drink, he walked under his brood model and flopped to a lying position. He fought a valiant battle against the sandman, but soon he could no longer keep his eyes open and his head was on the ground. After a couple of nods, he was off to dreamland and we turned out the lights and closed the door, walking off into the quickly darkening night.

And as I walked out the door today, after another busy day of training, swimming and cleaning, Jane was putting up that sign that instills every emotion possible in us: 误ping Crane Hatching Keep Voices Low.ɴ gives us that typical parental fear of 衴 if it isnਥalthy?; warm fuzzies for the cute chick it will be; a tired sigh for the long hours of feeding and fluids and worry; projections into the future of training at Necedah and on migration; a quickly passing feeling that our break is over, and most of all, hope for the future of the Whooping Crane.


Date: May 24, 2009Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:SOCIALIZINGLocation:Main Office

With fifteen chicks on the ground, things at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center are in full swing. Each young chick must be fed every hour, until they are able to feed themselves. Once old enough to venture outside, each begins training with the aircraft at the circle-pen; a circular enclosure with a fence, approximately two feet high, designed so that the tiny chicks can follow from the inside, while the trike taxis the perimeter on the outside.

Each training session lasts roughly 20 minutes, so with fifteen birds, it's easy to understand why it's a relief when the socialization process begins. It is un-natural for crane chicks to mingle at this young age. In the wild, a clutch usually consists of two eggs with one hatching out a day or two before the second egg. With only so much food to go around they often have to fight for the food presented to them by their parents and one chick, usually the older, often kills the younger sibling. It's a trait that is genetically inherent.

The chicks destined for this reintroduction must learn from a young age to get along with its peers so the introductions take place early and under supervision. Bev reports that the first cohort has been determined--on paper at least.

A cohort is comprised of birds that are close in age, and usually begins by introducing two chicks and observing their interactions during a training session. If all goes well during a couple of meetings, then a third youngster is added, and so on. Bev says that numbers 901, 903 & 904 are all getting along as well as can be expected at this age. Further, numbers 905, 906, 907 & 908 are training together, and 910 & 911 have begun training together this week. These three groups, totaling nine chicks will eventually be combined as Cohort One, and will be shipped to the Necedah NWR in late June.

Bev also reports that in addition to the fifteen they're currently training, another 11 eggs are scheduled to hatch this week.

Date:May 23, 2009Reporter:Joe Duff
Subject:TIME OFFLocation:Main Office

It may not take you long to notice a familiar name missing from the Field Journal over the next few weeks but please donવmp to conclusions.

Liz Condie has been our web editor and responsible for the majority of the postings for several years now. The job places a heavy burden on her shoulders and it is something akin to having a monkey on your back. Whether grinding through the annual budget, editing our INformation magazine or organizing a fundraiser; the website, just like our birds, must be fed daily. is the connection between us and our supporters and Craniacs in general. It is the only conduit that brings the people to a project that takes place in isolation and strives to be removed from all things human.

I堡lways felt that being the web editor for Operation Migration was like being a dairy farmer; no matter what, the cows have to be milked twice a day.

With lots of cajoling, threatening screaming and general bullying we堭anaged to coax updates from the reluctant crew, however, that only amounts to about half the content. I should note an exception to that statement and thank Beverly Paulan who has done a tremendous job lately of bringing you an up-close look at winter monitoring and spring training. I say this sheepishly because you have not seen my name on the Field Journal for some time but that is about to change.

Liz is taking some much needed time off. In fact it will be her first real break she has had since beginning at OM some four years ago.

Itயt that we are slave drivers but it is hard to believe how much work is generated by this small organization. Liz, Chris and Heather cover financial reporting, grant writing, media relations and keeping up with social media trends such as Facebook and Twitter and the new-to-us technology involved in web cameras. All of this piles up on top of administrative responsibilities until 8 hour days are simply not long enough. If the web postings came with a time stamp you could see that most are written at 4am so the rest of the day can be spent on other work. Iࡠlate-nighter and will often send off a task for review at 3am. Before I have a chance to log-off it bongs back from Liz or Heather and I know that they are beginning their day as I finish mine.

I am not complaining but trying giving credit to Liz, Chris and Heather who put long hours of work into keeping OM afloat. Itനe kind of dedication that is required to run a non-profit but if you are not careful you pay the cost of that commitment in exhaustion.

Liz is spending the next week trying to get far enough ahead to take two weeks off. In the interim we took away the keys to the website so you wonࢥ seeing her name up there for a while. This is intended to lighten her burden but I have a funny feeling sheࣨecking this right now.

Date: May 22, 2009Reporter:Joe Duff
Subject:RE-NESTINGLocation:Main Office

Beth Kienbaum from the Wisconsin DNR reported today that 212 and 419 are re-nesting off the Necedah refuge. DNR volunteer Perri Liebl has been monitoring the nest which is 50 meters west of their previous nest which failed last month.

This second nest is again surrounded by water and Perri witnessed a nest incubation exchange by the pair at 2:20 pm on May 21st. The eggs from the first nest were unfortunately infertile, but we are hopeful for success the second time around. Nest monitoring will continue with Perri visiting the nest site each Thursday-Friday and other folks as coordinated with Rich King at Necedah NWR and other Partners.

Date:May 21, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:CHICK PICSLocation: Main Office
Bev has sent along some photos of the younger chicks. On average, growing at a rate of an inch a day, none of the chicks in the Class of 2009 will look like this for long.

Dr. Glen Olsen checks all the chicks regularly and reports that currently there are no serious health problems, just the usual toe taping.

In the photo to the left, costumed Intern Trish Gallagher, tends to 915 in its incubator.

Top Left
915 looking robust and perky.

Center Left
Sporting its pink ID band, 913 explores its inside pen.

Bottom Left
Curious little 912 almost looks quizzical as it checks out its surroundings.

Above Right
Brooke gives 907 a break from its circle pen training and dispenses some mealworm treats using 'robo-crane'.

Date:May 21, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter:      Liz Condie
Subject: Chick 姧 Status Location:Main Office

Hereനe scoreboard for the seasonࣨicks and eggs as of May 20th.




U.S.G.S. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, Maryland



Species Survival Center, New Orleans, Louisiana



Calgary Zoo, Calgary, Alberta



International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, Wisconsin



San Antonio Zoo, San Antonio, Texas












- Own eggs

- Others姧s
























San Antonio










A 䥣ision to be made re shipping PWRC eggs to ICF for DAR by end of May.
B 姧 being shipped to ICF May 27th
C 峴imated 2 eggs being shipped to ICF ~ June 3rd


Date:May 21, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter:   Liz Condie
Subject:WCEP TEAM AT WORKLocation: Main Office
The following numbers summary was given on this week's Bird Team conference call. Of the total 79 birds in the population: There are 24 are adult and 17 sub-adults pairs. Four females and 15 males are unpaired.

The Bird Team discussed the situation of several yearling birds that have been exhibiting less than 'wild behavior' by choosing to frequent inappropriate locations, dangerous to them and humans. The Tracking Team reported that the Swamp Monster is no longer effective at hazing them. They simply fly off a short distance only to return. 710 seems to be the most corrupted and the ringleader of the quartet which includes 709, 717, and 722.

Several different management techniques to resolve the situation are being considered. These range from hazing the birds with the laser avian dissuader to re-situating 710 in another location. The Tracking Team believes they will have more success hazing the rest of the group away from inappropriate locations without 710's presence.

Re-Nesting: Two pairs, one of which is the sibling pair 317 & 303*, have re-nested and are incubating. It is possible that there are two other pairs re-nesting. An aerial survey being conducted this week may be able to confirm this fact.

Date:May 20, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter:   Liz Condie
Subject:ANOTHER ARRIVALLocation: Main Office
916 hatched out yesterday morning, boosting the number of chicks destined for the ultralight-led program. Bev advised that Dwight Knapik from the Calgary Zoo is expected to arrive at Patuxent today with four more eggs from their propagation center.

These four eggs are among as many as seven others (from Patuxent) with hatch dates falling within the next week. That means a potential 11 new chicks could arrive on the scene within the span of roughly seven days. With the 15 chicks the crew is already tending to and training, they will more than have their hands full very shortly.

Remember, there are genetic holdbacks planned so not all birds will be a part of the ultralight Class of 2009. Already designated as a holdback is 909, the chick from an egg produced by the sibling pair 317 & 303* that was collected at Necedah.

Unfortunately, the San Antonio Zoo egg expected at Patuxent became non-viable prior to its May 19 ship date. One egg from the Species Survival Center in New Orleans is still slated for delivery May 27th, and Calgary could have as many as three more eggs which may be designated for the DAR program.

Date:May 20, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Hard on the heels of his last report, (see Entry 1 for May 15) Florida Fish and Conservation Commission biologist, Marty Folk, discovered a re-nest. He said the pair who had the second nest in Lake County had re-nested and had laid an egg.

Unfortunately Florida's two active nests failed this past weekend. 鳩ts to the abandoned nests revealed no eggs or remains͡rty said. ᴥr levels had declined such that it would have been possible for mammalian predators to approach the nests without getting their feet wet. Normally the birds abandon at this point, so the nest failures were predictable.Ⲿ
Folk added, 襠Polk County nest was in a large lake that was not immune to the drying effects of this drought. We still could see a nesting (our latest laying date is 27 May) but not likely from the 2 pairs that just failed.Ⲿ
There is good news however. The chick in Osceola County is now 60 days old.

In his update, Marty advised that the South Florida Water Management District had recently reported that the period from November 2008 through April 2009 ranked as the driest six-month period in South Florida history based on records dating back to 1932. 襠trouble is, he said, 堢egan this drought back in 2006 and had already accumulated a large deficit prior to November last year.Ⲿ
There is some weather relief however. 詳 week a stalled front is bringing rain to Florida! We've had 3.2 inches of rain at my house this week (it seems like the Great Flood), and some areas have gotten more. It is a case of too little too late for this breeding season, but is a start for rehydrating the thirsty landscape.ﴤ>

Date:May 18, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Brian Johns, Wildlife Biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service and co-chair of the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team emailed to advise that the cranes in the western population cranes are in the process of completing their migration to Wood Buffalo National Park.

Brian said, "There have been fewer sightings in Canada this spring compared to other years, which may mean that the birds have had good migration conditions and have moved on through, or, that there are still a few birds to come." He noted that habitat conditions on the breeding grounds appear to be near normal and surveys will begin before the end of May.

With the poor conditions at Aransas this winter and the mortalities the flock suffered, we are anxious for the results of the population survey to see how the birds fared on their migration back north.

Date:May 18, 2009 Reporter:Liz Condie
American Bird Conservancy Press Release

Expert witnesses testified at a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing [May 13]in favor of legislation to significantly advance bird conservation in the United States. The Joint Ventures for Bird Habitat Conservation Act of 2009, sponsored by Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD), would formally authorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serviceʯint Ventures Program, which has been effectively carrying out bird conservation planning and projects since 1987.

﩮t Ventures are a proven success and have made a huge difference for bird conservation,㡩d Dr. David Pashley, American Bird Conservancy֩ce President for Conservation Programs. 頡pplying science and bringing people together, Joint Ventures across the U.S. have created a model for solving wildlife management problems and restoring habitats critical to conserving declining species.ﰾ

Joint ventures are regional partnerships involving federal, state, and local government agencies, corporations, tribes, individuals, and conservation organizations which advance conservation efforts and help identify local land use priorities. There are currently 21 JVs in the United States that provide coordination for conservation planning, and implementing projects to benefit birds and other species.

JVs develop science-based goals and strategies, and a non-regulatory approach for achieving conservation. Nationally, Joint Ventures have directed $4.5 billion in conservation spending from Federal grants and programs, state conservation dollars, and private donations and have protected, restored, or enhanced more than 13 million acres of important habitat for migratory bird species.

泬 which were initially focused exclusively on waterfowl conservation, have broadened their scope and partnerships to advance integrated conservation for all species of birds,㡩d Pashley.

Two other bills were also under consideration at the hearing: H.R. 1916, offered by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), proposes to raise the price of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, popularly known as the 士 Stamp䯠provide increased funding for habitat acquisition and conservation. H.R. 2062, offered by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), proposes to boost enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by increasing the penalties for intentionally killing protected bird species.

�ican Bird Conservancy strongly endorses these measures to protect and conserve bird populations,㡩d Darin Schroeder, Vice President of Conservation Advocacy for American Bird Conservancy. 㠩ndicated by the recent U.S. State of the Birds report, more than two hundred species of birds in the United States are in decline. Passing these bills will help us meet the challenges of reversing this trend.ﴤ>

Date:May 17, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:VIDEO OF CIRCLE PEN TRAININGLocation: Main Office
In case you didn't notice in an earlier posting, there is a video clip of 901 available for viewing. When we stopped off in Patuxent to visit with Bev, Brooke, and the Patuxent chick rearing team on the way back north from Florida, Joe took the opportunity to do some filming of the Class of 2009.

In the video, you'll see Brooke, armed with 'robo-crane' leading 901 from its outside pen at the propagation building to the circle pen. It's neat to see how the little guy is focused on the head of the puppet as he follows along. After leading the chick into the circle, Brooke closes the gate and starts the training trike. The chick gives a start at the engine racket, but then immediately goes back to pecking for those yummy mealworms. You will see that as soon as 901 starts to lose focus, the puppet drops more mealworms and the chick's attention is regained immediately.

This was 901's second time in the circle pen. Its first trip was with Bev and it must have been a good experience as little 901 did very well second time out.

They say, "a picture is worth a 1000 words," so to save this entry from getting any longer, why not click the link and view the video clip.

Date:May 17, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:IN THE NEWSLocation: Main Office
If you've finished your weekend newspaper(s) and would still like something more to read, you might try visiting one or more of the following websites for recent stories that appeared related to Whooping cranes.

Human use of river water is killing whooping cranes

Ventisquero and Operation Migration: A New Partnership Takes Wing

Major Research Gives New Insights Into the Needs of Whooping Cranes

Date:May 16, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:OM AT THE SMITHSONIANLocation: Main Office
Directors, staff, and supporters took advantage of being in Washington, DC recently for the Department of the Interior's Partners In Conservation Award to visit the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center where one of OM's ultralights is on permanent display.

Nestled as it is under the nose of Air France's Concorde, (the first supersonic airliner to enter service and which flew across the Atlantic at twice the speed of sound) OM's lowly trike is quite a study in contrast. On view along with our ultralight is a glass enclosure displaying a costume and other gear used to work with Whooping cranes, as well as a panel mural with information on trikes and their use on the project.

The Udvar-Hazy Center is the companion facility to the National Air and Space Museum building located on the National Mall and provides enough space for the Smithsonian to display the thousands of aviation and space artifacts that cannot be exhibited on there. The two sites together showcase the world's largest collection of aviation and space artifacts. The building on the Mall is large enough to exhibit only 10 percent of the Smithsonian's aviation and space collection. The Udvar-Hazy Center houses an additional 80 percent of the Smithsonian's collection.

The National Air and Space Museum is the most visited museum in the world with an average annual attendance of more than 11 million people. If only one percent (110,000) of each year's visitors take notice our aircraft and exhibit - imagine the awareness raised!!...the outreach!!


OM's trike makes its home under the nose of the supersonic Concorde. In the photo L - R are:
Joe Duff, OM CEO who donated the ultralight aircraft. Russell Lee, Curator of the Aeronautics Division at the museum who was on hand to help us officially 'launch' the exhibit. Deke Clark, retired OM pilot. John Christian, Asst. Dir Region 3 USF&WS Migratory Birds and State Programs and Past Chair of WCEP's Project Direction Team.

Protocol costume, headgear, and other bird handling and flying paraphernalia on exhibit. Mural displays photos / descriptions of use of ultralights on the Whooping crane project

Date:May 16 , 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:CHICK NEWSLocation: Main Office
We have two new arrivals at Patuxent. Bev advised early this morning that 914 and 915 had hatched out. 914 is from an ICF egg, and 915 is from a pair in Patuxent's captive flock.

The chick rearing team will be kept hopping as there will soon be more shipments of eggs to Patuxent's facility in Laurel, MD. According to Recovery Team co-chair, Tom Stehn, one egg will be shipped from the San Antonio Zoo on May 19. The following day Alberta's Calgary Zoo will send 4 more eggs, which would bring the potential total of Calgary chicks in the Class of 2009 to 7.

The Species Survival Center in New Orleans is expected to send another egg May 27th. There may also be a further shipment of as many as three eggs from the Calgary Zoo around June 2nd. These may be designated for the DAR program however, and sent to ICF in Wisconsin.


'Calgarian' 911 who hatched out on May 11 makes its modeling debut.

903, now 12 days old, gets some swimming exercise under the watchful eye of 'lifeguard' Barb Clauss.

Date:May 16, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: Kohlers named 2009 Lindbergh Award recipients Location: Main Office
Terry and Mary Kohler, owners of Windway Capital Corp, and longtime supporters OM and the Whooping crane reintroduction project, will be presented with the 2009 Lindbergh Award in a ceremony being held this evening at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, WI.

The Kohlers were selected to receive the Lindbergh Award for their lifelong dedication to conservation and their extraordinary work using their airplanes on a variety of conservation missions.

Terry is president and CEO of Windway Capital Corp. Mary is vice president of Windway Foundation. Windway Capital Corp, the parent company of North Sails which makes high-tech racing sails including those used by Americaõp winners, is the company that manufactured and donated the wing covers for OM's ultralights.

Mary and Terry have been involved for over a decade with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the Trumpeter Swan Recovery Project, collecting and flying swan eggs back from Alaska. In past years, they flew Whooping crane eggs from Ft. Smith, NWT, Canada, to Baraboo, WI, and Patuxent, MD for the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team.

More recently, Windway has supported the Whooping crane reintroduction project by annually (for many years) providing its aircraft and pilots to transport cohorts of juveniles from Maryland to Wisconsin.

OM's Board and staff send their congratulations to Terry and Mary, two committed conservationists. They are, and have been great friends and supporters of Operation Migration and the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, and dedicated champions for Whooping cranes.

Date:May 15, 2009 - Entry 4Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:IMBD AT DISNEY A HUGE SUCCESSLocation: Main Office
For the fourth consecutive year, Disney's Animal Kingdom hosted Operation Migration for International Migratory Bird Day (May 9). We set up a trike and our display booth in front of Rafiki's Planet Watch at Conservation Station, and spent the day chatting with the many folks - of all ages - who stopped by. Some were attracted by the trike, some by the spectacular photos, and the very young were drawn in by the display of sample crane foods ଡstic bugs, worms, crabs, snakes, etc.

From park opening until close, visitors kept Joe, Walter Sturgeon, and I hopping. It was definitely our busiest year ever. In fact it was so busy, that at times Disneyӣott Tidmus and Alex McMichael were pressed into service. Both Scott and Alex always go out of their way to ensure our visit is both enjoyable and successful. They do a terrific job and we can't thank them enough.

As in other years, we met people not just from across America, but also from around the world. It was very rewarding to talk to folks from England, from Switzerland, and even China, who were familiar with OM and the Whooping crane project. What was exciting for us too, was to have several visitors tell us that they࣯me to Animal Kingdom that day because they knew we͊ be there!!

It was a gorgeous, sunny, Florida postcard day, and a super-duper day of outreach. We are so fortunate to have Disneynimal Kingdom as a project partner, and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) as a sponsor. DWCF has the distinction of being the only sponsor/funder that has supported Operation Migration and the Whooping crane reintroduction since the project੮ception.

This year we had a very special and world famous visitor drop by our display. We஥ver met him before and we were thrilled when he agreed to pose with us for a souvenir photo.



Left to Right: Kim Sams, Director, Worldwide Conservation Programs; Scott Tidmus, Zoological Manager, Disney's Animal Kingdom; Liz Condie, Mickey Mouse, Joe Duff, Walter Sturgeon.

Date:May 15, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Bev Paulan
Subject:A DOZEN IS A HANDFUL (see video)Location: Laurel, MD
There never seems to be enough hours in the day to get done what needs to be done. Now that we have 12 chicks, yes, that࡮ even dozen, we are getting very busy.

912 hatched yesterday morning and 913 hatched late last evening, assisted by Brian Clauss and Dr. Glenn Olsen. It seems 913 ran out of gas three-quarters of the way through breaking out of its shell. It got a wing out and his beak, but needed a helping hand to get the rest of the way.

The oldest birds, 901 thru 908 are all getting trike-trained and swum. Each training session lasts approximately 15 minutes per bird, and each bird then gets swum for 20 minutes. Sometime during the day, too, each bird needs to be walked. And this is just the beginning.

We are now starting to socialize the birds. This is by far our most difficult task, and one in which we take great care. We canࡦford to make a mistake when we first introduce the birds, or we could turn a slightly aggressive bird into a beast, and a slightly timid bird into a very afraid bird.

So far, so good with the socializing. We introduced 901 and 903, with 901 being aggressive towards the younger chick. To preclude 903 from becoming a little chicken, we have paired him with 904 with very good results. These two chicks get along very well, almost to the point of ignoring one another.

We took 907 and 908 out for their introductory walk this morning. 907 was actually the one more afraid and unfortunately wasn౵iet about it. Every time 908 would walk by, even though he seemingly cared less about 907, 907 would peep his head off, thus encouraging 908 to look. Luckily 908 was much more interested in walking and following the costume, so a mere glance was all he gave 907.

Trike-training is going extremely well. We have only had 2 birds that have been slightly reluctant. 906 was very hesitant at first, and even after his third session of engine revving, still wonযllow. 907 is doing a little bit better and we got him to follow one lap around the circle pen this morning. 908 had his first session with the trike today, and although he jumped when the engine started, soon he was eating meal worms and trilling like a happy chick.

910 was let outside for the first time this morning. We have a fairly elaborate set of criteria for this momentous occasion. The chick needs to be a minimum of 3 days old, eating and drinking on its own, and gaining weight. The grass in its pen also needs to be dry, and the temperature must be warm enough for the chick. At this young age they cannot thermo-regulate, so we need to ensure a warm environment.

Today met all the criteria and 910 was shown the way in and out of the door to his run. We need to do this as well, because young chicks have been known to get ﳴﵴside, unable to find their way back in to food and their heat lamp.

Note: On the way back from International Migratory Bird Day at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Joe and I (Liz) stopped off in Patuxent to visit with Bev, Brooke, the Patuxent chick rearing team, and to meet two of our 2009 interns, Patricia Gallagher and Geoffrey Tarbox. While there, Joe took advantage of the opportunity to film circle pen training. Click here to view the video clip.

Date:May 15, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
The handsome Partners In Conservation Award presented to Operation Migration by Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar on May 7th, now has a place of honor in OM's small Port Perry, ON office.

The Partners in Conservation Award, the highest civilian partnership award given by the Department of the Interior, was established to recognize cooperative conservation achievements, and to recognize outstanding conservation results  produced primarily because of the engagement and contributions of many partners.

Held at the Department of the Interior building in Washington, DC, the ceremony kicked off with attendees joining in singing America the Beautiful - a most apt musical choice given the conservation bent of those present. Following the Presentation of Colors by an honor guard consisting of members from the United States Park Service, Secretary Salazar gave his keynote address. He delighted OM'ers with a special mention of our work with Whooping cranes, and an acknowledgement of the international nature of our organization.

In his Welcome Message, Secretary Salazar said...
"It is my great pleasure to recognize the achievements of more that 600 diverse individuals [from 26 organizations] who partner with others to conserve and restore our treasured landscapes, help wildlife thrive, address water issues, and forge solutions to complex natural resource challenges. These awards represent the dedicated and tireless efforts of people from all walks of life from across our Nation. They share a deep commitment to conservation and community.

Today, we celebrate their accomplishments and as them to join us in a new era of conservation, an era that I hope will rival those of Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. In coming years, we will have many days like today to celebrate successful partnerships rooted in a common purpose for conservation.

Please join with me in congratulating our Partners in Conservation Award winners. Their achievements exemplify excellence in conservation through partnerships and cooperation with others. They are an inspiration to us all, and we are grateful for their efforts."

On accepting the award, Joe Duff acknowledged the many participants in the Whooping crane reintroduction project, particularly mentioning the founding partners: the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team, U.S.G.S. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center & U.S.G.S. National Wildlife Health Center, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, the International Crane Foundation, the Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.

"We share this award with all the project's cooperators and partners," Duff said. "What we have accomplished, we have not done alone. This award exemplifies the Power of Partnership."

Photo taken on the steps of the Department of the Interior building in Washington, DC

Back row L to R: John Christian, Assistant Director Region 3 Migratory Birds and State Programs, Joe Duff, Directors Dale Richter, Bob Rudd, Walter Sturgeon, pilot Brook Pennypacker, and Vickie Henderson OM Board Chair.

Center row L to R: Deke Clark, former OM pilot; Rebecca Pardo, supporter; Karen Richter; Bev Paulan; Diana Duff; Nan Rudd.

Front row L to R: Heather Ray, Liz Condie, Taylor Richter, Alex Duff.

Date:May 15, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Marty Folk of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has sent along his third update of the season.

Highlights from his report include:
- The chick from nest #1 still survives and is 48 days of age as of May 7.
- The eggs collected from nest #2 showed no sign of embryos. This pair produced fertile eggs their previous 3 nest attempts and it is suspected that winter rainfall was insufficient to stimulate copulation or some aspect of egg or sperm production.
- There is a new nest by a pair in Polk County. They are nesting in a lake because all marshes in the area are dry.

Marty said they are continuing intensive daily monitoring in order to document survival and movements.

In his update he also noted they have identified that male whooping cranes aren't living as long as females, and that male whooping cranes are more vulnerable to collisions with power lines than females. He said, "We suspect this may be associated with the males' propensity to lead the flocks and be the defenders of the flocks, and we are collecting behavioral data to help us learn more about this. We also continue to gather data on molt. Every other year, on average, adult Whoopers molt all their flight feathers and are grounded for an average of 44 days while the new feathers grow."

"There is still no sign of relief from the drought and the days with high temps at 90 really bake the landscape," Folk said.

Date:May 14, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:2009 CHICK HATCHESLocation: Main Office
Summary of hatches as of today, May 14.






May 3




May 3


Died May 4th


May 4




May 6




May 6




May 6


Parents: 403 & 309*


May 7




May 8


Parents: 403 & 309*


May 8


From sibling pair 317 & 303*.Chick will be held back.


May 9




May 11




May 14



One of the above chicks could potentially be held back for the captive population, which would leave, as of the moment, 9 chicks for the Ultralight-led program.

Date:May 14, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:CHICK/EGG UPDATELocation: Main Office
Thanks to Tom Stehn, co-chair of the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team for sending along the latest numbers on this season१g/chicks. Eggs are shipped between facilities for the ultralight and DAR releases in the Eastern Migratory Population.

Legend for the chart below is:
PWRC = Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
NNWR = Necedah National Wildlife Refuge
SSCNO = Species Survival Centre New Orleans
CZ = Calgary Zoo
ICF = International Crane Foundation
SAZ = San Antonio Zoo.

As of May 13th, the following was an approximate tally of Whooping crane chicks and viable eggs in captivity. A few more eggs are expected as pairs lay second and third clutches and some late-laying females get going.

Whooping Cranes for the Eastern Migratory Population Reintroduction











PWRC (own eggs)





PWRC (NNWR and other centers' eggs)




























"It is important to note that on average, less than half of all fertile eggs end up as fledged chicks," said Stehn. "Losses occur at every state of development. Some eggs fail to hatch; some chicks have immediate development problems; other chicks get sick. In addition, as many as eight of the genetically more valuable chicks will be held back. The holdbacks will replace losses in the adult captive population, the number one priority set by the Recovery Team for use of chicks produced in captivity." (Probable genetic holdbacks have been excluded from the chart above.)

Date:May 14, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie

With the removal of longtime missing bird, 205 and the juvenile 810 from the population numbers, the maximum size of the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) sits at 79; 48 males and 31 females. 205 was last recorded on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in October of 2007. 810 was last recorded in Alachua County, FL in January of this year.

촨ough mortality of neither bird has been confirmed nor substantiated by additional evidence, these two birds are no longer considered alive in reported population totals,㡩d Dr. Richard Urbanek.

WCEPԲacking Team reported that as of May 2nd, 56 Whooping cranes were in the central Wisconsin core reintroduction area, with three at other Wisconsin locations. The report noted that one of latter 3 birds could possibly be in Michiganհper Peninsula. The location of 5 other Whoopers (at least 2 of which were believed to be somewhere in Michigan̯wer Peninsula) was unknown. ಩ng wandering yearlings include 14 birds outside the core reintroduction area and 1 in Minnesota,岢anek added.

(* = females; D = direct autumn release; NFT = non-functional transmitter.)

Reproduction Summary To May 2nd
By April 21st twelve pairs had initiated incubation. 105 & 501*, 211 & 217*, 213 & 218*, 311 & 312*, 317 & 303*, 403* & 309*, 310 & W601*, 318 & 313*, 401 & 508*, 408 & 519*, and 505 & 514* all nested on the Necedah refuge. 212 & 419* nested in Wood County.

All nests failed on various dates between April 18th and May 3rd, the greatest number failing April 23rd and 24th. 襠first significant emergence of black flies occurred with warming temperatures during the latter period,岢anek said. Some breeding pairs moved off their territories after the nest abandonments. Others remained on or near the Necedah NWR.

Sub-Adult Temporary Pairs
506 & 107*
216 & 716*, 307 & 726*, 316 & D742*, 402 & D746*, 707 & D739*
709 & 717*
710 & 722*

Human Avoidance Problems
Several pairs have been demonstrating chronic and severe lack of human avoidance both on and off the refuge and the Swamp Monster has been put to work almost daily.

Status / Location Undetermined
Locations for 516, 524, D533*, D737*, D744* have not been recently recorded. However, these birds could be among those reported recently in Lower Michigan.

Date:May 11, 2009Reporter: Bev Paulan
Subject:CHICK UPDATELocation: Laurel, MD

The days whip by at the speed of light. They go so fast, I feel I donਡve time to breathe. I want to slow time, to be able to thoroughly and fully enjoy the time with each chick. They have hatched out in such rapid succession, it is hard to keep track of how many we actually have. It has only been 8 days, but we already have ten mouths to feed - and keep feeding.

The youngest, 911, hatched this morning; is still in an incubator and luckily, eating like a horse. This is a very good sign--We need a good eater. Today we spent all day just going in a circle feeding and watering, watering and feeding. 907 and 908 were eating all right, but not drinking enough. 909, who is being held back as a research bird, was not eating or drinking and 910 would eat, but only from the puppet. We would have to go in his pen to try to get him to eat from his bowl. At least he was drinking enough.

Today was very cool, at least by Maryland standards, and overcast, so all walks were put off until it warmed up. Unfortunately, it only warmed up enough for the two oldest birds to go outside. I should say fortunately because this is the best part of the day. This is when I wish each and every one of you could be here with me. These chicks are so cute and so entertaining. Watching them walk and discover the brand new world is a revelation for me. I see the world in a new way. I see every blade of grass and the seed heads as towering plants, not sure if it is going to attack or not. I see ants as tasty morsels to be snapped up before they scurry away. I see a flower as a toy, something to be pecked and jumped at. I see a leaf blowing by as a potential predator and thusly scamper behind mama. I see a mockingbird fly over, making me crouch down becoming as still as a statue.

Both chicks are as happy as could be and eager to follow. They stick out their stubby little wings and run, sometimes even flapping, as they try to keep up. They make their happy little sound which is more a trill than a peep. If I get too far ahead, they start to peep quite loudly - making it very clear they are unhappy. Sometimes they quickly squat down just to jump up as quickly, leaping at something only they can see. They exude joy---the kind of childlike joy we all had and should still have.

Both chicks, 901 and 903, were introduced to the trike yesterday, with its loud vocalize and even louder engine. Both did well, far better than I anticipated, boding well for being great followers in the air. In fact 903 hardly reacted when the engine started, merely standing up and staring. 901, however, bolted, but not far, only behind me as I squatted in the pen. Brian Clauss from Patuxent started the engine from outside the circle-pen fence. Very quickly, though, 901 came back toward the trike, enticed by meal worms. Soon he was calm enough to follow the trike for one lap around the pen.

This afternoon, we tried it again, and both chicks did so well we were able to get three laps around the circle-pen from each chick before we shut off the engine. I like to end the training sessions on a positive note, with the chick wishing it would go on. Once that engine stops, no more meal worms. This way they associate the trike engine with treats and will get to the point they want that engine revving.

Tomorrow should be warmer, so much busier. 904, 905 and 906 will all get walks for the first time and be shown the trike. 901 who should have had his first swim today, will tomorrow. 903 will also get his first swim. It will also be time to introduce 901 to 903 for their first day of socializing. We will keep our fingers crossed for that one. And with luck, all the chicks will be eating and drinking on their own except for 911, but that is to be expected for a one-day-old chick.

Pictures from left: 901, the first chick, and therefore the oldest in the Class of 2009. Middle: 903 on his first excursion outside. Right: 910 in his pen while Sadie, one of the Patuxent role-model cranes looks on from the adjacent run.

Date:May 10, 2009Reporter:Bev Paulan
Subject:CHICK ARRIVALSLocation:Laurel, MD
Chicks are popping out faster than we can keep track. This week we received a shipment of 3 eggs from Necedah, two of which have hatched already; 4 Calgary eggs, 3 of which are supposed to hatch Sunday the 10th. We have so many mouths to feed, it is hard to keep track. Luckily 2 of our interns, Trish Gallagher and Geoff Tarbox, started yesterday and are a huge help already.

906 and 907, both which hatched Thursday, are already in pens and are great eaters, nd of course the cutest little things. 908, which hatched yesterday morning, was in his incubator Friday night and we expect him to be placed in his pen sometime before Sunday depending on how steady on his feet he is and how he is eating.

Friday, we let 901, 903 and 904 outside for the first time. It was nice and warm, so we opened the doors to their outside runs, showed them how to go in and out through the door, and walked them up and down the run. Sadie, the imprint model seemed so excited to have them out, she was literally dancing in circles.

We need to practice this in and out technique with the chicks to familiarize them with the door. It, like everything else in their young lives, is brand new, and they need to be shown how to use it. We don't want a chick getting outside and then not knowing how to get back in where the food, water and heat lamp are.

Saturday was a day filled with teaching the youngest ones how to eat and drink; the middle ones how to get in and out; and, the oldest ones what the trike its. It will be exciting, and very very busy time.

Date:May 8, 2009 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: TWO MORE CHICKS HATCH Location:Crystal River, FL
In a quick call yesterday afternoon we learned from Bev that 905 and 906 made their appearance and have joined the ranks of the Class of 2009. One is from a Patuxent egg, and the other is an egg collected from one of the nests at Necedah. We believe it could be the offspring of 309* and 403 but should receive more info later today.

In addition to the egg count reported in Entry 2 for May 7th below, there are  3 more egg shipments to Patuxent scheduled at present; May 12th, 20th, and 30th. So far, San Antonio Zoo has sent 2 eggs; Calgary Zoo 4; and ICF 4 - one from their captive population and three from the wild nests.

Date:May 7, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter:Liz Condie
Subject: OM GOES TO WASHINGTON Location:Enroute to FL
Secretary Ken Salazar, presented a Partners in Conservation Award to Operation Migration in a ceremony held this morning at the Department of the Interior building in Washington, DC. OM was recognized for its efforts to reintroduce the Whooping crane to the eastern United States.

In his opening Secretary Salazar said, "These awards represent the dedicated and tireless efforts of people from all walks of life from across our Nation. They share a deep commitment to conservation and the community. Their achievements exemplify excellence in conservation through partnerships and cooperation with others. They are an inspiration to us all, and we are grateful for their efforts."

Tom Melius, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Director, said, 堡re grateful for the efforts of the entire OM crew, volunteers, and members of the WCEP team in helping to make this project a success. Quite simply, we couldnय this without them.ﰾ

"As John Christian so often says, it's all about the Power of Partnership," said OM CEO Joe Duff at the conclusion of the presentation ceremony. "Receiving this award is a proud moment for each of us at OM," he said. "this is very positive reinforcement, and an indication of the enthusiasm and support there is for the reintroduction project."

Date:May 7, 2009 - Entry 2 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: COUNTING EGGS & CHICKS Location:Enroute to Orlando, FL
Tom Stehn, International Recovery Team co-chair send along an update re eggs and chicks.

As of May 6th, the following chart gives an approximate tally of Whooping crane chicks and viable eggs in captivity. Tom said, "Since numbers change daily, it's likely some numbers will be quickly outdated. More eggs are expected as pairs lay second and third clutches and some late-laying females get going."


# of




Patuxent (own eggs)





Patuxent (others튉 eggs)





Species Survival Center, New Orleans





Calgary Zoo










San Antonio Zoo










"Of the 27 fertile eggs, less than half of them on average end up as fledged chicks released in central Wisconsin. There are unfortunately loses at every stage of development; some eggs fail to hatch, some chicks have immediate development problems; and, other chicks get sick."

Tom also noted that, "As many as six of the genetically more valuable chicks will be held back to replace losses in the adult captive population, the number one priority set by the Recovery Team for use of chicks produced in captivity. The personnel that devote their years to produce Whooping cranes have a very difficult task but are extremely dedicated," he said.

Date:May 7, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: NEXT STOP - DISNEY'S ANIMAL KINGDOM Location:Washington, DC
Following today's Ceremony at the Department of the Interior (see posting below) when OM will be presented with the Partners In Conservation Award by Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, Joe and I will hop a plane for Orlando. We'll be off to Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK) where we will celebrate International Migratory Bird Day.

If you are in the area, please visit us at Rafiki's Planet Watch (Saturday, May 9) where we will have a trike and our booth display set up. OM Volunteer and Board of Director, Walter Sturgeon will also be on hand to help out and to meet and chat with visitors.

This is the fourth year we have had the honor of being the guests of DAK and it is always a treat for us to greet Disney's thousands of visitors and share our story. It is an enormous outreach opportunity for OM, and we can't thank the folks at Animal Kingdom enough for having us.

Date:May 6, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: OM TO RECEIVE AWARD Location:Washington, DC
Operation MigrationਏM) Board of Directors is thrilled to announce that OM has been selected as one of the national winners of the Department of the Interior਄OI) Partners in Conservation Award.

The Partners in Conservation Award is the highest civilian partnership award given by the DOI. Previously called the Cooperative Conservation Award, this is the first year of this award under the new Obama administration.

Established to recognize cooperative conservation achievements that include collaborative activity among a diverse range of entities, the Award recognizes outstanding conservation results produced primarily because of the engagement and contributions of many partners.

堡re gratified to have our work with the endangered Whooping crane recognized with this high honor,㡩d Board Chair, Tennessean Vickie Henderson. ﴠonly does this Award acknowledge our successes and contributions to wildlife conservation, it affirms the capability of our very small organization.ﰾ

A presentation ceremony, complete with color guard, is planned for Thursday, May 7 at the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC. Representatives from the Board of Directors and members of the OM Team will be on hand to accept the Award.

"Operation Migrationడrticipation in the project to safeguard the Whooping Crane from extinction is a stellar example of what international co-operation can achieve," said International Recovery Team co-chairs Brian Johns (Wildlife Biologist, Canadian Wildlife Service) and Tom Stehn (US Fish and Wildlife Service Whooping Crane Coordinator, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge).

Stehn said, ॲation Migration has played a leading role in the reintroduction of Whooping cranes to eastern North America since 2001. Their successes and commitment makes them a very deserving recipient of this Award.ﰾ

OMÅO, Joe Duff, said, "While we are honored and grateful to receive this high honor, we share this Award with our many partners whose time, efforts, and dedication have contributed to the success of the Whooping crane project. We thank John Christian, Assistant Regional Director, Migratory Birds and State Programs, USFWS Region 3, who guided this project from its infancy to the success it is today and Larry Wargowsky, Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Manager who championed the this project on the ground.

The founding partners in the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership and with whom OM wishes to share this Award include:
International Whooping Crane Recovery Team
International Crane Foundation
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
U.S.G.S. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center / National Wildlife Health Center
Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources

Date:May 6, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: ADD TWO MORE TO THE CLASS OF 2009 Location:Laurel, MD
Bev advised this morning that we have two more chicks. 904 was pipping when she and Brooke left Patuxent last evening and it hatched out in the wee hours of the morning. 905 arrived on the scene just before 7AM. Both eggs were from USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center's captive population. Chick photos coming soon.

Date:May 5, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Bev Paulan
Subject: AND WE'RE OFF.... Location:Laurel, MD
Chick season has started, and when we walked through the door at Patuxent we were handed a ticket to the roller coaster.

Over the weekend, we watched like anxious new parents as a precious little chick struggled mightily to break out of its shell. Monday morning when we walked in to the propagation building we experienced the high that only comes with the news of the first hatches㴵ally two this time. All the hopes and aspirations of this project flood over us as we gaze upon the still sleepy downy chicks. 鬬 they be good followers?祠ask. 鬬 they make it all the way to Florida?튉is another question. Some questions we donࡳk, too full of the joy of the moment.

As the day goes on, we crest the hill and start the ride down as the little struggler, 902, continues his battle against forces stronger than he is. His legs are splayed wide needing a splint to hold them together. His little neck is cocked to one side, unable to be straightened. We let him rest, watching over him, noting the labored breathing, the pounding heart. It is not too long until the battle is lost, the fight gone from the damaged body.

The other chick, 901, who beat our little champion out of the shell by mere minutes, thrives. He is bold and robust. He is a beautiful shade of russet brown, dappled with lighter and darker shades to provide that perfect camouflage in a marsh. Every shade of dried reed, cattail and grass is worn on his downy back, and I can imagine him nestled down in his nest disappearing from sight when he closes his big liquid brown eyes. He eats and drinks well and after just 24 hours, he is placed in his pen next to the imprint model so he can see who he is going to be.

Just as we carry his peeping warm body to his pen, we are told of the hatching of 903. Soon, this still damp chick is brought from the hatcher to his incubator, and again, I stand in wonder and awe at this little miracle. After the winter in Florida with my 'teenagers', I have forgotten how small they begin life. How fragile and precious they start out and how fast they will grow - an inch a day - right before our eyes.

903 finds his legs quickly and is soon staggering around his ICU. He is a voracious eater, literally chomping on the puppet to get the finely ground tidbits. He bucks the normal, and instead of losing weight on the first day, gains. He drinks heartily, too, quickly discovering how to drink from the bowl. By the end of the day, he, too, is placed in his pen on the other side of the imprint model, Sadie.

Sadie is an attentive mother, quick to rattle at us (a threat) when we enter the chicks८, and to give an alarm call if the chick falls, alerting us to trouble. She has taken to her role as ᭡-by-proxyᮤ is the perfect model for our chicks.

As I leave for the day, I see the sign on the hatcher room 剅T!!! Whooping Crane Hatchingɠquietly enter the room and hear the ultralight engine tape being played to the hatcher. I pull open the door and see two eggs in the tray. As I peek in, I see a tiny beak pecking through the shell, one quick peck, then another and a microscopic piece of shell falls away. It wonࢥ long before this little guy is out, probably by tomorrow [Wednesday] noon. Another fuzzy ball of hope that will charm us all and keep us on the roller coaster that is chick season.

Date:May 5, 2009 - Enty 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: EGG COUNT Location:Laurel, MD
On the WCEP Bird Team conference call today it was reported that four eggs are currently enroute to Patuxent from Alberta's Calgary Zoo. An additional 4 eggs also from Calgary could potentially be sent later in May, and one more possibly could be coming from the San Antonio Zoo.

Three to four eggs will be sent from ICF to Patuxent tomorrow, May 6th. At Patuxent they currently have 9 fertile eggs and 5 which are as yet unknown.

We hope to have a full report on the viability/fertility of the eggs collected from the nests at the Necedah NWR to post here soon.

Date:May 4, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: CLASS OF 2009 CHICK DIES Location:Main Office
902, the second chick to hatch this season, died this afternoon. Bev reported that it in addition to having leg problems, it had pipped about three days before it finally hatched so it could have already have been having difficulties.

Date:May 4, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: THIRD CHICK HATCHES Location:Main Office
Politely waiting until after lunch, 903 emerged from its egg just after 1pm today. 903 is the second hatch from Patuxent's captive breeding population.

When Bev called us with the happy news, she said that there is potential for three more hatches before the week is out.

Date:May 4, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: FIRST OF THE CLASS OF 2009 HATCHED Location:Main Office
Two chicks hatched yesterday at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD. 901 is from a Patuxent egg, and 902 is from the San Antonio Zoo in Texas.

In other news, the pair 309* and 403 abandoned their nest on the Necedah refuge yesterday. They deserted the nest around 3:45 pm. When they had not returned by nightfall, Necedah Wildlife Biologist, Rich King, collected the eggs. This was last known active nest of the '09 season.

This was an especially disappointing turn of events as the anticipated hatch date was very close; guesstimated as being Thursday of this week. As there is still time for re-nests, we remain hopeful there may be wild chicks yet.

Date:May 3, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: MAKE YOUR PLANS Location:Main Office
Mark your calendars now so you can plan to join us at Necedah for the Lion's Club annual Whooping Crane Festival. Held on the fairgrounds in the town of Necedah, this year's day-long event is scheduled for Saturday, September 19th.

Assuming good flying weather that morning, you will want to start your day early with a visit to the Observation Tower on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge to watch OM's pilots conduct 'flight training' with the Class of 2009. From there you can head to the fairgrounds to enjoy the all-you-can-eat Pancake Breakfast.

Bus tours of the refuge will run every half hour between 7 to 11am and again in the afternoon from 3 to 4pm. The exhibits open at 9am - be sure to drop by OM's booth to say hello to the team. There will be other tours offered, and a host of presentations throughout the day - anchored in the 3pm time slot by OM's own Joe Duff. Finish your day by enjoying the camaraderie of other Craniacs at a chicken BBQ dinner while you take in the live music and dancing.

Visit the Necedah Lion's Club Whooping Crane Festival website for details. Note: Last year accommodations in the area were already scarce by July, so if you are planning an overnight stay, make your reservations early.

The day after the CraneFest, Sunday, September 20th, Operation Migration will be holding its Annual General Meetings in Necedah and members and supporters are invited to attend. Details will follow in later Field Journal postings.

Date:May 2, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: DON'T FORGET MOM ON MOTHER'S DAY Location:Main Office
For Mother's Day, (May 10th) give your Mom or special someone a gift of OM Membership. Or how about one of the cool items from OM's MarketPlace store. Check out our unique items now! You can৯ wrong with a gift from OM. And here's the best part - all the proceeds from OM's MarketPlace go to support the Whooping crane reintroduction project.

Shop for a gift
Shop online using PayPal, or call in your order toll free 1-800-675-2618. If you like, along with a card, we will ship your gift direct to your recipient!

Give a gift of Membership
Membership in Operation Migration is a great way for you to provide your special someone with some exclusive benefits, and at the same time support our work on the Whooping crane project.
Supporting Members receive:
ﳰan>  A complimentary copy of INformation, our semi-annual member-only magazine
ﳰan>  Discounts on OM gear and other items in OM͡rketplace
ﳰan>  News via our EarlyBird e-bulletins e-mailed directly to their InBox first thing each migration morning
ﳰan>  An invitation to attend OMǥneral and Annual Meetings
A great value at just $50 per year! Or, choose a two-year Membership at $90 and save $10.

To give a gift of OM Membership, call our office toll free at 1-800-675-2618. We will send your lucky recipient a special card announcing your gift via your choice of Email or regular mail.

Shop with OM - save gas - save the environment - save Whooping cranes!

Date:May 1, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: WELCOME OUR 2009 INTERNS Location:Main Office
The beginning of the 'chick season' is almost upon us with the first hatch expected early next week. OM veterans Bev Paulan and Brooke Pennypacker are already on site at Patuxent. Very shortly, three new interns will be joining Bev and Brooke to assist them and the Patuxent Chick Crew with the rearing and conditioning of the Class of 2009.

Our 2009 interns are Erin Harris, Patricia Gallagher, and Geoffrey Tarbox and you can view their photos and read their bios on our website Meet the Team page.

A warm OM welcome to Erin, Trish, and Geoffrey!

Date:May 1, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: $280 MILLION INVESTMENT ANNOUNCED Location:Main Office
In a late April press release, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that $280 million would be invested at Wildlife Refuges and Hatcheries to promote conservation.

Salazar said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would undertake more than 770 projects through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Included in the projects are the building of visitor centers and improvements to infrastructure.

峴 as the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s were the backdrop for our some of our nation৲eatest conservation efforts under President Franklin Roosevelt, so the current economic and environmental crisis provide an opportunity for us to enhance wildlife conservation while putting Americans back to work under the Presidentಥcovery plan,㡬azar said.

The list of projects includes $115 million for construction, repair and energy efficiency retrofit projects at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service facilities, and $165 million for habitat restoration, deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects.

Date:April 30, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: NESTING STATUS Location:Main Office
Louise Clemency, Field Supervisor in the Wisconsin Ecological Service Office of USFWS and co-Chair of WCEP's Project Direction Team, released the following statement today.

At least 12 breeding pairs of Wisconsin Whooping cranes established territories, built nests, and laid eggs this spring. Nearly all of these nests were located on the Necedah NWR, with one additional nest found on private land off the Necedah NWR. As of April 28, eleven of the 12 pairs had abandoned their nests, leaving one pair still incubating.

WCEP biologists managed to salvage a total of 7 eggs from these nests, only a portion of which were fertile. The remaining eggs were lost to various egg scavengers.

The nest abandonment pattern is similar to what has been observed in the past few years. WCEP is investigating the cause of the nest abandonments through analysis of data collected throughout the nesting period on nesting crane behavior, temperature, black fly abundance and distribution, and food availability.

Date:April 30, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Joe Duff
Subject: 'OFF SEASON' A MISNOMER Location:Main Office
Spring is supposed to be our off season. After the birds leave the wintering area and before the new generation of chicks start to hatch we should have a bit of a rest but that never works out. Instead we use the time to improve our performance and make a few changes.

Just like with the environment where everything is interconnected, so too is everything we touch in the office. One improvement leads to another shortcoming that needs to be fixed, and before you know it, the workload is overwhelming.

Our ambition was to update the website ᠨuge task. But it෥ll underway and you can expect a new look in the near future. That led to acquiring contact management software to help us stay in touch with our supporters. Learning a new program, merging and purging, and then migrating all the existing data to a new system is a monumental task, made worse when that system canࢥ shut down - even briefly.

Then came the idea of streaming video. Actually it࡮ old idea but the remoteness of the bird pens and the lack of electricity and an internet connection put everything on hold until the technology caught up. Well that didnഡke as long as we expected.

NetVision Mobile of South Carolina developed a mobile surveillance system designed for the military, police forces and construction companies who need to remotely monitor large areas.

The unit they produce is a small, but it has a very heavy trailer with enough deep-cycle batteries to last 21 days. It has a video server, an onboard computer, and two cameras mounted to a tower that can be elevated 30 feet high. It uses a WIFI signal to send the images to someone close by, a radio transmitter to send them up to four miles, or a cell phone air card to send them anywhere in the world.

Once the system is up and running we can log on from anywhere and pan, tilt and zoom either of the two cameras while the processor stores the footage on a 320 gig hard drive. It also has motion tracking technology that can sense movement within the frame, and pan tilt or zoom in to follow the action and get a closer look.

We have also equipped our camera trailer with a set of Power Wheels. These twin electric motors press up against the tires and with a remote control you can walk the trailer anywhere you want to position it, without the need for a tow vehicle. This way we can silently move it close to the pen without disturbing the birds.

Once this camera is up and running and all systems are in place, we hope to broadcast live video of the birds for about an hour, or two each day initially. The cost of transmitting large amounts of data on a continual basis is just too expensive for a non-profit like ours, so we have yet to determine exactly what shape the final product will take. Regardless, it will be the first time most people will get a close up look at our Whooping cranes.

Heather Ray and I just completed a road trip that took us halfway across the country. We first flew to Florida and picked up our truck at St. Marks. Our spare aircraft just wouldn঩t into the aircraft trailer so it was loaded into the back of the pick up for the trip north. It drew a lot of attention as we drove to Greenville, South Carolina.

We spent a day there in training, learning about all the systems in the complex camera unit. Most of it went soaring over my head, but Heather seemed to grasp the concepts. Then we headed north with the trike and trailer in tow and arrived in Necedah 20 hours later. Each night along the way we set the camera up in the hotel parking lot to practice what we thought we knew.

On the way north we received word that nests were being abandoned during a particularly warm few days so on arrival at Necedah, we set the camera up near Site 3 to watch a nesting pair there. It soon became obvious that they were not sitting on the nest, but instead were feeding in the marsh. After three hours we reported what we saw to Rich King, Necedahಥsident biologist and leader of the nesting studies currently underway.

The next morning Rich walked into that nest and found only egg shell fragments. That left only one pair (309* and 403) still sitting on eggs so we repositioned the camera to focus on their location. We watched for the rest of the day and then left the keys to the trailer with Rich and headed home.

We hope the camera and the birds will stay put until next Tuesday when the eggs in that nest are expected to hatch.

Date:April 30, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: NEST FAILURES Location:Main Office
We have been advised of the failure of all but one of the nests. Not all the details are currently available, but we will report further as they become known.

The remaining nest is that of 309* and 403. Fortunately, OM's new CraneCam has now been deployed to monitor this nest. While we will not be able to provide online viewing of nest monitoring, we do have one video clip we can share with you.

In order not to disturb the already nesting pair, the camera was deployed quite a distance away (.5 mi). There was also a gusty 40mph wind blowing when the clip was shot, so video quality is not particularly good. Click here to view the short clip.

Date:April 30, 2009 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: CLASS '08 LOSES ANOTHER OF ITS NUMBER Location:Main Office
The remains of 803 was discovered yesterday in Wood County by ICF Tracking Field Manager Eva Szyszkoski. Dr. Richard Urbanek said, "The carcass was cached under a white pine in a stand of young aspen adjacent to a cornfield. The neck wound, consumed pectoralis, [the fan shaped muscle, commonly known as 'pecs', situated at the upper front the chest wall] .and cached carcass, indicate possible predation by a bobcat," he said.

803 was last observed alive along with nos. 824 and 827 at the same location on the previous evening. The remains will be forwarded to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison for necropsy.

This mortality reduces the Eastern Migratory Population to an estimated maximum of 81 Whooping cranes; 51 males and 30 females.

Date:April 29, 2009 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: 'CHICK' NEWS Location:Main Office
Well, to be honest, we don't really have 'chick' news to report as yet. More properly we should have said 'egg' news but it just didn't seem to have the same ring to it.

Jane Chandler, Flock Manager at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD, gave us some good news today. They have two eggs with an expected hatch date of May 4th. One of the eggs is from Patuxent's captive population and the other came from the San Antonio Zoo. Jane said they expected to receive another egg from San Antonio later on.

Meanwhile, waiting in the wings are five more Patuxent eggs, and four are expected to arrive from the Calgary Zoo one day next week. In 2008 the first chick was hatched May 6th and the last one on June 15th. As always, it will be interesting to see what this season brings.

My-oh-my, it sure feels good to be reporting 'chick news' again!

Date:April 28, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the two departments are revoking a rule that undermined Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections. Their decision requires federal agencies to once again consult with federal wildlife experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - the two agencies that administer the ESA - before taking any action that may affect threatened or endangered species.

"By rolling back this 11th hour regulation, we are ensuring that threatened and endangered species continue to receive the full protection of the law,㡬azar said. "Because science must serve as the foundation for decisions we make, federal agencies proposing to take actions that might affect threatened and endangered species will once again have to consult with biologists at the two departments."

"For decades, the Endangered Species Act has protected threatened species and their habitats," said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. "Our decision affirms the Administration's commitment to using sound science to promote conservation and protect the environment."

In March, President Obama directed the Secretaries to review the previous Administrationӥction 7 regulation of the ESA - which governs interagency consultation - and Congress, in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, specifically authorized the Secretaries to revoke the regulation.

Locke and Salazar said the two departments will conduct a joint review of the 1986 consultation regulations to determine if any improvements should be proposed.

The Endangered Species Act was signed into law in 1973 to protect imperiled species from extinction, as well as conserve the ecosystems and habitats necessary for their survival.

Date:April 28, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter:   Liz Condie
Subject: ANNOUNCING... Location:Main Office
Operation Migration is pleased to announce a new strategic partnership with Yali brand wine, a product of Chilean winery Vi᠖entisquero.

Yali, takes its name and inspiration from the natural beauty of El Yali Wetland, one of Chile୯st important wetland ecosystems. Home to one quarter of the countryࢩrd species and a unique aquatic bird population, El Yali is designated as a Ramsar site. (The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty that promotes the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands around the world.)

Recognizing how crucial wetlands are to wildlife, humans and the environment, the winery has adopted practices designed to have as little impact on the environment as possible.

"That Vi᠖entisquero balances its commercial objectives with respect for the natural world shows industry leadership." said OM CEO Joe Duff, "and we are pleased to be associated with the Yali brand."

Laura Fontana, Yali Brand Manger said, "Our partnership with OM is centered around the Yali Wetland Winemaker͊ Selection line because the Yali brand seeks to convey an environmental message through high quality products supported by concrete, ecologically-responsible actions.쯰>

The Yali brand will be supporting OM through a donation to help fund our work with the chicks in the soon to be hatched Class of 2009.

Date:April 26, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: Protection of Migratory Birds Urged Location:Main Office
In a recent communiqu鬠petitioners urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address the killing of millions of migratory birds from collisions with the more than 100,000 communications towers throughout the United States.

American Bird Conservancy, National Audubon Society, and Defenders of Wildlife recently petitioned the FCC. They asked the agency to adopt new rules to comply with federal environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, in order to ensure that the impact of towers on migratory birds is properly considered and addressed in agency decisions. The groups also delivered over 15,000 petitions signed by citizens concerned for threatened wildlife.

堵rge the FCC to respond to the scientific evidence that millions of migratory birds are being killed every year by communications towers, and act swiftly to release rules that can halt this needless carnage,㡩d George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy.

An American Bird Conservancy report analyzing documented tower kills lists 230 species ﶥr one third of all avian species found in the United States 䨡t are known to be killed at towers, including many species of conservation concern.
The vast majority of bird mortality occurs during fall and spring when night-migrating birds are attracted in large flocks to the aviation safety lights on towers.

The lights, especially red solid-state or slow pulsing lights, interfere with the birds㥬estial navigation cues, particularly during poor visibility conditions such as rain and fog. Confused, the birds fly around the towers repeatedly, crashing into one another, the tower, its guy wires, or the ground. Others simply drop from exhaustion.

FCC Commissioners have recognized that this is a serious problem, resulting in the release of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in November 2006, but the FCC has yet to release a proposed rule. 岠communications network neednࢥ a death sentence for birds,㡩d Audubon Chief Scientist Dr. Thomas Bancroft. 襠FCC needs to take action now to make communications towers safe for birds as well as for human aviation.奄

In February 2008, a federal court of appeals ordered the FCC to carefully evaluate the potential adverse effects of communications towers on migratory bird populations of the Gulf Coast region. A panel of federal judges ruled that national environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act require the FCC to more carefully consider these possible adverse effects in its tower permitting process.

襠FCC has been aware of this problem for at least ten years. Now more than a year after the court clearly found the Commission in violation of federal environmental law when it comes to migratory birds, still no progress has been made,㡩d Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president for Defenders of Wildlife. 襠commission should stop dragging its feet and take action to implement rules that address this significant conservation issue.奄

These specific rules would include procedures for consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding species listed under the Endangered Species Act and considering the effects of communications towers on migratory birds under the National Environmental Policy Act. The groups also called for the FCC to develop an environmental impact statement considering the effects of communications towers on birds and methods to reduce bird losses on a national basis.

Date:April 25, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:A NEW 'REALITY SHOW' COMING SOON!!! Location:Main Office
If like us, you think WildlifeCams provide the best reality viewing there is, you are going to love this news.

In the not too distant future, thanks to the generosity of Duke Energy, OM will be able to offer you an opportunity to view Whooping cranes in a way never before seen.

Taking advantage of a special grant from Duke Energy, we are in the process of obtaining a 'CraneCam'. It will allow us to provide you with video of the cranes and their activities on an almost year round basis! The CraneCam will be utilized for two purposes; scientific data collection, and, outreach/education.

Initially, the CraneCam will be put to work at the  Necedah National Wildlife Refuge to assist with nest monitoring and related data collection. In fact, it is on it's way there right now. Joe and Heather are enroute, towing it behind our blue truck.

The CraneCam once the 40 to 50 day-old chicks are taken from Maryland to the Necedah refuge in Wisconsin for the summer we could locate the CraneCam at one of the pensites and perhaps provide some never-before-seen views. What exactly do they do when no one is around to watch? On flight training days we hope to position the camera to capture some of that activity too. And of course, the CraneCam would accompany us on the fall migration so you could also share in that excitement.

We still have many details to work out before we can offer online viewing, most particularly, sourcing and arranging for affordable bandwidth. But we are excited about the prospect and wanted to share this TERRIFIC news with you. In the meantime, watch here for more on the CraneCam as we get closer to providing you internet access to images you could never see in person.

Please use our GuestBook (click the link to the right) to join with us in expressing appreciation to Duke Energy. Without Duke's generosity and ongoing enthusiasm for this conservation project, the wonderful sights we expect to unfold before our eyes would go uncaptured. THANK YOU DUKE ENERGY!!

Date:April 24, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:NESTING INFO Location:Main Office
The 12 nests that have been confirmed so far this year is a record. (see Entry 1 for today below) Two nests failed, but 10 of the 12 pairs continue to incubate. Of note is the fact that three other very young 'pairs' were observed nest building - something not seen before in EMP birds this of this age.

307 was observed unison calling and nest building with two year old 726*, and 402 with D746*. Perhaps most surprizing is the two Class of 2007 birds, 707 and D739* who were seen nest building in Wood County.

Weather-wise, here's what today looks like in the various locations where EMP Whooping cranes are. This morning it is 61F in Necedah with a forecast high for today of 83F. In Illinois where the three '08 juveniles are located it is 62F with 83 projected for later in the day. They have a great south and south-southeast tailwind this morning so maybe they'll been tempted to take wing. The temperature this morning at the last known location (in Florida) of the lone bird still in the south is 71F, going up to 88 by afternoon.

Date:April 24, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
The current estimated maximum size of the Eastern Migratory Population is 82; 52 males and 30 females. Distribution includes 70 in Wisconsin; 3 still on migration in Illinois, 3 in Michigan, and 6 whose locations/status is unknown. In the report below, * = female, D = Direct Autumn Release; NFT = non-functional transmitter.

-DAR527* was confirmed in Sawyer County, WI March 24 and reported in Alger County, MI April 18.
-A Whooping crane with an incomplete band description was reported in Oakland County April 13.
-A Whooping crane with undecipherable banding was reported in Van Buren County April 18.

Spring Migration
-803, 824* and 827 moved from Thomas County, GA to Mitchell County, GA April 6. They resumed migration to Marshal County, AL April 17, then to Christian County, KY April 18 before moving to Webster County KY April 21. They were next in Effingham County, IL April 22 and in McHenry County IL April 23.

Wisconsin Notes
- 307 & 726* observed unison calling and nest building at NNWR April 14th and 17th.
-318 & 313* began incubation April 7. They were detected off the nest the morning of April 18 but radio signals indicated they were back near the nest that evening. They were still not on the nest by noon the next day and were not seen incubating in subsequent checks. Destruction of the egg(s) was confirmed the evening of April 19.
- 402 & D746* observed nest building April 14.
- 416 was observed near the nest of 213 & 218* April 19. The pair was not incubating and attempted to chase 416 away, but he kept following them towards their nest and joined in their unison calls. 416, who was the mate of deceased 209*, left the area by evening.
- 706, 712, and 713 completed migration April 17 when they arrived at NNWR.
- 707 & D739* observed nest building in Wood County April 22.
- 804, 814, and 818* completed migration April 16 when they were detected in flight SE of Necedah NWR.
- 805, 812, 828, 829, and 830* left McLean County, IL for LaSalle County, IL April 12, and arrived south of the NNWR April 16.
- 813* remained in Washington County, Iowa until ~April 15. Subsequent PTT data indicated roost locations in Outagamie County, WI, April 16 and Winnebago County, WI on April 18.
- 819 completed his migration to the core reintroduction area by April 21. He had previously last been confirmed leaving Etowah County, AL with 804, 814, and 818* on March 26, but was not with them when the others were recorded in Peoria County, IL.

The following pairs initiated incubation on or about the dates shown. All nests are on Necedah NWR except for one in Wood County.
505 & 415* - April 2
211 & 217* - April 7
318 & 313* - April 7 (nest failed April 18)
317 & 303* - April 8
403 & 309* - April 8
408 & 519* - April 8 (nest failed ~April 21)
212 & 419* - April 9
401 & 508* - April 9
213 & 218* - April 16
311 & 312* - April 20
105 & 501* - April 21
310 & W601 - incubation date unknown

Current Status/Location Undetermined
- 107*NFT last reported in Jasper County, IN March 10-15. ( May have been the bird sited in Dodge County, WI at the end of March.)
- 524 last reported in Warrick County, IN March 15.
- 316NFT last confirmed in Greene County, IN March 10-15.
- D533* last reported in Hardin County, KY February 22 �ch 1. (An unconfirmed sighting April 6 in Mason County, MI, may have been this bird.)
- D737 last confirmed in Meigs County, TN March 8.
- 810 last recorded in Alachua Co. FL January 26. (During an aerial flight Feb. 6 a faint, erratic, possible signal was detected but no signal was detected during a thorough ground search conducted Feb. 10 or a flight on Feb 17.) Transmitter malfunction and mortality are suspected.
- 733 last recorded in Polk County April 15.

Long Term Missing (more than 90 days)
- 205NFT last confirmed on Necedah NWR, WI Oct. 16
- D744* last transmitter reading indicated location in Paulding Co. OH November 18. (A report of a Whooping crane in Wayne Co. IN on November 29 may have been this bird.)
- 516 last confirmed in Marion County, FL December 22. (Transmitter failure suspected)

This report was compiled from data provided by WCEPԲacking Team.

Date:April 23, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:WHOOPERS POPULAR TOPIC Location:Main Office
Whooping cranes certainly seem to be in the news lately and a popular topic for journalists on both sides of the 49th parallel. We found two articles in a recent edition of the online Montreal Gazette. Click to read articles entitled: Environmentalists alarmed as Alberta considers crane hunt, and, Worry About Whoopers.

And on a more positive note, we received the info below in an email from Craniac Karen Ann Kolling of Rhode Island. Karen said, "This is just for comparison, in case you guys get discouraged."

"The first condor nest in 70 years was found near Pinnacles Monument in California. Over 40 years of work and thousands of hours and dollars spent from 1967 to 2009 and the population is now just 322 - and we're glad we've got 322! But once again it shows how hard it is to help nature re-succeed after we've driven them to very near extinction."

Date:April 22, 2009 - Entry 4Reporter: Liz Condie
For his article that appeared today in the Madison, WIápital Times, journalist John Nichols employed the title, 龃ongress to Wisconsin cranes: Happy Earth Day.ྔhe article is about the passage of the Crane Conservation Act of 2009, sponsored by Wisconsin Congresswoman, Tammy Baldwin and co-sponsored by Congressman Ron Kind (D-La Crosse). While the legislation still has to go to the Senate (where it is championed by Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl), the Act has made it over the first hurdle.

Click here to read John Nichols' article in the Capital Times.

Click here to read the text of H.R. 388: Crane Conservation Act of 2009.

Date:April 22, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:IT'S EARTH DAY - What are YOU doing? Location:Main Office
Can we inspire you to do something for the environment to celebrate Earth Day? Our work is all about safeguarding Whooping cranes, but ultimately, they must have safe, clean habitat. We humans too need a safe and clean habitat.

There are a thousand and one things on as many internet sites to give you ideas, but here's an easy one. Don some gloves and grab several of those ever-present plastic grocery bags you have sitting around the house. Spend just 20 minutes collecting trash in your neighborhood (or somewhere nearby that really needs it). You'll be helping to clean up the environment and putting those nasty plastic bags to use. (In the US alone, more than 100 billion plastic bags are used each year - the equivalent of 12 million barrels of oil.)

It seems like such a small thing to do. But a small thing done by many people can make an enormous difference. There are more than 500 million people living in North America. Imagine if just 1% of us picked up 1 pound of trash and 1 pound of recyclables today. Our streets and parks would be cleaner by more than 10 million pounds of 'stuff'!!!!

Small effort - high impact - and a world of difference for the environment.

Date:April 22, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
With clear skies and moderate winds, yesterday࣯nditions were ideal for the 11th aerial census of the 2008-09 crane season at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Pilot Gary Ritchey flew an Air Transit Solutions㥳sna 210 with USFWS observer Tom Stehn aboard.

Tom tallied a total of 21 Whooping cranes on the flight; 20 adults and 1 juvenile. This means that 226 of the 247 cranes in the population (91.5%) have left on migration, including all known adult pairs.

Tom said, 蠣ranes have started the migration since the last flight on April 7th when 109 cranes were estimated present. Whooping cranes have recently been reported as far north as Saskatchewan. Some cranes not tallied above presumably headed north today [April 21] since conditions were very good for migration with sunny skies and mostly southwest and south winds after several days of unfavorable migration weather.ﰾ

In his report, Tom noted that 8 of the 21 cranes located on yesterday͊ flight were singles. The one juvenile present was closely associated in a group with 3 white-plumaged cranes, the largest group observed on the flight. "The juvenileడrents have presumably started the migration and left 宩or⥨ind," he said. "This juvenile crane will be fine and has the knowledge to make the return migration to Wood Buffalo National Park on its own or with other sub-adult cranes.ﰾ

With estimated losses that have occurred at Aransas this winter, Tom projects the current flock size as being 247; 225 adults and 22 juveniles. His estimate of the peak winter flock size was 270, consisting of 232 adults and 38 juveniles.

Habitat use
ﲠthe first time all winter, all the Whooping cranes were found in salt marsh," Tom said. "The cranes are believed to be feeding on fiddler crabs since blue crabs in the marsh ponds are still scarce due to the continuing drought. A blue crab count done on April 1st found zero crabs in the marsh. Since most of the cranes have migrated, supplemental feeding has been discontinued."

Tomಥport included a note regarding a lightning-caused wildfire. The fire started April 18th on Matagorda Island and burned ~10,000 acres of upland prairie. The fire, which was contained on April 20th, was allowed to burn out. 襠burn will benefit the prairie habitat by recycling nutrients and controlling brush,襠said.

Date:April 22, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Thanks to supporter Ed Kahler from Illinois for notifying us of an article by Ana Campoy about the Wood Buffalo-Aransas Population that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Click here to read the piece.

Date:April 21, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:ABC MEDIA RELEASE Location:Main Office
In a recent Press Release, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) talked about a bill introduced into the Senate regarding the conservation of rapidly disappearing migratory birds. The substance of ABC୥dia release is below.

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, has introduced bipartisan legislation to boost funding for the conservation of migratory birds. Cosponsors of the bill include Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT).

Ჹland஡tural treasure, our environment, is a lure for millions of human tourists and avian visitors each year. For nearly a decade, federal investment in habitat protection, education, research and monitoring of neotropical migratory birds has been vital to the well-being of our ecosystem and our economy,㡩d Senator Cardin.

The Senate bill, S. 690, reauthorizes the existing Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA), but at significantly higher levels, to meet the growing needs of our migrants, many of which are in rapid decline. Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) plans to introduce similar legislation in the House of Representatives. The legislation was introduced following the release of U.S. State of the Birds, the most comprehensive assessment to date on the status of bird populations. The report found that over 250 American bird species are in decline or facing severe threats.

詳 legislation is urgently needed to prevent America஡tive birds from disappearing,㡩d Darin Schroeder, American Bird Conservancy֩ce President of Conservation Advocacy. 塲ly half of our songbird population is now in decline or facing serious threats; effective conservation projects can help us to start turning that around.ﰾ

Of the 178 continental bird species included on American Bird ConservancyסtchList of birds of highest conservation concern, over one-third, 71 species, are Neotropical migrants. The populations of an estimated 127 species of migratory birds are in persistent decline, and 60 species have experienced significant population declines greater than 45% over the last 40 years. Several species, the Cerulean Warbler and Olive-sided Flycatcher, have declined as much as 70% since surveys began in the 1960s.

"Senator Cardin has been a champion of Maryland's environment for many years,㡩d Schroeder. 詳 vital legislation recognizes that Maryland's migratory birds, including species like the Baltimore Oriole, Kentucky Warbler and Whip-poor-will, require our help if to ensure that they continue to thrive. We applaud the Senator for his leadership on this critical local and national conservation issue."

Saving Migratory Birds for Future Generations: The Success of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, a 2008 report by American Bird Conservancy, details the disturbing downward trend in the populations of many migratory species and its causes, and documents the effectiveness of NMBCA. American Bird Conservancy and the Bird Conservation Alliance, a broad network of bird clubs, science and conservation organizations, have launched the Act for Songbirds campaign, to support reauthorizing the legislation and boosting funding levels each year. Citizens are being encouraged to contact their Senators in support of the legislation at

詳 is something that everyone who loves birds can do to make a difference,㡩d Schroeder.

Date:April 20, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:VIDEO Location:Main Office
Perhaps your internet surfing has already turned up this video piece on the St. Marks arrival of the Class of 2008. If not, click the link to go to a piece produced by the folks at FSU. Arrival Video

Date:April 19, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:DETAILS RE 420 Location:Main Office
Beth Kienbaum, Whooping Crane State Coordinator for Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources advised that the remains of 420 were recovered in the Chippewa Moraine Ice Age State Recreation Area on April 15.

Indications were that the bird had been dead for awhile as the carcass was mostly scavenged. Beth said she received word of the remains from a visiting couple who had driven though the area Saturday, April 11, at which time the bird was reported greatly scavenged.

420 was known to have frequented Chippewa County and Rusk County previously. She was last detected in Meigs County, TN in mid December.

Date:April 19, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK Location:Main Office
Today, April 19th, marks the beginning of National Volunteer week. Throughout North America, indeed the world, volunteers play an invaluable role in today's society. In Canada alone, more than 12 million volunteers contribute almost 2 billion hours of their time over the course of a year. (Statistics Canada, 2006)

Volunteerism makes enormous contributions to our nations壯nomies, benefiting countless organizations and individuals. For many non-profits, especially small ones like Operation Migration, volunteers are indispensible.

OM's enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers selflessly donate thousands of hours and perform a diversity of tasks from sewing costumes and helping in the office, to assisting on the migration and fundraising. They are the cornerstone on which our success is built, and in no small measure help to ensure the health and vibrancy of the organization.

To each and every one we say a resounding and heartfelt THANK YOU!

As National Volunteer week begins we found some quotes to pay tribute to ALL those who volunteer; those folks who give of themselves, their time and talent, to provide assistance and services, that for many organizations, could be had no other way.

Some of the richest people in the world are not millionaires, they are volunteers.
Author unknown

Volunteers are seldom paid; not because they are worthless, but because they are PRICELESS!
Author unknown

Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.
Lily Tomlin

Service to others is the payment you make for your space here on earth.
Mohammed Ali

Everyone can be great because anyone can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't even have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve... You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love...
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation's compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another.
Erma Bombeck

If you are a Volunteer, we thank you. If you arenࡠVolunteer, please search one out this week and say, 衮k you.

Date:April 18, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
Dr. Richard Urbanek has reported the demise of Direct Autumn Release (DAR) Whooping crane 837. He advised that partial remains were discovered April 15th during an aerial survey being done of Paynes Prairie Preserve by Tim Dellinger of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. DAR837 had last been seen alive April 7th during a similar survey.

Urbanek said, "The leg with the PTT was recovered April 16th and its VHF transmitter was tracked to an alligator ~550 feet east of the recovery site. Four hours later, the transmitter was again tracked to the alligator, now about 200 feet east of its previous location."

Richard said the limited recovered remains had been forwarded to Dr. Marilyn Spalding at the University of Florida for examination/necropsy.

DAR837 wintered at Paynes Prairie as did nine other Whooping cranes from the Eastern Migratory Population. "The older birds left on spring migration in March while DAR837 remained behind in the company of two non-migratory Whooping cranes," he said. Urbanek said he suspects that 810, who was among the cranes wintering at Paynes Prairie, is also dead. 810 was last recorded alive at that site on January 26.

WCEP extends thanks to the staff of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and to Tim Dellinger and Marty Folk of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for their assistance.

In his email, Dr. Urbanek also mentioned, "....the recent mortality of 420 in Chippewa County, WI," but gave no details. More on this as information is made available to us.

Date:April 17, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:CLASS OF '08 JUVENILES ARRIVE Location:Main Office
We just learned that WCEP trackers picked up the signals of 804, 814, and 818* at Necedah NWR yesterday. The three, along with 819, were the first of the Class of 2008 to depart on spring migration. They left Chassahowitzka NWR on March 24th. While going through Alabama 819 split from the group and his location is currently unknown.

AND, five of the juveniles in the St. Marks cohort who began their migration March 30th also arrived late yesterday. They are: 805, 812, 828, 829 and 830*.  The other two of the seven are 813* last reported in Iowa before arriving in eastern WI,  and 826 who died of injuries sustained in Illinois.

Date:April 17, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:CRANES FEATURED Location:Main Office
The front cover of the April issue of Tri-State Outdoor News featured Whooping cranes. Click the link to check it out.

Date:April 16, 2009 Reporter: Joe Duff
Subject:NESTING STUDY UNDERWAY Location:Main Office

At last count there were nine pairs of Whooping cranes nesting in Wisconsin and we have rubbed every rabbitযot, collected a box full of four-leaf clovers and crossed all of our digits. More than just wishing and hoping, there is an active program underway to promote successful breeding or at least, find out if there is a problem. Rich King, the resident biologist at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, is in charge of coordinating all the research efforts and there is an extensive list.

The Project Direction Team and the Recovery Team feel that another year of nest abandonment would be not bode well for the project and are generally in favor of aggressive research. This means that the behaviour of all of the nesting pairs will be monitored both on and off the nest. Blinds are being set up and manned for most of the day and cameras have been deployed.

Black fly breeding areas have been mapped and CO2 traps have been set up. Whooping crane decoys will be set up this week and one even has real wings. A pair of Whooping crane wings from the class of 2006 has been sent from Florida and will be fitted to a plastic decoy to determine if black flies are attracted to Whooping crane feathers.

Mike Putnam and George Archibald from the International Crane Foundation and Sammy King from LSU are conducting a food availability study beginning this week. Much data have already been collected.

East Rynearson Pool was drained last year and by early summer it was covered in lush grasses. Once it was re-flooded that vegetation increased the level of nutrients in the water to help boost the food cycle and increase the productivity of the pool. Everyone hopes it worked. John Christian sent us some recent photos of 200+ Tundra swans that stopped at Necedah on their way north. He said a lot of them were 鰰ingﲠputting their heads under to feed off the bottom. Thatࡠgood sign and means there must be something there to eat. To test the food shortage theory even further, supplemental corn is being provided to four pairs.

There is a lot of work being done by a lot of people; all in an effort to find out why we have had limited breeding success. Whooping cranes are full of surprises. Maybe this could be the year.

Date:April 15, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
Marty Folk, Biological Scientist with the Florida Fish and Conservation Commission, reported that intensive monitoring of the Florida non-migratory population is underway this season. Since March, substantial movements by much of the flock have been documented, with some birds dispersing beyond the central Florida peninsula.

鳰ersal is a suspected reason why birds have "disappeared" in the past,㡩d Folk. 鴨 our intensive monitoring, we are documenting this extreme rate of movements/dispersal. We suspect the birds are moving in response to drought, perhaps looking for wetter/greener pastures.ﰾ

Marty noted that since the beginning of the year, one pair had bounced between 4 points in north and central Florida, travelling a minimum distance during the first quarter of 470 miles, and increasing the odds of travel-related mortality.

In his second update for the 2009 breeding season, Folk advised that one chick had hatched and was now more than 24 days old. Two non-viable eggs were collected from a nest in Lake County and sent for necropsy.

堶ideo-taped both nests with surveillance equipment and recorded the nest activity during all daylight hours,�ty said. 堷ill be analyzing this pool of video, along with other footage recorded through the years, to determine if incubation behavior by the birds may have been associated with nest success.

At the time of this update, no other nesting activity had been observed this spring. Marty said, 壡use of drought, there is little suitable habitat available.ﴤ>

Date:April 14, 2009Reporter: Heather Ray
Subject:RECOGNITION FOR WCEP Location:Main Office
We received the following note from John Christian late yesterday: ࡭ very pleased to recognize the WCEP Communications and Outreach Team for receiving the Recovery Champions award for 2008. Co-chaired by Joan Garland of the International Crane Foundation and Daniel Peterson, USFWS, this team continues to fulfill an essential role within the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

From school presentations to emceeing the arrival flyover event at Dunnellon Airport in Florida, Joan continues to be the "go-to" person for outreach on the project. From the Whooping Crane Festival at Necedah to the fall departure coordination at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Daniel Peterson remains a key player in sharing information about this project in Wisconsin, and across State borders.

I would like to thank all members of the WCEP Communications and Outreach team - without effective communications, this project could not have achieved what it has to date. Congratulations!

I am also very pleased to recognize our ultimate Whooper guru, Tom Stehn for his selection also as a Recovery Champion for 2008. Tom's efforts on behalf of Whooping cranes everywhere have been exemplary and reflect his personal dedication to the recovery of the species. He is certainly an inspiration for all of us. The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership continues to be recognized for outstanding efforts!

To see the official announcement, visit this link.

Date:April 12, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
In the report below, * = female, D = Direct Autumn Release; NFT = non-functional transmitter.

Summary as of April 8th
- 54 Whooping cranes had completed their spring migration to Wisconsin. 49 were located in the core reintroduction area and 6 in other locations.
- 3 of the Class of 2008 Chass cohort were in Georgia
- 8 birds were in Illinois
- 1 (813*) was in Iowa
- 1 in an unknown location
- 5 (D837, 706, 712, 713, 733) were still in Florida

Wisconsin Notes
- 216 began closely associating with 716* by March 27 and the two were observed unison calling that day.
- 307 briefly associated with W601* March 30 ᰲil 2nd.
- 402 was observed associating and unison calling with D746* April 3rd. 402 was also observed nest building at Site 1 for approximately 5 minutes on April 5th.
- A lone crane believed to be 416NFT was reported alone on the territory he and his mate 209* previously occupied. 209* is presumed dead.

Current Status/Location Undetermined
- 107*NFT last reported in Jasper Co. IN March 10-15.
- 316NFT last reported in Greene Co. IN March 10-15.
- 520* began migration from Taylor County, FL ~ Feb. 19-25. No subsequent reports.
- 524 last reported in Warrick Co. IN March 15.
- D533* last reported in Hardin Co. KY March 1.
-D737last confirmed in Meigs Co. TN March 8
- 810 last recorded in Alachua County, FL Jan. 26. Mortality suspected.
- 819 last detected migrating from Etowah Co. AL March 26.

Long-term Missing (More Than 90 Days)
- 205NFT last confirmed at Necedah Oct. 16, 2007.
- D744* last detected in Paulding County, OH Nov. 18, 2008
- 420*NFT last confirmed in Meigs County, TN Dec. 19, 2008
- 516 last confirmed in Marion County, FL Dec. 22, 2008

This report was compiled from data provided by WCEPԲacking Team.

Date:April 10, 2009 - Entry 4Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:NESTING PAIRS Location: Main Office
As promised in Entry 2 posted earlier today, here is a list of the eight pairs currently nesting.
211 & 217*
212 & 419*
317 & 303*
318 & 313*
403 & 309*
408 & 519*
505 & 415*
508 & 401*

Four adult pairs not yet nesting are: 105 & 501*; 213 & 218*; 310 & W601*; and 311 & 312*

Date:April 10, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Heather Ray
Subject:MIGRATION UPDATE Location: Main Office
Many thanks to Richard Urbanek (USFWS), and Eva Szyszkoski, Sara Zimorski, and Jess Thompson of the International Crane Foundation for compiling the following migration details.

311 and 312* roosted in Vermilion County, Illinois on the night of March 21st. They arrived on Necedah NWR 6 days later, on the 26th.

412 and DAR746*: According to PTT readings for 746*, the pair was in Vermillion County, Indiana, from March 19崨. They completed migration to Necedah NWR on March 28th.

511, 716* and 724: PTT readings for 716* indicated a migration stop in DeKalb County, Illinois, on the night of March 21st. The birds apparently completed migration to Necedah NWR on March 22nd.

DAR627 and 628 were reported SW of Michigan City, Porter County, Indiana, during the period of March 22-25th. They completed migration to Necedah NWR by March 28th.

703, 707, DAR739* and DAR742*: PTT readings for 739* indicated migration stops in Marshall County, Kentucky, on March 22nd and in Dodge County, Wisconsin, on March 25th. The group of four completed migration to the Necedah NWR area on March 26-27.

709, 717* and 726* began migration from Hernando County, Florida, on March 24th. PTT readings for 717* indicated stops in Macon County, Georgia on March 24th; Carroll County, Georgia on March 27th; Breckinridge County, Kentucky on March 30-31st; and back on Necedah NWR on the 2nd of April.

710 and 722*: PTT readings for 722* indicated roosting data in Champaign County, Illinois on March 22nd. 722* was detected on Necedah NWR the following day. The refuge data-logger recorded signals for both birds on 24 March, and they were both confirmed on the refuge later that day. They remained together south of the refuge throughout the report period.
803, 824* and 827 began migration from Chassahowitzka NWR on April 4th. They were found at a roost location in Thomas County, Georgia the next day. On April 6th they continued migration in unfavorable winds to their current location.

804, 814, 818* and 819 began migration from Chassahowitzka NWR on March 24th. Their signals were lost near roost time in Bullock County, Alabama. The next day a weak signal for 814 was detected in Macon County, Alabama. PTT readings for 818* that night indicated roosting in Etowah County, Alabama. They continued migration from that location on March 26th to Madison or Jackson Counties, Alabama, where they stayed for two days before apparently resuming migration on March 28th. PTT readings for 818* indicated locations in Hopkins County, Kentucky on the night of March 29th and Peoria County, Illinois on March 31st. Only the transmitter signals of 804, 814, and 818* were detected at the Peoria County location the following day. 819 had last been detected with the group in migration from Etowah County, Alabama. The three remaining birds continued migration from Peoria County on April 1st in strong WSW winds, dropping just south of the Wisconsin border where they stayed for the remainder of the report period.

805, 812, 813*, 826, 828, 829 and 830* began migration from St. Marks NWR on March 30th. According to PTT readings, 813* roosted in Chambers County, Alabama on March 31st; Crittenden County, Kentucky on April 2nd and at her current location in southeast Iowa on April 4-6. The remaining six birds were reported in McLean County, Illinois, beginning April 2nd. On the 6th of April number 826 was recovered at this location with multiple fractures of the left leg.

Date: April 10, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: HERE A NEST...THERE A NEST... Location: Main Office
On an aerial survey of Necedah NWR and surrounding areas, ICF's Sara Zimorski and Eva Szyszkoski were able to confirm a total of 8 Whooping cranes nesting. There are 4 additional pairs that we have expectations of nesting. We will post a list of the 8 pairs currently nesting as soon as it becomes available to us.

Date: April 10, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: LOST BIRD DOESN'T EQUAL LOST HOPE Location: Main Office
As you might imagine, the death of 826 set our phones ringing. Almost without exception, media interviewers asked some version of the question, ﷠hard is it to lose one of your birds?ྉt made me stop and wonder at how intensely we feel each and every mortality. When Iࡳked to talk about the staggering loss of the Class of 2006, I still have to work at not tearing up. You would think we'd become inured. They are wild creatures after all, and many of the mortalities are due to predation - a part of the natural order of things. To expect a one hundred percent survival rate is unrealistic. Yet, we feel every death in the population as intensely as the one before.

From the pilots who fly with them and the handlers who care for them, to we whose efforts on their behalf do not offer the benefit of proximity to them, it is impossible to devote the overwhelming amount of care, time, and energy our roles demand, and not be affected by each loss.

Intellectually we know we did everything in our limited human power to acquire the resources and to prepare the young Whooping cranes for their life in the wild. But emotionally we inevitably wonder, ﵬd we have done more?衶ing controlled every facet of the young Whooping craneॸistence for so many months, it is hard to accept the fact that there are events we just can࣯ntrol.

People have often said, 崠it was only a bird." Not only do they not understand the strength and complexity of the relationship we at OM have with 'our' Whooping cranes, they couldnࢥ more wrong. These birds personify HOPE.

HOPE for the preservation of their wetland habitat. HOPE for all the less engaging creatures that ensure the Whooping cranes祬fare. "And HOPE for us, as their well-being and that of the marshlands they inhabit benefit the human environment.

While we mourn the death of 826, and the many Whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population that have also been lost, we have not lost HOPE. We take comfort knowing that the OM team has the support of our many Craniacs who know and understand our sadness. We remind ourselves of the joy and fulfillment that comes to us from our work. And we look forward to caring and feeling equally intensely about the soon to be hatched Class of 2009.

Date: April 9, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: UNFORTUNATE OUTCOME FOR 826 Location: Main Office
Below is part of an email message we received today from Dr. Julia Whittington, who is a Clinical Assistant Professor with the Zoological Animal Medicine and Surgery at the Wildlife Medical Clinic in Urbana, IL.

I wanted to let you know that subsequent to its recovery from anesthesia earlier today for a nuclear scintigraphy evaluation of the foot to assess vascular integrity, Whooping crane 826 died. I suspect [given the extent and severity of its injuries] this may very well be the optimal outcome, but I appreciate you allowing us to manage this case.

Dr. Whittington went on to thank everyone who had helped them by providing guidance, benefit of experience, and protocol information. "I feel very fortunate," she said, "knowing that this group of professionals is caring for these birds and looking out for their best interest.

She also expressed her pride in the exemplary manner in which their students managed the case, saying, "They are a talented, dedicated group of individuals who always had this animal's best interest in mind."

OM and all of WCEP are in turn, grateful and indebted to Dr. Whittington and all those at the Wildlife Medical Clinic for their unstinting efforts on behalf of 826.

Date: April 9, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: 826 TO HAVE SURGERY Location: Main Office
Juvenile 826 was discovered injured in a field northeast of Bloomington, IL and has been taken to the University of Illinois穬dlife Medical Clinic in Urbana where veterinary surgeon Dr. Avery Bennett will attempt to repair the crane's very severe leg fractures. The Clinic୥dical Director, Dr. Julia Whittington, said the leg was broken into at least 10 pieces.

826 is one of the seven birds that wintered at the St. Marks NWR. They left together on their spring migration March 30th.

The owner of the land where 826 and five others from the St. Marks cohort had stopped, noticed the bird was in trouble and took it to his vet. The vet contacted a local wildlife rehabber who transported 826 to the University of Illinois Medical Clinic Sunday evening. (April 5th)

The landowner reported that the five other juveniles migrating with 826 waited three days before leaving him behind. 813*, the lone crane in the St. Marks cohort fitted with a PTT, (platform terminal transmitter) had previously split from her six flock mates and was last reported in Iowa.

The cause of 826੮jury is unknown, but Dr. Whittington said, "It was a large force impact." She also noted that, 襠prognosis for viability of the left foot is guarded at best.鴠will depend on whether the blood supply to it is adequate.

堡re all concerned about 826,㡩d OM's Joe Duff, anxiously wait for further news. Assuming successful surgery, and that more extensive injuries are not found, and given the likely necessity for weeks of rehabilitation and resulting human habituation, it is doubtful he could be re-released into the wild.Ⲿ
Sara Zimorski of ICF and Co-leader of the Tracking Team reports that of the 14 birds in the ultralight-led Class of 2008, the injured bird, 826, is ranked as a 5 in the genetic rating. (1 being the highest) He has two full sibling in the WCEP population and 2 full siblings in the captive flock.

The Wildlife Medical Clinic, a WCEP veterinary partner, is staffed 24 hours a day and treats more than 2,000 animals each year.

Date: April 8, 2009 -  Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Whooping Crane Coordinator, Tom Stehn conducted the seasonഥnth aerial census of Whooping cranes at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on April 7th. Tom reported viewing conditions as ideal allowing for nearly all parts of the cranes⡮ge to be covered.

On the April flight 103 adults and 6 juveniles were counted ᠍ total of 109 cranes. Based on this tally, Tom estimates 56% of the Wood Buffalo-Aransas population has left on migration. In fact, April 2nd, Whooping cranes were confirmed as being as far north as Nebraska. Tom said he expect a considerable number of cranes will start their migration in the next week when forecast strong southeast winds should present ideal migrating conditions.

With estimated losses that have occurred at Aransas this winter, the current flock size is estimated at 225 adults and 22 juveniles, for a total of 247. The estimated peak winter flock size was 232 adults + 38 juveniles = 270 total.

Tom୯st recent census flight provided evidence of 2 additional mortalities. This took the total estimated winter mortality to 23; 7 adults and 16 chicks ⥰resenting a loss of 8.5% of the record flock in the fall of 270.

Stehn said, he last 20 years, the current winter ranks as the worst in terms of mortality, ahead of 1990 when 7.5% of the Whooping cranes (11 out of 146) died at Aransas. The 3rd worst winter in 1993 showed a 4.9% loss at Aransas (7 out of 143). Mortality in the 2008-09 winter (23 birds) can be added to the 34 whooping cranes that left Aransas in the spring of 2008 and failed to return in the fall. Thus, 57 Whooping cranes have died in the last 12 months, or 21.4% of the flock of 266 present at Aransas in the spring, 2008.

Habitat use
ﲠthe first time all winter, nearly all the Whooping cranes were found in the salt marsh on the April flight,䯭 said. 襠cranes are believed to be feeding on fiddler crabs since blue crabs in the marsh ponds are still scarce due to the continuing drought. A blue crab count done on April 1st found zero crabs in the marsh.ﰾ

误ping crane locations on the flight included 2 observed at man-made fresh water sources, 2 at a game feeder, and 9 in open bay habitat. No cranes were on burned or unburned uplands. Tides were low caused by a very strong ﲴher䨡t had brought northwest winds on April 6th. Salinities remain high, measured recently at 29ppt (parts per thousand) in the refuge boat canal and 39 in the adjacent marsh. One monitoring station in San Antonio Bay has a salinity of 25ppt. The drought rated as 裥ptional튉shows no sign of ending in central and south Texas.ﰾ

楲all, these continue to be some of the worst conditions I have ever observed for the cranes at Aransas, with some birds looking thin and with disheveled plumage. The refuge is continuing its program of supplemental feeding with corn, with moderate response by the Whooping cranes. The cranes are getting somewhat of an energy boost by catching fiddler crabs just prior to migration.ﴤ>

Date: April 8, 2009 -  Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: WORRY ABOUT WHOOPERS ARTICLE Location: Main Office
In an extensive and well written article entitled, "Worry About Whoopers" that appeared in The Edmonton Journal April 5th, journalist Ed Struzik describes the recent difficulties of the Wood Buffalo-Aransas population, and also ongoing recovery efforts.

Date: April 7, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Heather Ray
Subject: CRANES HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE Location: Main Office
It's that time of year when it's difficult to keep up with the updates let alone keep track of all the cranes. There are birds still in Florida (at least five) - birds that have arrived in Wisconsin (at least 54) - and an estimated 25 birds scattered at various points in between.

The latest news from ICF's Eva Szyszkoski is that there are now two pairs confirmed incubating. These include 309* and 403, and 313* and 318. In addition to these pairs, Eva reports several others engaged in nest building activity.

Three of the four cranes that departed their Chassahowitzka NWR winter pen on March 24th are currently in a rural area between Chicago and Madison, WI. The fourth bird from this group is currently unaccounted for after it split off from its cohorts somewhere between northern Alabama and Illinois. Once we learn who this independent crane is, we'll let you know.

The other three cranes that wintered at Chassahowitzka departed on April 4th. Richard Urbanek is currently monitoring this group and reports that 803, 824* and 827 moved north into southwest Georgia, before roosting for the night in Thomas County. They stayed at this location on Sunday and resumed migration on Monday. There have been recent heavy rains in the area and there are a lot of flooded fields for them.

The seven birds that wintered at St. Marks NWR, departed on March 30th and five of these birds are currently southwest of Chicago, Illinois.  Unfortunately, 826 was recently picked up after it was reported that he had apparently been injured and unable to walk. He was transported to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne for examination, where multiple leg fractures were discovered. We're uncertain about exactly how he was injured but it is unlikely he will be returned to the population given the extent of his injuries.

The seventh crane from the St. Marks group is apparently a strong-willed and independent female who decided to split from the rest of the group. 813* was the only St. Marks bird to receive a PTT device so we can keep track of her via her satellite transmitter, and the latest data we've received indicates that she is currently in southeast Iowa.

As if all this isn't enough Patuxent Wildlife Research Center is reporting that the captive population has produced three eggs thus far.

Date:April 7, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: NESTING UNDERWAY!! Location: Main Office
And this news just inF Tracker Eva Szyszkoski confirmed the EMP's first active nest of the season at the Necedah NWR. She observed 505 and 415 incubating on a nest located on their usual territory on April 2nd.

Eva also saw the pair, 309* and 403, engaged in nest building activity. If you haven't already got your fingers crossed for a successful nesting season䯠it now!

48 of the 54 Whooping cranes now confirmed as being back in Wisconsin are on or near the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. As of the moment, not all mated pairs (10 - 11) with nesting potential have been been reported as having completed their spring migration.

Date:April 7, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: EMP MORTALITY Location: Main Office
Via an email received from Dr. Richard Urbanek this morning, we learned that a recent mortality had reduced the number of Whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP). In his message, he said that a Columbia County, WI resident had discovered the remains of DAR832* on April 3rd of last week

"The carcass was in the ditch approximately 10 feet from the edge of a road and about 50 feet from a power distribution line on the other side of the road," Urbanek said. The carcass will be forwarded to the National Wildlife Health Center for necropsy.

DAR832* had migrated north with 216, and three other 2008 Direct Autumn Release birds, namely 831, 836, and 838. They arrived at the Necedah NWR on March 22. Richard noted that by March 26th the four DAR birds had moved to Columbia County. "As of April 4th," he said, "the other DAR yearlings were still in the general area where DAR832* was killed.

With the mortality of DAR832*, the number of Whooping cranes in the EMP is now estimated to be 85; 52 males and 33 females.

Date:April 6, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
As we receive and post location data from satellite hits on PTTs as well as reports from the trackers, we want to remind everyone that you can help safeguard Whooping cranes during their migration back north from Florida to Wisconsin. When Whoopers are reported or spotted on the ground, we encourage everyone to avoid their location in order to minimize disturbance and habituation to humans.

While a few Whoopers have yet to leave Florida, ~one third of the cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population are in the flyway. Please report your sightings of Whooping cranes - in flight or on the ground - using the link to the right. The link will take you to the Whooping Crane Observation form.

The Observation form asks for your contact information; the location, date, and time of your observation; and how many Whooping cranes you saw. There is also space for you to include any other details you can offer, such as:
- the type of habitat they were in
- whether they were adult or immature birds
- what other birds, if any, were nearby
- were the Whooping cranes flying, feeding, loafing, etc
- if identifiable, the order of their colored leg bands. i.e. Left leg: Red over Green over White, Right Leg: White over Green.

Date:April 5, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Bev Paulan
Subject: NOW THE REAL WORK BEGINS Location: St, Marks, FL
Now that our 餳衶e flown the proverbial nest, the question we hear most is, 衴 are you going to do with your time off?ⲯoke and I look at each other and sigh, 衴 time off?ྗe have to be at Patuxent no later than May 1st, to be ready for the new crop of chicks. In between, we have vehicles to shuttle back to Wisconsin, and before we can do that, we have to clean up the pen and blind, finish packing up the equipment trailer and travel pen, and squeeze in one more school presentation.

Here is just a peak at what we堢een up to since the birds have left. The St. Marks cohort left on Monday and we tracked them until they got into Georgia. After that, we headed back to camp for a 塬 dinner࣯urtesy of school teacher Patti McMullen (very delicious, I might add). Then, almost by force of habit, we headed out to the blind. We walked out to the oyster bar, sans costume this time, to have a little quiet reflection and celebration of mission accomplished.

Tuesday, Brooke headed out to the pen to start tearing things down while I relinquished control to a cold that had been trying to grab on since Friday. Wednesday, it rained cats and dogs. Thursday, another day-long down pour. By the time the rain slacked off, the trail to the blind was flooded and we couldnॶen get out there. It was still flooded on Friday, so we stole the day and went kayaking. We are surrounded by rivers here and this is only the third time we have had the kayak out this season.

Yesterday, after running errands in the morning, we headed back to the blind to see if we could get out there. Luckily the water levels were such that with minimal slogging we could get through. We brought out all the pen panels and visual barriers that we had used to construct the top-netted pen and blind. We took down the decoy and the fencers, carted the hoses up into the blind for storage, and tried to organize what was left.

After a good afternoon෯rk, and being very muddy, we surveyed what was left and realized that one more morning would do it, so we headed out.

This morning, beside doing paperwork and reports, we organized the costumes for the interns, ensuring all parts were included in each costume-carrier bag. We packed the van with items for the equipment/aircraft trailer, and will be departing shortly for the three hour drive to Chassahowitzka where it is stored. At I type this, Brooke is off getting propane before we leave - it is forecast to drop back into the 30s this week.

We are looking forward to getting to Patuxent; to working with and raising the new chicks; to resuming friendships; to meeting the new interns. It is always an exciting time of the year and one that seems to go by too quickly because of how busy we are. But right now that seems a long way off because, to paraphrase Robert Frost, 堨ave many miles to go before we sleep.ﴤ>

Date:April 5, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: LAST OF CLASS OF 2008 LEAVE ON MIGRATION Location: Main Office
The last 3 juveniles in the ultralight-led Class of 2008 have begun their migration. Bev called last night to report she had learned from Dr. Richard Urbanek that the three birds that stayed behind when their four cohort mates departed March 24th, had left the Chassahowitzka pensite earlier in the day.

When Bev and Richard spoke, he had tracked them to a location ~45 miles almost due east of the town of St. Marks. If the cranes continue on a NNW heading, their flight path would take them near/over our Jefferson County stopover location. Jefferson County was our first and most northerly stopover location in Florida, and the one we used as a staging area to split the Class of 2008 into two cohorts.

803, 824* and 827 are the three birds in this group. 824*, the lone female in the group, carries a PTT, so we are hopeful of being able to track their progress.

Date:April 4, 2009Reporter: Joe Duff
Subject: ABOUT TRANSMITTERS Location: Main Office
Since we've been posting entries about picking up transmitter signals and satellite hits on PTTs, we've been getting questions about the types of transmitters the birds have been fitted with. In the entry below, Joe describes the two types of transmitters that are used, and why all the birds are not fitted with PTTs.

Each year, after they arrive in Florida, the young birds are fitted with their permanent VHS transmitters. The signal from these battery-powered units is transmitted in a straight line, and works in what is referred to as 鮥-of-sight쯰>

Obstacles between the transmitter and the receiver block the signal, as does the curvature of the earth, so reception is limited to a few miles. This is especially true if the bird is standing in water deep enough to submerge the leg mounted antenna. Also, it takes practice and talent to stay in range of moving birds while negotiating the tracking van in traffic and obeying most of the rules of the road.

If the bird is flying, the tracking distance is greatly increased, and if both the bird and the tracker are airborne, it may extend even up to 100 mile in perfect conditions.

As a backup in case they are lost completely, a few birds are fitted with PTTs (Platform Terminal Transmitters). These transmitters send out a signal to an orbiting satellite, but the technology is old and not that reliable.

Firstly, the transmitter on the bird must send out a signal strong enough to be heard a couple of hundred miles up. Then the satellite must be overhead in order to hear it. While itడssing over China, the transmitter on the bird is still pinging away using up precious battery life. When it is in view, it must pick up a number of hits from the transmitter in order to triangulate the location, and the accuracy of that information depends on how good those hits are.

Each PTT has a preset duty cycle to conserve batteries. In other words, they can be set to work only during the migration seasons. The information is collected by NASA and sent by email to the trackers. Each leg mounted unit costs around $3000 and there is a $1000 fee per year to report on each one, so only a few birds are fitted with PTTe try to pick birds that we think will remain part of a group, or that are leaders. That way when we find one, there is a good chance it wonࢥ alone.

Date:April 3, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: MORE MIGRATION NEWS Location: Main Office
According to ICF's Sara Zimorski's latest report, 35 of the 45 Whooping cranes back in Wisconsin so far are on or near the Necedah NWR. Seven of the population's breeding pairs are already on their respective territories.

ICF's latest report noted that 727* was confirmed as having arrived in Wisconsin March 28 - making us realize that we had incorrectly typed Winnebago Co. IL instead of WI in our last posting. Sara also pointed out that 727* being back in Wisconsin is especially good news as she summered in Illinois and Indiana last season and didn't make the complete trip.

Date:April 3, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: ON THE MOVE Location: Main Office
An unconfirmed sighting placed 727* in Winnebago Co. IL as of March 24. She was believed to have last been in Stark Co. IN as of March 7.

A satellite hit on the PTT of 813* revealed her most recent location as ~25 miles from our Union Co. KY stopover site! 813* is the only juvenile in the Class of 2008 St. Marks cohort outfitted with a PTT. While we hope it is the case, we have no way of knowing if all 7 in this group that departed St. Marks at the same are time still together.

Also appearing to be right on track is 818*. The hit showed a location ~150 miles southeast of Necedah. 818* is one of the four birds that left the Chass pensite together on March 24. Her previous PTT reading placed her just southwest of Chicago. One other Chass cohort bird, 824*, carries a PTT, but at last report she had yet to depart the pensite.

Three of the five 2008 DAR birds have PTTs. They are 831, 832* (who arrived at Necedah in the company of 216 and D838*) and D837* who as of March 24 was still in the Paynes Prairie Florida area.

Date:April 3, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: NEW REPORT AVAILABLE Location: Main Office
"Birds of Conservation Concern 2008", a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service publication produced by the Migratory Bird Management Division was recently made available to the public.

Ninety-one pages long, the document identifies the species and populations of both migratory and non-migratory birds which are most in need of conservation action.

The list is a result of amendments made by Congress to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act in 1988. Included in these was a direction to FWS to, "...identify species, subspecies, and populations of all migratory nongame birds that, without additional conservation actions, are likely to become candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act of 1973."

The document can be read online or download as a .pdf. Link to Birds of Conservation Concern 2008

Date:April 2, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: Craniacs Rule! Location: Main Office
MileMaker is off to a running start. Here it is just the second day of the 2009 campaign and already 105 miles have been sponsored. It can't be anything but a good sign. Maybe our dream of having all 1,285 MileMaker miles sponsored before we leave on migration this fall isn't such a wild notion after all!

We came across a quotation that seems apropos of our biggest dream - the success of the Whooping crane reintroduction project.

"The path to a dream is paved with sacrifices and lined with determination. And although it has many stumbling blocks along the way and may go in more than one direction, it is marked with faith. It is traveled by belief in you and others but requires courage, persistence and hard work. It is conquered with a willingness to face challenges and take chances, to fail and try again and again. Along the way, you may have to confront doubts, setbacks, and unfairness. But when the path comes to an end, you will find that there is no greater joy than having made your dream come true."
 - Author Unknown

Date:April 2, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Excerpt from April's Birding Community E-bulletin

In early March, the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved the purchase of wetland and grassland habitat that will be added to seven units of the National Wildlife Refuge System to secure breeding, resting and feeding habitat. These acquisitions are funded mostly with proceeds from sales of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, otherwise known as the Duck Stamps.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission oversees the use of Stamp funds for the purchase and lease of these wetland and grassland habitats for the Refuge System. The commission includes Senators Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Representative John Dingell of Michigan and Rob Wittman of Virginia, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

These recent Refuge System acquisitions include:
- Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Camden, Gates and Pasquotank Counties, NC - acquisition of 51 acres.
- San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, Brazoria and Matagorda Counties, TX - acquisition of 1,454 acres.
- Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge, Pondicherry Divisions, Coos County, NH - acquisition of 80 acres.
- Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge, Avoyelles and Rapides Parishes, LA - acquisition of 265 acres.
- Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Wapato Lake Unit, Washington and Yamhill Counties, OR - acquisition of 225 acres.
- North Central Valley Wildlife Management Area, Colusa County, CA - acquisition of 388 acres.
- Grasslands Wildlife Management Area, Merced County, CA - a permanent easement of 1,077 acres.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the 1934 amendment to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that created what we know today as the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.

Click the link to access an archive of past E-bulletins on the website of the National Wildlife Refuge Association.

Date:April 1, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Thanks to Lori Steckervetz and Beth Kienbaum with Wisconsin DNR for sending along the following Whooping crane locations picked up by the satellite from the birds' PTTs (Platform Terminal Transmitter).

716*    Juneau Co, WI - last detected in DeKalb Co. IL on March 21
717*    Breckinridge Co, KY - last detected in Hernando Co. FL on March 21
D739*  Wood Co, WI - last detected in Marshall Co. KY on March 22
D746*  Juneau Co, WI - last detected in Vermillion Co. IN on March 21
813      Chambers Co, AL - left St. Marks Refuge on March 30

Date:April 1, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: '08 CRANES ENROUTELocation: Main Office
The most recent satellite transmitter data indicates that Chass cohort bird 818, one of the four birds that left the pensite together on Tuesday the 24th, has made it as far as southwest of Chicago. Also, the signal of 813, one of the group of seven St. Marks cohort birds that left that refuge on Monday the 30th, was southeast of Birmingham as of last evening.

Both birds' enroute locations appear to be less than 25 miles off the flight path we used to lead them south.

Date:March 31, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Bev Paulan
Subject: Saying GoodbyeLocation: St. Marks, FL
There is a line near the end of Wizard of Oz, that when he is saying goodbye to Dorothy, the Tin Man says ﷠I know I have a heart because it͊ breaking.ᮤ that line came to mind yesterday when the chicks said their final good-bye to me.

We have been watching these birds very closely for the last week. I felt sure they would leave last week and have not wanted to miss their departure, so I have spent most all of every day in the blind. It has been a real treat, just sitting and observing.

Most of the time it was rather uneventful, the chicks doing nothing but loafing. They would spend the majority of the day in the pen, eating, preening and resting - always in that order. The action would always be in the morning. and by noon they would pretty much be settled in until their pre-roost burst of activity.

I witnessed the birds being birds. They foraged in the mud and the ponds, eating snails, crabs and bait fish. I watched them intermingle with egrets, both Greats and Snowys. I watched them chase off Wood storks and eagles; puzzle over cattle egrets on the top net; and, playfully charge at the shorebirds, seemingly just to see them scatter.

We hunkered down in the blind during a severe thunderstorm, just to make sure they were okay, only to realize, that for them, it was no big deal. We worried over the high tides that washed the entire area in salt water. When the rains came, we were more than worried, and as we waded through knee deep water to get to the pen, our only thought was - where would they roost? But just like chasing off the eagles, and playing in the thunderstorm, they allayed our worries and found the perfect spot to roost all on their own, out in the open, away from the trees and in about 8 inches of water. A roosting marsh birdడradise. Our worry was for naught.

Every morning we rose just a little earlier in order to get to the blind to see the birds before they left, even if only for an hourযraging on the beach. Yesterday, we arrived at the parking area earlier than ever. But not quite early enough.

Because the rains had cleared everything out so nicely there were no clouds blocking the sunrise, and the sky brightened earlier than ever before. As we walked down the path to the blind, we heard them call, as they always do prior to flying, and we knew they wouldnࢥ in the pen when we arrived at the blind. I hurried the rest of the way and sprinted up the stairs to see if I could spot them out on the flats. And there they were, in their usual spot, foraging away.

As we stood for awhile watching they flew to another spot to forage, so we donned our costumes to begin our morning routine. As we walked to the pen, the birds over flew us - - and kept going. I watched them fly eastward and I thought they were going out to the bay. I continued into the pen, heading towards the oyster bar to get the salinity readings and water depth. Brooke walked to the feeders on the opposite side of the pen.

As we trudged through the mud, the chicks flew into the pen, first four, then the other three landing between Brooke and I. As I stood watching them, they all walked over to me and started calling. All seven birds gathered around me and just called and called for what seemed like minutes, but what probably was only a moment.

As I looked over 頢abiesᮤ heard their calls I was overwhelmed with emotion. I just knew that this was their good-bye and that I would never have a chance to be this close to these birds again. I looked from one to the other, marveling at how they had grown from the cute fuzzy brown chicks they were, to these magnificent white birds in such a short time.

My stoicism broke, and as I silently said good-bye to each one by name and wished them god speed, the tears started pouring down my face.

After their calls quieted they silently walked away, turning one by one and marching off to the feeders for a snack. We finished our duties and walked back to the blind to continue our vigil. As the morning progressed, we could tell that this would be the day. The winds were light, the sky crystal clear and the birds very restless. They would feed a little, preen a little, then go fly. Their sorties would get longer, their calls louder and the intervals between flights shorter.

We watched a large flock of 100+ white pelicans thermaling over the bay, and I willed the chicks to look that way so they could see what they had to do. At about 11:05, they started giving the preflight call and flapping their wings. Soon they were all running across the pen to become airborne.

All seven circled the pen and flew around the entire area before we lost sight of them. We quickly turned the receiver on and heard the beeps of their transmitters plainly. The tones soon became quieter, and try as hard as we could, we could not catch a glimpse of them from the blind. I ran out into the open and started to look about.

We heard them calling faintly and as I glanced up, I beheld a sight that rendered me speechless -for a moment anyway. I shouted up to the blind, ﭥ quick, you wonࢥlieve how high they are.ⲯoke came running out to join me, and as we gazed skyward, we witnessed our chicks thermaling for the first time in their young lives. They circled higher and higher, were even joined by a white pelican for a couple of circles.

Then they disappeared. Just like that.

They had turned north, continuing their climb to vanish in the turquoise blue sky. The receiver became quieter, then went silent. And as I stood there, still in awe, I knew what the Tin Man meant.

Date:March 31, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: More Lessons from the CranesLocation: Main Office
The piece below was authored by talented writer Christine Barnes. Hailing from Northfield, VT, Christine, and husband Gordon, donate their talents and volunteer several months of their time to helping with various projects at the St. Marks refuge.

Home of the Brave - A Leap of Faith by Christine Barnes
It is nearly April. Last week, four Whooping cranes from another refuge [Chassahowitzka], part of the Class of 2008, left on their migration north to Wisconsin. A growing anticipation grips those of us who have watched this recovery project at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The birds remained in a secluded location, away from human contact, so we cornered the two Operation Migration staff at every opportunity 请 did the 餳䯠in the wind today? Are they restless? Do you see any indication that they are getting ready to leave?

As the impending departure became more certain, there were pilgrimages to the blind to say goodbye. This camouflaged structure, set into the palms, is located at the edge of the marsh about 800 yards from the cranes८. It was a thrilling experience to bear witness to the reintroduction of these birds into the wild. Some nights, after an eveningডrewell, we walked out of the wetland in darkness. On the remote and primitive forest path, our only companions were the soft light from small headlamps, our thoughts, and the jeweled eyes of multitudes of spiders along the way.

There were signs. Last week the cranes, nearly in adult plumage, stood together, heads cocked sideways looking up at the sky, calling, calling, calling. Days ago, six inches of driving rain and wind pelted the wetland. The crane pen flooded, and for the first time, the birds were allowed to roost outside the enclosure, and independent of staff assistance, they selected a safe area to do so. More recently, in a nearby pool, they spent their first night away from a surrogate crane that stands on a small oyster bar constructed by refuge staff and volunteers last fall.

Monday, March 30th: The morning is young. It is sunny and cool, with an early north wind that is expected to shift to southeast. A coyote calls in the distance. The cranes stroll around inside the roofless pen, seemingly content. They preen, snack on hapless crabs, playfully display and leap around with their buddies. But then, the loafing stops. Itथadly serious out there.

They call, and in a brief minute the seven birds are airborne, sweeping the wetland in a wide circle, and heading northeast. The wind kicks up, and suddenly, they catch a thermal. They soar overhead, higher than they堢een since they came in January. They bank south toward the bay, fly out over the water, and disappear from view. The radio receiver beeps more faintly. We hold our collective breath, and watch as the seven sweep back up over the horizon, bugling a sound we will never forget, that can only belong to a wild Whooping Crane. Altitude dropping, landing gear in place, the birds drift gracefully back into the pen. It is 10:15 am.

A couple of us dry a tear or two 䨩s sight is very stirring ᮤ shift from one foot to another as we watch another tedious round of snacking, preening, and loafing. Six White Ibis fly in to feed in one of the pools. Yellowthroats, Red-winged Blackbirds and Clapper Rails call around the marsh.

Then, the posturing, the call, first from one, then another. We wait. The anticipation spills over to impatience, and there೯me sputtering and pacing. One of us jokes, 襹 know we堡ll in here, and one crane just said to the other, 幬 watch this!ﰾ

But itथadly serious again. The seven take off, and in a heartbeat, find the thermal. It carries them east, then north, as they kettle higher and higher. We dash out of the blind into the marsh, where even our binoculars begin to fail us. For a while, they are joined by a lone pelican, but the path of the cranes is clearly north now, and their companion soon abandons the journey. The receiver in the blind becomes more and more faint, whispers, then is silent. It is 11:15 am.

It is over. And itવst beginning. Itࡠleap of faith in a valiant effort to save a species, and a brave cohort of young cranes who fly because something wild inside them tells them itഩme to go. The story has a new chapter, yet to be written.

Date:March 31, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: Study Shows Widespread Declines in Bird Populations Location: Main Office
The following is the content of a recent press release by Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today released the first ever comprehensive report on bird populations in the United States, showing that nearly a third of the nationะ0 bird species are endangered, threatened or in significant decline due to habitat loss, invasive species, and other threats.

At the same time, the report highlights examples, including many species of waterfowl, where habitat restoration and conservation have reversed previous declines, offering hope that it is not too late to take action to save declining populations.

峴 as they were when Rachel Carson published Silent Spring nearly 50 years ago, birds today are a bellwether of the health of land, water and ecosystems,㡬azar said. ⯭ shorebirds in New England to warblers in Michigan to songbirds in Hawaii, we are seeing disturbing downward population trends that should set off environmental alarm bells. We must work together now to ensure we never hear the deafening silence in our forests, fields and backyards that Rachel Carson warned us about.ﰾ

The report, The U.S. State of the Birds, synthesizes data from three long-running bird censuses conducted by thousands of citizen scientists and professional biologists. In particular, it calls attention to the crisis in Hawaii, where more birds are in danger of extinction than anywhere else in the United States. In addition, the report indicates a 40 percent decline in grassland birds over the past 40 years, a 30 percent decline in birds of arid-lands, and high concern for many coastal shorebirds. Furthermore, 39 percent of species dependent on U.S. oceans have declined.

However, the report also reveals convincing evidence that birds can respond quickly and positively to conservation action. The data show dramatic increases in many wetland birds such as pelicans, herons, egrets, osprey, and ducks, a testament to numerous cooperative conservation partnerships that have resulted in protection, enhancement and management of more than 30 million wetland acres.

襳e results emphasize that investment in wetlands conservation has paid huge dividends,㡩d Kenneth Rosenberg, director of Conservation Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. ﷠we need to invest similarly in other neglected habitats where birds are undergoing the steepest declines.ﰾ

ᢩtats such as those in Hawaii are on the verge of losing entire suites of unique bird species,㡩d Dr. David Pashley, American Bird Conservancy֩ce President for Conservation Programs. ddition to habitat loss, birds also face many other man-made threats such as pesticides, predation by cats, and collisions with windows, towers and buildings. By solving these challenges we can preserve a growing economic engine 䨥 popular pastime of birdwatching that involves millions of Americans ᮤ improve our quality of life.ﰾ

詬e some bird species are holding their own, many once common species are declining sharply in population. Habitat availability and quality is the key to healthy, thriving bird populations,㡩d Dave Mehlman of The Nature Conservancy.
Surveys conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey, including the annual Breeding Bird Survey, combined with data gathered through volunteer citizen science program such as the National Audubon Societyèristmas Bird Count, show once abundant birds such as the northern bobwhite and marbled murrelet are declining significantly. The possibility of extinction also remains a cold reality for many endangered birds.

鴩zen science plays a critical role in monitoring and understanding the threats to these birds and their habitats, and only citizen involvement can help address them,㡩d National Audubon Society©rd Conservation Director, Greg Butcher. ﮳ervation action can only make a real difference when concerned people support the kind of vital habitat restoration and protection measures this report explores.ﰾ

Birds are beautiful, as well as economically important and a priceless part of America's natural heritage. Birds are also highly sensitive to environmental pollution and climate change, making them critical indicators of the health of the environment on which we all depend.

The United States is home to a tremendous diversity of native birds, with more than 800 species inhabiting terrestrial, coastal, and ocean habitats, including Hawaii. Among these species, 67 are Federally-listed as endangered or threatened. In addition, more than 184 species are designated as species of conservation concern due to a small distribution, high-level of threats, or declining populations.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinated creation of the new report as part of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative, which includes partners from American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Date:March 30, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:LATE, BREAKING NEWSLocation: Main Office
All seven juveniles in the St. Marks cohort from the Class of 2008 have self-initiated their migration north!

We don't have all the details as yet, but they left sometime this morning - we believe as a group. Second hand reports say that they took to the air, immediately found a thermal and were gone. Bev and Brooke jumped in the tracking van to see if they could track them for a while but they lost signal at some point. Only one of the birds in the cohort, 813, is wearing a PTT (platform terminal transmitter).

Now we, like you, will wait anxiously for an update from Bev and Brooke.

Date:March 30, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:HELP MAKE OUR DREAM COME TRUELocation: Main Office
We are counting down the days to the launch of the MileMaker 2009. There are just two days left before we kick off the campaign for the coming migration season.

April 1st, in conjunction with our new fiscal year, the the MileMaker sponsorship sign-up pages will appear on the  website. Shortly thereafter you will be able to track the miles of 2009's journey that have been sponsored via a link from this page to the migration route map.

Unlike most things these days, MileMaker sponsorships are less this year than last. (Why? See our Field Journal entry below for March 8th.) For 2009, a one mile sponsorship will be $198; a half mile will be $99; and a quarter mile $49.50.

In addition to securing your MileMaker sponsorship via the website using PayPal, you can also simply call the office toll free at 800-675-2618, or mail your check to our Canadian or U.S. address.
     639-1623 Military Road, Niagara Falls, NY  14304-1745
     174 Mary Street, Port Perry, ON  L9L 1B7

As the end of the 2008 migration approached with 100 miles still unsponsored, Illinois supporter, Denice Steinmann, came to the rescue with a challenge match. Thanks to Denice's generosity and that of those who took up her challenge, MileMaker 2008 was fully subscribed.

Now WE have a challenge for all of you. Our dream is for MileMaker 2009 to be fully subscribed before we depart on migration this fall with the Class of 2009. You know the saying...if you are going to dream you might as well dream big. The question is, Craniacs, are you up for the challenge? Will you help to make our dream come true?

Date:March 29, 2009Reporter: Bev Paulan
As team leaders here at St. Mark젂rooke and I helped to draft the protocol for the monitoring of the chicks this winter. Our primary concern, and rightly so, was ensuring an sound plan for dealing with severe weather.

The biggest plus in our favor is the fact that we are here at St. Marke have the luxury of 24/7 all-weather access to the pen and the birds. No matter how bad the weather gets, we can get out there thanks to the hard work of the inmate crew working under the supervision of refuge staff. They carved out a beautiful path through the forest that, no matter how much rain we get, is easy to walk or even drive down if necessary.

We had a dearth of rain this season and the ponds in the pen were suffering. We have only had two rain events since we have been here, up until yesterday that is. We have been hoping for rain to replenish the ponds, tamp down the dust, and freshen things up. But we have not been hoping for storms.

The protocol calls for us to have a weather radio in the camper, in the blind, and in the vehicle we drive. If we feel there is potential for severe the weather, each radio is set to the alarm mode to give us advance warning. Here at St. Marks we also have the luxury of having our satellite receiver for internet connection which gives us instant access to weather radar.

As many of you know, my background is in aviation. I spent 14 years as a commercial pilot and flight instructor and became very good at interpreting weather charts. I had to. My very life, and that of my passengers and students, depended on it. So I still am in the habit of checking the weather first thing in the morning - rain or shine.

Down here in Florida as the season changes, the weather does too, and sometimes rapidly, so I don଩ke to trust the blue sky in the morning. It can quickly turn dark and mean. This morning was no different. Right out of bed I turned on the computer to check the forecast and the radar. There was definitely weather brewing, and a line of storms well to our west indicated we could get hit sometime around noon. We turned the weather radios to alarm mode and headed out for our morning pen check.

The weather remained dry, and after observing the birds we knew they weren৯ing anywhere, so we left the pen to run some much needed errands. We timed it perfectly and were headed back out to the blind as the alarms started blaring.

The rain started, gently at first, but by the time we got to the blind the sky was darker, the winds were blowing a little harder, and it was raining heavier. We climbed the stairs to the blind and unlocked the doors, uncertain what the birds would be doing. Much to our delight, they were poking away at the mud in the pen, foraging and seemingly quite content in the rain. I thought to myself that it should be no surprise, that after all these are birds of the wetland, so they ought to be happy in the 崠land튉that their pen now was.

After watching them for awhile, and once the weather moved on, and assured that they were safe, we headed back to camp. Once there we found out that for the third time this season, the heaviest, nastiest weather stayed north of the pensite affecting the towns just to the north.

The protocol we helped create worked perfectly. We implemented the plan and were at the blind during the worst of the weather, again due in large part to the crew that built the trail. We had plenty of warning and everything worked out beautifully. Not to mention that the frogs are once again singing and we are no longer constantly breathing dust.

Date:March 27, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:MORE VIDEO Location: Main Office
Hmmmm, what they won't get up to when they think no one's looking. Another video clip compliments of Barry and Haley featuring 'reality stars'  703, 707, 739* and 742*.

Date:March 27, 2009 - Entry 1Reporter: Bev Paulan
Subject: Any Day NowLocation: St. Marks, FL
Another day and the birds are still here. Every morning when we walk to the blind, we are never sure whether or not the birds will be there. This morning as we moved through the pre-dawn gloom, we heard the birds calling, as if to say, "We堳till here, we havenଥft yet."

When we arrived at the blind, we saw four of the chicks on the salt flats behind the pen. After quickly scanning with the scope, the other three were not to be seen. Knowing that four of the Chass birds had left, I wondered if three of ours had flown the coop already.

I quickly turned on the receiver and heard the beeps; the signal not that much quieter than the four birds which I could see. As soon as I turned the receiver off, the three came flying in and landed with their cohort mates.

We went about our morning duties, noting that because of the higher tides this week, there was more water in the ponds. This was a good thing. It has been so dry here that the ponds in the pen were rapidly losing water. The oyster bar the birds roosted on was mostly exposed, but the birds were smart enough to keep moving further into the pond, to ensure they roosted in the proper depth. There was enough water on the flats, and the birds were foraging without going out to the beach. In fact, as I walked the perimeter fence, I almost stepped on a blue crab. The chicks had also found some crabs and were soon pecking away.

The morning passed quickly with the birds spending more time out of the pen than I had ever observed. They also spent the better part of an hour vocalizing. They just called, and called, seemingly to just hear themselves talk. The voices ranged from the basso profundo of 812, to the contralto peeps of 828. It was an absolute delight to hear this, and is a definite change in behavior. Even last week, we heard them vocalizing only either when flying, or in response to the brood call played over the loud hailer. This is one of the things we have been watching for. Again, signifying any day now, they might be leaving.

I have been watching the weather very carefully for the last week, checking the prog charts, seeing where the highs and lows and the fronts are. And I have been watching the winds as closely as I do on migration. All of this to try and figure out that magic moment when they will leave.

I really thought they would go this week. The winds were out of the south, with skies clear Monday and Tuesday. A high to the east and a low to the west added to the southerly flow. But the birds are the masters of their own fate and will leave when they get good and ready.

Did I mention they are smarter than I am, too? Today we had very heavy rains. This system has actually been up in Alabama since yesterday. Animals have an inherent sense of the weather and perhaps they knew they couldn͊ get very far if they did go.

Our next weather window looks likely to be Monday. (Migration d骠 vu.) Rain is supposed to persist through the weekend - and we desperately need it here - with winds from the wrong direction. Monday however, is supposed to be sunny with winds out of the south and mild temps. In fact, it looks so good, I would want to fly too if I could.

So we wait some more. And I will keep answering the question, ᶥ they left yet?穴h, ⭠sure it will be any day now."

Date:March 25, 2009Reporter: Bev Paulan
Subject:A DAY IN THE LIFELocation: Main Office
As the end of our stewardship of the Class of 2008 nears I am spending more time in the blind. It is a combination of not wanting to let go, wanting to observe any behavior changes, and wanting to be there when they do leave.

Yesterday morning started very early. It was still dark with no sign of the soon-to-rise sun when we headed out to the beach. No, we weren৯ing surfing, we were heading out to the mudflats to see if we could see the chicks fly out of the pen. Once in place we waited for the sun to rise, peering into the brightening morning sky. As we stood there the chicks appeared out of the gloom, settling onto the mud flat to forage for crabs.

After watching for awhile, we headed to the pen for our morning chores. I say chores, but it is more an exercise in zen. Moving quietly in our costumes, moving slowly and with purpose, we go about our duties filling feeders, cleaning water guzzlers. The air, filled with the buzz of insects and birdsong adds to the very serene feeling.

The chicks returned to the pen and followed us around. We brought in some crabs for some practice for the chicks and soon all were pecking at the shells. After ⡢ practice祠left the pen and headed back to the blind. I stayed for the morning shift, agreeing to meet Brooke back at the parking area at 12:30 in time for our bi-weekly Bird Team teleconference call.

The morning was delightful. The chicks flew back and forth a few times before settling in the pen for the morning. As I watched the chicks forage, preen, and eat, everything seemed to be at peace. Suddenly all the chicks gathered together and stared skyward. Soon, a shape appeared and grew larger circling over the pen. The shape morphed into a juvenile bald eagle and all the chicks kept a keen watch on the airborne predator.

A common question we get is whether or not an eagle is a threat to the chicks. I answer that a Golden eagle definitely is, but a Bald usually not. A Bald eagle can take a Sandhill crane, but even at less than a year old, our Whooper babies are much larger. It would be unusual for a Bald to take one.

After the eagle flew by, peace returned to the pen only to be interrupted about half an hour later. This time, two juvenile eagles circled over the pen descending as they circled. I could hardly believe my eyes, when both of them actually landed in the pen several yards apart.

I watched breathlessly, not sure what to expect. I should have had more confidence in my ᢩes䨯ugh. In the blink of an eye they were chasing first one, then the other eagle out of the pen. The second bird circled back and dive bombed the pond, in what I came to realize was nothing more than a fishing expedition. This was not acceptable to the chicks and they all took wing chasing after the eagle. This time, the eagle flew off not to be seen again.

Once again peace returned, and the chicks resumed preening, foraging, etc. Another half hour passed and again, a shape appeared in the sky causing the chicks once again to gather together (safety in numbers). This time it was an adult eagle who flew over and kept going, only to land in a tree looking out over the bay about a quarter mile from the pen.

The chicks again settled into their routine and soon were hock sitting, or standing on one leg exhibiting a relaxed posture. I also relaxed, very happy to see that they can take care of themselves. I am now a little bit more confident that they will be okay on their northward migration. I left the blind, anxious to return after the team call. Who knows what the afternoon would hold.

Date:March 24, 2009 - Entry 3Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:2008 JUVENILES ENROUTE ARE...Location: Main Office
Bev and Brooke advise that the three Chass cohort youngsters yet to leave are 803, 824, and 827. That means that 804, 814, 818*, and 819 are the four that have left Florida for the journey back to Wisconsin.

Date:March 24 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Bev and Brooke called to let us know they had heard that at least four of the juveniles in Chass cohort from the ultralight-led Class of 2008 have departed on their migration north. One of the trackers is trying to track them. We will keep you posted on more news as it comes in.

Bev said that none of the St. Marks' cohort birds had left as yet although there have been some behavioral changes. She said they are flying in and out of the pen and staying out longer than in the past. When they returned to the pen this morning, Bev who was hidden in the blind, watched as they called, and called, and called.

With the current winds out of the SW expected to switch around to the north as the result of an approaching cold front, Bev speculated that if the St. Marks birds didn't leave within a day or so, that they would likely stay in place until weather and wind conditions again become favorable.

Date:March 24, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
In their report as of March 21st, trackers estimated that approximately 27 to 30 of the 86 Whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population had completed their migration to Wisconsin. As of that date, none of the 14 juveniles in the Class of 2008 had yet left their wintering locations. (7 at St. Marks NWR and 7 at Chassahowitzka NWR)

In the report below, * = female, D = Direct Autumn Release; NFT = non-functional transmitter.

In Wisconsin �ration Complete
211 & 217*, 213 & 218*
216, DARs 831, 832*, and 838* (The presence of D836 which was part of this migration group has not yet been confirmed.)
307, 317 & 303*NFT, 309* & 403, 310 & W601*, 318 & 313*,
401 & 508*, 402, 408 & 519*NFT,
511 (possible signal of 511 detected Necedah NWR Mar. 23), 514, D528*NFT,
710, 722*
A lone crane reported on the territory of 416NFT and mate 209* (dead) is presumed to be 416. He was last observed at Necedah October 10, 2008.

On Migration - Indiana
107* NFT last reported in Jasper County ~ March 15
212 & 419* last reported in Greene County March 21
727* believed to have been in Stark County March 7
316NFT last reported in Greene County March 15
412, D746* last detected in Vermillion County March 21
505 & 415*NFT last reported in White County March 13
D627, D628 last reported in Porter County March 22

On Migration 鬬inois
311 & 312* last detected in flight over Vermilion County March 21
716*, 724 (716* but not 724 was detected in DeKalb County March 21)

On Migration 륮tucky
703, 707, D739* D742* PTT readings for D739* indicated location as Marshall County March 22

512, 706, 709, 712, 713, 717*, 726*, 733, D837

105 & 501*, 506, D737

Current Status/Location Undetermined
810 last recorded in Alachua County, FL Jan. 26. Suspected mortality.
520* began migration from Taylor County, FL ~ Feb. 19-25. No subsequent reports.
D527* and D533* last reported in Hardin County, KY Mar. 1.
509 left Lake County, FL on migration March 18

Long-term Missing (More Than 90 Days)
205NFT last confirmed at Necedah Oct. 16, 2007.
D744* last detected in Paulding County, OH Nov. 18, 2008
420*NFT last confirmed in Meigs County, TN Dec. 19, 2008
516 last confirmed in Marion County, FL Dec. 22, 2008

Winter Monitoring Report- Chassahowitzka NWR
Water Levels (measured at dusk March 8 - 21)
Center of the oyster bar: varied from 0 to 23 inches
Deep end: varied from 3 to 29 inches
Highest recorded tide was 23 inches on the center of the oyster bar on March 15th PM (= 48 inches on gauge).
26-28 parts per thousand.
Roosting / Movements
The Chass Monitoring team reported that the, 嶥niles roosted on flooded shore near the constructed oyster bar on 15 March, flooded shore SW of the divider fence on 13-14 and 16-19 March, on the oyster bar on 8-12 and 20 March, and in the roost area in the old part of the pen on 21 March. All birds roosted in the pen each night with no intervention by costumed caretakers. Birds engaged in evening pre-roost flights on 18, 19, and 21 March.Ⲿ Maturation
827 attained his adult voice, leaving 819 as the only juvenile still retaining a chick voice.
Predator / Human Disturbance
No bobcat sign was observed at the pensite. : No unauthorized persons were observed within the restricted access area surrounding the pen.

Winter Monitoring Report - St. Marks NWR
Water Levels
Water levels gradually decreased 4.5 inches from the beginning to the end of the report period.
16-20 parts per thousand
Roosting / Movements
OMͯnitoring Team reported that, 쬠birds roosted on the constructed oyster bar each night. On 7 nights a handler remained until the birds were settled, and on the other 7 nights the birds initiated roosting alone. The birds were flushed back into the pen after they landed outside following a sunset flight on 17 March; otherwise, no intervention occurred.
All birds had acquired adult voice by the beginning of the report period.
Predator / Human Disturbance
No predator sign was observed. No unauthorized persons were observed within the restricted access area surrounding the pen.

This report was compiled from data provided by WCEPԲacking and Winter Monitoring Teams.

Date:March 23, 2009Reporter: Bev Paulan
Subject: Back to the PenLocation: St. Marks, FL
Our nightly routine has changed a little bit since we arrived here at St. Markfter the chicks were released from the top netted pen Brooke would walk them to the oyster bar every evening to teach them where to roost. He did this for three nights before he tried leaving them alone.

For the next two weeks the chicks walked themselves to the oyster bar each and every night like clockwork. They stood where they were supposed to and after preening, settled right down. On the 15th night, they left the pen and would not return, thus requiring us to spend the night with them.

So for the next few weeks, we spent the evening with them on the oyster bar trying to get them settled for the night. Once they did, we would sneak out and leave them until morning. We would try, on occasion, to leave them alone, but they would always fly out of the pen and we would have to round them up and escort them back to bed. (I did this once to my father and ended up with the spanking of my life.)

This last week we have been leaving them to roost on their own. They have their routine, which consists of flying out of the pen right at sunset, flying a few circuits around the pensite, and landing back in the pen and roosting shortly thereafter. One of the things we have been told to watch for - indicating they are getting close to heading north, is more restlessness around roost time. This would consist of longer flights, further flights and generally more poking around.

This past Tuesday the birds flew at the usual time - right at sunset 崠 kept flying around for a very long 10 minutes. This was their longest flight to date. I was beginning to think that they would never land, but eventually they did. Just not in the pen. They landed in the same spot where we had to spend the night with them. This time we had them figured out and were able to use the swamp monster to flush them back into the pen.

Every time they fly, they fly as a group. Always the seven. The only time it is ever less than that is when they are on their way back in and one or two land and the others decide to do a go-around of one more circuit before they land. Last night, however, only 6 of the birds flew. 826 was in the feed shelter having his pre-roost snack, when all the others took off. They flew a few circuits and headed back to the pen. 826, seeing them getting closer, took to the wing to join them, only to have them land in the pen. His flight for the evening consisted of approximately 50 feet across the pond.

Two of the birds kept going. 812 and 813 flew east. I thought they would just turn and do a circuit, but they kept going. And going. And going until they were out of sight. I started to scramble for the loud hailer when I heard an even better call. The chicks in the pen were calling to their unseen comrades.

They kept calling until the wayward two reappeared. I sighed a loud sigh of relief - until the two disappeared again. Then, more calling ensued until I, and the pen bound chicks, saw their mates again. One more circuit and one more round of calling and the two finally landed in the pen. What came next was much jumping and dancing襠typical crane greeting.

Roosting was typical after the flight, everyone headed to the oyster bar and began preening. However, in the blind, I sat deep in thought: the chicks calling and the extra flying left me realizing that the time is near for them to head north.....and for me to say goodbye.

Date:March 22, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:WHOOPING CRANE FIXLocation: Main Office
If like me, you could use a Whooping crane 'fix' I can tell you where to get one. Barry and Haley from Georgia captured some remarkable footage of 703, 707, D739*, D742*. The four 2007 birds found a spot to their liking in southern Georgia. They spent quite a lengthy time there, all the while carefully checked on by Barry and Sue. To get your Whooper fix, click the link and take a look at Barry and Haley's Dance For Joy video.

Our thanks to these new Craniacs for their guardianship of our wonderful Whoopers and for sharing their viewing experience with us all.

Date:March 22, 2009Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:OM'S WEBSITE GETTING A MAKEOVERLocation: Main Office
In the not too distant future you젮otice a difference when you land on OM෥bsite - a new look and re-organized web pages.

Over the past few years we堤abbled at updating and re-vamping our website whenever we could snatch some time. Thankfully, since the fall of 2008 we've had a big boost. We have been taking advantage of some professional assistance - the majority of which comes to us pro bono - from a web company called Tiny Planet, a Toronto based consulting and custom development company. Thanks to Tiny Planet's efforts, we are hopeful of being able to launch our re-vamped website in the near future.

Many things have changed since Operation Migration first launched its website. In the intervening years, technology has developed by leaps and bounds. With our limited human and financial resources we needed to take advantage of the advances that new technology offers.

We also now know a lot more about what you, our web audience, enjoys and prefers. We have taken the numerous comments and suggestions you have made over time into consideration, and we think you will appreciate the resulting modifications.

Our goal is to deliver an equally good-looking, easier to read, and more user friendly site. Although we may still have some tweaking to do once the makeover is complete and the re-vamped website is launched, we hope you will appreciate our efforts to ensure our site remains a favorite, and your visit is a pleasurable experience.



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