Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Bill Lishman, Bill Lishman, Bill Lishman, Bill Lishman, Bill Lishman, Joe Duff, Endangered species, Endangered species, Whooping cranes, Whooping cranes, Sandhill cranes, Canada geese goose, Migration, Fathergoose, Reintroduction, Ultralight Flying, Jeff Daniels, Birds


Date:July 31, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:DON'T MISS THIS Wildlife AdventureLocation: Main Office

Designed to highlight wildlife – and especially birds, this very special trip offers you an extraordinary opportunity to experience Patagonia in South America. Comprising the southern-most parts of Chile and Argentina, Patagonia offers unparalleled vistas of snowcapped mountains, icy oceans, and windswept plateaus, which alone, could well make this excursion the adventure of a lifetime.

Join trip leaders OM’s Walter Sturgeon and Zoologist Dave Davenport in an exploration of the incredible wildlife and breathtaking scenery that makes Patagonia a magical place. From Chile’s bustling capital of Santiago travel south to Punta Arenas and the spectacular World Heritage Site of Torres del Paine National Park. Nestled in the Andes, this vast park is home to herds of guanaco, Patagonian foxes, amazingly diverse birdlife, and even the elusive puma is fairly common. Delight to the sight of albatrosses, kelp geese and gentoo penguins along the Beagle Channel and giant Magellanic woodpeckers resident in the forests of Tierra del Fuego National Park.

You may also want to take advantage of a fantastic post-trip extension that will concentrate on the wildlife of the Atacama Desert and high Andes Mountains of Northern Chile, the Lake District south of Santiago, or to the cultural sites on Easter Island.

Presented through EcoQuest Travel, Inc, your participation in this adventure to the bottom of the world helps Operation Migration. EcoQuest donates $200 to OM for each participant.

For a complete itinerary or answers to any questions, contact Walt Sturgeon: sturgeon2(AT)embarqmail.com or Dave Davenport: info(AT)ecoquesttravel.net (Replace (AT) with @). But do it today - only a few spots are still open.

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Date:July 31, 2011 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: MEET THE NEW WCEP CHAIR Location: Main Office

Lynn Lewis, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region Assistant Regional Director of Ecological Services recently announced the selection of Peter Fasbender as the new project leader for the Green Bay Ecological Services Field Office. Mr. Fasbender will assume the role of Chair of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) replacing former Chair Louise Clemency.

In the announcement, Lewis noted that Mr. Fasbender "graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a BS in 1984 and MS in 1987, and held positions with the Wisconsin DNR during those years. He then went on to a Wildlife Biologist position with the Service's Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. He served as a Wildlife Biologist with the Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, from 1988-2000, and as a Fish and Wildlife Biologist with the Service Regional Office from 2000-2010. Most recently, he has served as the Deputy Field Supervisor at the Twin Cities Ecological Services Field Office."

OM's Board of Directors and staff extend a warm welcome to Mr. Fasbender as he joins the 'WCEP family'.

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Date: July 30, 2011Reporter:Caleb Fairfax
Subject:TRAINING UPDATELocation:White River Marsh, WI

The past week was training as usual.  The chicks are really picking up following and flying behind the ultralight.  During our most recent day of training, July 26th, we had a brief scare with 6-11.  Toward the end of training it looked as if 6-11 had managed to hurt its leg in the fencing that separates the mowed grass training strip from the tall marsh grass.  He refused to put any weight on the leg at all and stood perfectly still with his right leg held up for several minutes. There was a lot of muffled swearing between the pilot and myself, probably in some attempt to hide our distress at the situation.

All turned out well as within a few minutes 6-11 was walking around and playing in the wet pen as if nothing had happened. Probably the crane equivalent of hitting a funny bone but scary for us all the same.

Training was on hold Wednesday and Thursday due to heavy rain and fog.  Although we haven't been able to train as we would like, the rain is a welcome ally in our ongoing struggle to maintain water in the wet pen.

Aside from the usual updates from us here at the White River Marsh, I have been compiling video since I began with OM in late May.  What I have put together, I hope, will allow our dedicated and casual followers a chance to see what life is like from inside our helmets and get an up close and personal look at the cranes.  I also hope this video selection would provide the chance to see their beautiful development from clumsy little tufts of down feathers to the flying adolescent cranes they have become.

We begin with a video showing a typical feeding session while the chick is still in the incubator. This is actually footage of #16-11; though not one of our birds, it provides a good chance to see a whooper in the very beginning of its life.  This little guy/gal is no more than 36 hours old when the video was taken.  Still in an incubator and still receiving round the clock care to ensure he/she has the best chance at survival. In this video I sit behind the incubator with only my puppet inside attempting to get little 1-116 to take its first bites of food and first sips of water.  As you can see at the end of the clip, the little whooper has next to no coordination.  Too cute!  Anyway, all our birds here in OM started out exactly like this little ball of fluff in an incubator receiving special attention so they can grow strong and one day migrate south like their ancestors.

Stay tuned in the coming days for more videos by Caleb!

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Date: July 29, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:EMP UPDATELocation:Home

The WCEP Tracking and Monitoring team reports that as of July 23, 2011 the maximum size of the eastern migratory population 99 birds (51 males and 48 females).

Distribution at the end of the report period included 84 Whooping cranes in Wisconsin; 1 bird each in Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota, 6 at undetermined locations, and 6 long-term missing.

Unfortunately, the carcass of no. 7-03 was collected from his summering territory near the former North Training Site on Necedah NWR on 21 July. The deteriorated condition of the remains indicated it had been there for considerable time. Its mate, 26-07* is now with 6 other whooping cranes spending time on the southern pools on the refuge.

Number 10-11 a young male, currently in training with the rest of the Class of 2011, was collected as an egg this past spring, is an offspring of 7-03 and 26-07*

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Date: July 28, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:A SMART VOTELocation:Home

A bipartisan majority of the House voted to preserve funding for the Endangered Species Act and the animals and plants it protects.

House lawmakers voted 224-202 yesterday to change the appropriations bill for the Interior Department to take out what environmental groups dubbed the “extinction rider.” This rider would have stopped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from spending any money to protect new species under the Endangered Species Act or to designate habitat that is critical to their survival.

At least 37 Republicans voted for the measure, which pushes for species conservation.

An amendment, introduced by Rep. Norm Dicks (D., Wash.), overturned the proposed prohibition on the Fish and Wildlife Service, allowing the agency to continue placing new species on the list.

Among the measures still under consideration in the House are those that would:

- Stop more than 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon from being protected from new uranium mines;
- Force the Environmental Protection Agency to stop all work limiting carbon dioxide pollution from power plants,
refineries and other large pollution sources;
- Halt efforts under the Clean Water Act from protecting human health and endangered species from pesticides;
- Block EPA oversight of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia;
- Interfere with the Environmental Protect Agency’s work to protect the public from toxic coal ash;
- Hinder the EPA’s and U.S. Corps of Engineers’ work to protect wetlands and other waters of the United States;
- Expedite air-pollution permits for offshore drilling in the Arctic

The house is expected to vote on these measures in the coming days but for now, we, along with many other environmental groups are celebrating yesterday’s vote.

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Date: July 27, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:CRANECAMLocation:Home

The Operation Migration CraneCam is once again streaming LIVE video and providing a front row seat for early morning training sessions. You can also watch the interactions during the day as the chicks forage and socialize inside the predator-proof enclosure.

Training takes place each morning, (weather permitting) shortly after 6am Central (7am Eastern). If you’re not an early riser you can still catch up on the action using the ARCHIVES tab on the video player and then selecting the DATE tab. From there just click the calendar and select any date to watch each 10 minute clip.

The CraneCam is several miles from where the DSL transmission line is located and it arrives there wirelessly, via a 17db yagi antenna, where a similar antenna receives the signal and then transmits it via DSL to WildEarth.tv servers. From there it appears as a live video stream available for everyone to watch.

The pan/tilt/zoom is operated by a crew of volunteer camera drivers or ‘Zoomies’ – who try to ensure there is always something of interest even during the times when there isn’t any aircraft conditioning taking place.

We’ve expanded our team of Zoomies this year to allow us to cover off more hours and we are thrilled to welcome back some from last year, as well as some new drivers who have had no problems at all becoming familiar with the birds and the camera controls.

On behalf of all the viewers – thank you to: Colleen Chase, Sue Walsh, Dave Kitzman, Malcom Strickland, Carol Popelka, Brokaw Davis, Terry Johnson, Suzanne Elsea, Claire Deland and Ella Moyes – for your quick fingers, keen eyes and the time you spend behind the wheel!

If you would like to participate in the accompanying chat to ask questions you can register manually and select a screen name or login using your Facebook profile.

New this year is a partnership between Wildearth.tv and UStream.tv – All streams are now being simulcast on the very popular UStream site - the largest streaming video website. You can access our UStream channel here: http://www.ustream.tv/migratingcranes

If you have a website and would like to embed the LIVE streaming broadcast for your visitors to see, please send an email to: heather(AT)operationmigration.org – I’ll be glad to send you the embed code which can easily be dropped into your website.

If you would like to help spread the word about the CraneCam, we would sure appreciate it. This shortened link is Twitter friendly but can also be shared anywhere so just copy and paste it wherever you like! http://bit.ly/crane-cam

The CraneCam will be operational from 5:00am – 10pm Central time each day. We hope to see you there!

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Date: July 26, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE...Location:Home

...Except where it's needed.

After a 5-week dry spell that coincided with record setting high temperatures here in Southern Ontario, we finally received some much needed rain yesterday morning. Too much apparently, as when I walked into the office and approached my desk, my feet made the unmistakable 'squish' sound that can only come from a water-logged carpet.

A flick of the light switch revealed the issue. But this is only the latest time this has happened. Over the past 8 years, we've experienced this at least a half dozen times. One of the perks of occupying a basement office I suppose.

A couple of photos snapped and sent to the landlord resulted in a fairly quick response. Chris and I spent most of yesterday clearing all the office equipment and filing cabinets away from the wall under which the water had seeped. A contractor will arrive today to tear out the drywall to see if he can determine where the water is making its entrance and hopefully repair it until further measures can be taken on the outside of the building.

So, we'll be working from our respective homes for the next few days or until the work is complete. Chris has forwarded the phones to her home number, so if you call and happen to not get the typical greeting, it's still Chris! And you can still leave a message if you don't get a response. Mail response times will be somewhat slower as well since we will not be able to retrieve the mail on a daily basis.

Out west, in Green Lake County, Wisconsin -  the situation is at the other end of the wetness scale. When we constructed the pen, it rained off and on for 10 days. As a result the wetpen was far too deep.

Now, almost a month later and following the same dry spell, during the same record setting temps, things are much different. While there is still water in the wetpen, it has certainly receded - a bit too much. A well will be drilled shortly but in the meantime, a 1000 gallon holding tank on a trailer is being used to replenish as needed.

The tank is filled then hauled out to the parking area at the site, where it's connected to one of the longest fire hoses I've ever seen, and then the contents of the tank are dumped into the wetpen while the cranes dance and play in the water stream.

Hopefully, things will be back to normal soon - at both locations.

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Date: July 25, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:MileMaker CampaignLocation:Main Office
Will you become a MileMaker sponsor and help fund the fall ultralight-guided migration of the Class of 2011? MileMaker sponsorships for this year are: $182 for one mile; $91 for a half mile; and $45.50 for a quarter mile. It's fast and easy so why not use the following link and become a 2011 MileMaker sponsor right now!!

This year sponsors will have an opportunity to receive a very special thank you gift! OM's multi-talented Richard van Heuvelen has donated one of his fabulous crane chick metal sculptures for us to use as a Thank You gift.

Richard's sculptures have sold for thousands of dollars, so you won't want to miss this opportunity to be entered for chance to own one of his valuable and unique pieces of artwork. (Representation of chick sculpture is shown in photo to the right. To see more of Richard's phenomenal metal sculpture art visit his website, The Wooden Anvil.)

MileMaker Sponsors' names will be entered in the Thank You Gift Draw as follows:
1 entry per quarter mile sponsorship
2 entries per half mile sponsorship
4 entries per one mile sponsorship

The entire southward migration consists of 1285 miles and to date only 155 miles have been sponsored so we have quite a ways to go. To help please visit the MileMaker page.

As an immediate special thank you for your support we'll send you a secret link where you can select a beautiful E-Calendar image to display on your laptop or PC desktop! Each month through to March 2012 features a full color photograph with calendar overlay. Here are a couple of sample images:

August 2011 September 2011 October 2011

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Date: July 24, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:WIND FARMS AND WHOOPING CRANESLocation:Main Office

Reprinted with permission - Whooping Crane Conservation Association

The development of wind farms is occurring at a rapid pace in the Central Flyway with many of the best wind sites located in the whooping crane migration corridor. Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) advised the Whooping Crane Conservation Association (WCCA) that multiple wind farms have already been built with more planned. Stehn stated, “It is important to analyze the potential impact of literally tens of thousands of wind turbines that may be placed in the whooping crane migration corridor in the coming years.

Current estimates are that 2,705 turbines are operational at 40 wind farms in the U. S. whooping crane migration corridor.  The average wind development project consists of 57 turbines (data generated by the Great Plains Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in March, 2011).      

The majority of wind farms do not require federal permits and thus there is no nexus for the companies to consult with USFWS under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, the projects must avoid “take” of endangered species under Section 9 of the ESA. USFWS’ Stehn advised that: “For the totality of wind energy development, there is a very definite issue of “take”.  Wind farms have the potential to directly kill whooping cranes from the turbines themselves or associated power line development, or could result in “take” of hundreds of square miles of migration stopover habitat if whooping cranes tend to avoid wind farms.”  The National Academy of Science Report in 2004 on Platte River endangered species confirmed unequivocally the threat to whooping cranes if migration habitat is lost.      

Early on in discussions with wind companies, USFWS talked of two possible scenarios for offsetting anticipated impacts of wind farms.  These were to set aside whooping crane migration stopover habitat in perpetuity to counter potential loss of habitat from wind farm construction, as well as to mark new power lines, as well as some existing power lines to offset the threat of whooping cranes colliding with a wind turbine or power lines built to support wind development.      

According to Stehn: “At the urging of USFWS at meetings held in Denver and Houston as well as regular conference calls, 19 of the largest wind development companies joined together to work on endangered species issues throughout the whooping crane migration corridor in the U.S.  With the support of the State of Oklahoma, the industry group received a grant of $1,080,990 to develop a landscape level, multi-species HCP that would include the lesser prairie chicken.  The grant was awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund under the HCP Planning Assistance Program. The HCP will be designed to avoid and minimize impacts to endangered and threatened species associated with wind energy development.”        

This multi-species HCP will be the first of its kind to involve alternative fuel sources while protecting endangered species.  In a meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma in November, 2010, four species were added to the HCP (Sprague’s pipit, mountain plover, piping plover and interior least tern), joining the whooping crane and lesser prairie chicken.  An additional meeting was held in March, 2011 in Albuquerque.  It does appear that this industry group will agree to have the wintering grounds of the whooping cranes as off- limits to wind energy development.  However, projects in the migration corridor are currently being built and are not waiting for this HCP to be completed.      

In 2010, monitoring for cranes was done at the Titan I wind facility in South Dakota.  In the spring, a group of 5 whooping cranes spent 3 days approximately 2 miles from the project.  The closest they were ever on the ground from a turbine was 1.2 miles.  When they resumed migration, the nearest turbine was shut down in a very rapid response as the monitor called in that the cranes were flying.  The cranes passed by that turbine at a distance of about one-half mile.  In the fall, two groups of whooping cranes (2+1 and 2) flew within 0.5 and 0.3 miles from an operating turbine but did not seem to alter their flight behavior.       

Research on sandhill cranes in west Texas done by Laura Navarrete of Texas Tech University documented two observed instances of cranes being killed by wind turbine blades.  Although sandhill cranes definitely avoided wind farms, she also observed accommodation with cranes foraging right at the base of turbines.  Research done by U.S. Geological Survey at Horicon NWR in Wisconsin also showed some avoidance by sandhill cranes from wind farms.

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Date: July 23, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:ROCKYLocation:Main Office

Rocky, the National Zoo's first whooping crane since 1923, has no "whoop."

"I haven't heard any little squeak or squawk or anything from him," National Zoo keeper Debi Talbott said. "I have no idea why he doesn't vocalize."

Rocky, who has been at the zoo less than two months, has a champion in Talbott. She has devoted 20 years to working with cranes but this is her first whooping crane. At five feet tall, with a wingspan of seven feet, the big white bird comes when she calls.

Rocky probably won't produce any offspring at least in part because he doesn't whoop.

"As a crane, if you can't vocalize, you can't do what we call 'unison calling' with a mate, which is so much a part of the breeding, the bond, the courtship," Talbott said. "Because cranes tend to pair for life, that's a huge part of their bonding."

Continue Reading

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Date: July 22, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:ACCOMPLISHMENTSLocation:Main Office

Chances are, if you're visiting and reading this Field Journal, that you're one of our very loyal supporters. Whether you choose to contribute on a monthly basis; to the MileMaker Campaign; as a Supporting, or Sustaining member, or to the 2011 Give A WHOOP Campaign, each and every dollar you contribute is helping us to carry out our work to safeguard Whooping cranes.

Thank you!

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Date: July 21, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:SAVING THE GHOST BIRDSLocation:Main Office

Saving the Ghost Birds: A Celebration of Human Accomplishment
A documentary by David Sakrison, Jack Christ and Video Age Productions.

World Premiere: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 6:00PM at the Stefanie Weill Center for the Performing Arts, 826 North 8th Street, Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Special Guests Include, former Governor Tommy Thompson, Joe Duff, co-founder of Operation Migration, David Sakrison, author of Chasing the Ghost Birds and local industrialist and conservationists Terry and Mary Kohler.

Bid on silent auction artwork from Sheboygan County Area High School Students. Bids accepted on items from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 pm on September 13th at the Weill Center.

Through insightful interviews, stunning video footage and a lively soundtrack, the documentary offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the painstaking process of breeding Cranes in captivity, raising them without human contact, teaching them to migrate, and finally, releasing them into the wild. It offers a window into the nit and grit of conservation fieldwork and the empathy, patience, perseverance and dedication of the team members who went to where the birds were and carried out their work.

General Admission:
$10.00 Adults
$5.00 Children, and Students with a valid ID

Tickets are available at the Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts Ticket office Weekdays from 10AM to 5 PM or by calling 920-208-3243 or at http://www.weillcenter.com

The proceeds from this event will benefit the Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin, at the Sheboygan County Municipal Airport and Operation Migration Inc.

Follow Saving
The Ghost Birds

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Date: July 20, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:PICTORIAL TO ACCOMPANY ONE ACT PLAYLocation:Main Office

Yesterday, Richard van Heuvelen allowed us a peek into his One Act Play, which actually played out live last Sunday morning at 6:15am. Today, he shares a couple of the images captured during the Play.

Our first aerial view of the new training site at the White River Marsh Wildlife Area in Green Lake County, WI.
Number 2-11 gets airborne following Richard's trike as it does a high-speed taxi run along the grass training strip.
The entire cohort of ten follows - some better than others.
Most of the group mingles beneath the large wing while in the background number 5-11 searches for more bugs to gobble up.
 
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Date: July 19, 2011 Reporter:Richard van Heuvelen
Subject:A ONE ACT PLAY Location:Green Lake Co., WI
The setting: White River Marsh State Wildlife Area, Green Lake County, Wisconsin. A yellow ultralight with a large white wing flies in and lands in front of a pen painted in a light colored camouflage pattern. Two characters in white tunics covering them from head to foot are standing next to the doors of the pen. The pilot also wearing the same white tunic signals the two characters and they promptly swing open the large wooden doors. Six sandy and white colored crane chicks pop out of the pen, while four others lag behind. It takes a few moments for the two characters to coax two more of the chicks out of the pen. As the doors close the yellow aircraft roars off, the chicks flying behind.

#2-11:  Look I can fly! Woohoo-yahoo! I’m catching the wing… oh, I’m above it? Hmm.  

The aircraft leaves the runway with #2 following, as the others land at the far end of the runway.

#2-11: WOW this is great! Man I love that wing! Oh no - the ground is getting farther away maybe I should turn back, my buddies turned back... Ha! Losers. Uh oh, the trike is turning. I think I should turn too - look! I can turn much sharper than the trike Ha! Loser pilot! I’ll beat it back to the runway. 

#2 joins the others at the end of the runway. Meanwhile #’s 7and 9 have decided to join the group.

#2-11:  Hey you guys! Why didn’t you keep going? It was awesome!  I can fly better than that pilot huh! You guys should come next time just follow me - it’ll be OK.
#10-11: Easy for you to say… You’re older, besides we like it at the end of the runway…right here – on the ground. 

As the trike taxis to the south end of the runway #’s 3 and 5 finally make it out of the pen.

#5-11: I’m not following that... that thing!
#3-11: hey chill man… we don’t need to follow… let’s just chill out here by the doors
#5-11: Ok .... look there’re some bugs by the fence
#3-11: Mmmm these are good man... this is the life!

The six chicks see the trike at the other end and run or fly to join it. They pass the pen, #’s 5 and 3.

#5-11: Hey look! Maybe should we go with them.
#3-11: Humph! NOT... losers. I’m getting full. Let’s just hang here, I’m kinda buzzed from all the bugs

The trike roars past, with eight chicks either flying or running along behind it.

#3-11: Man what’s up with that???
#5-11: Maybe we should follow?
#3-11: Nah...
#5-11: I’m going - just a little ways up…
#3-11: WHATEVER!

#2 is gleefully flying with the wing.

#2-11: Whoa! woot! Man, wow this is some crazy stuff coming off that wing! Look, I can fly higher than it -Hey Hey Hey! Check it out! I’m so cool!

The trike lands at the north end of the runway.

#2-11: Hah! I’m gonna keep on goin! Wheeeee! check out my turns - I really am cool... 
#10-11: she really is pretty cool
#6-11 you like her!
#10-11 but man - look at her fly!
#6-11 Ya, I know ...but I think she likes you

#2 lands next to #10. After a brief rest and some treats the trike heads down the runway. Most of the chicks follow.

#9-11: These insects are pretty tasty. Oh, there goes the trike. Should I follow…? look a fly! GULP. The trike’s getting farther away… oh well. Look at the size of that bug! Mmmmm. The trike’s getting even farther away… Should I follow? Man these are tasty!  Oh crap – it’s really far away now.

#9 runs and flies after the trike but lands a good distance away from it.

#9-11: I’m not getting too close to it!
#12-11: Hey look! #9 can fly too!

The trike stops. The engine is shut down and the less than impressed pilot stumbles out; looks around as if lost. Why won’t they all follow me?  The dejected pilot plunks himself down on the ground and begins to pass out treats to the chicks that have loyally followed his trike. #’s 2 and 10 almost stand on top of the pilot, eagerly snatching up the grapes.

#12-11: Hey, can we have some?
#1-11: Ya man, we followed too.... Trike hog!
#6-11: Treat hogs! GULP - Ha! got that one away from you!
#5-11: Whats goin on down there? Maybe we should go 
#3-11: Whatever! Well maybe…? I think I see them snarfing smelt. Bugs are great but smelts rock!
#5-11: Let’s GO! #3-11: Easy man… Play it cool. Let’s just saunter down there slow and cool like. We don’t want them to think we’re too eager
#5-11: Ya, I get it man - we’ll take them by surprise

Chicks 3 and 5 slowly fly toward the trike but land short of it and saunter toward it from stage left

#3-11: Hey man where are the goods at!?
#5-11: Having just snatched a smelt  Mmmmm! these are good!
#9-11: There’s treats?
#4-11: Sorry - all gone!
#9-11: well then - back to the pen! I’m outa here!

The curtain closes as the chicks are allowed back into the pen. The trike takes off into the rising sun

Pilot: It sure is good to be flying again

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Date: July 18, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:CRANECAM NOW LIVE!Location:Main Office

We’re thrilled to let you know that effective immediately, the Operation Migration CraneCam is once again LIVE and will be providing a front row seat for early morning training sessions. You can also watch the interactions during the day as the chicks forage and socialize inside the predator-proof enclosure.

Training takes place each morning, (weather permitting) shortly after 6am Central (7am Eastern). If you’re not an early riser you can still catch up on the action using the ARCHIVES tab on the video player and selecting the date you would like to watch. Archived clips are stored in 10 minute chunks.

The CraneCam is several miles from where the DSL transmission line is located and it arrives there wirelessly, via a 17db yagi antenna, where a similar antenna receives the signal and then transmits it via DSL to WildEarth.tv servers. From there it appears as a live video stream available for everyone to watch.

New this year is a partnership recently announced between Wildearth.tv and UStream.tv – All streams are now being simulcast on the very popular UStream site - the largest streaming video website. You can access our channel here: http://www.ustream.tv/migratingcranes

If you have a website and would like to embed the LIVE streaming broadcast for your visitors to see, please send an email to: heather(AT)operationmigration.org – I’ll be glad to send you the embed code which can easily be dropped into your website.

Here’s a video clip captured from the archives to show you what a typical training session looks like. This session took place yesterday morning with pilot Richard van Heuvelen.

Hope to see you on the CraneCam Channel

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Date: July 17, 2011Reporter: Heather Ray
Subject:CRANIAC MONTHLY GIVING CLUBLocation: Main Office

In early April of this year we launched our Craniac Monthly Giving Club! and an impressive number of folks have registered! The Craniac Club is easy. It’s flexible and It’s convenient but most of all it is rewarding. Your monthly gift will help ensure that we are able to continue our work to safeguard Whooping cranes and continue our education and outreach.

To launch this new initiative, once you become a monthly donor, you will receive... E-Calendars AND a complimentary Whooping crane PageMarker as a special thank you!

The E-Calendars feature twelve stunning photographs with a monthly calendar overlay for use on your PC or laptop desktop. We’ll send our Craniac Monthly donors a link from which to download the new image of the month to place on your desktop.

Here's a sample of some of the monthly E-Calendars!

November 2011

July 2011

January 2012

The PageMarker is 24 karat gold-plated and the laser cut process allows for very fine detailing on the crane. It is lightweight, yet sturdy enough to mark the page in the book you’re currently reading until you're able to return to it. The card on which it is mounted provides information about the ultralight-guided reintroduction in Eastern North America.

Monthly giving provides a reliable, low-cost stream of revenue that sustains our ongoing programs. It is a cost-effective, reliable and a consistent source of funding for Operation Migration and the work we do.

Monthly donations can be processed more efficiently than single or one-time gifts, resulting in a higher percentage of your gift being directed to our work and you are in control! At any time you can increase, decrease, pause or stop your donations, all at your convenience. Each February, we will send you a year-end summary report with your total tax-deductible contribution for the preceding year.

Won’t you become a Craniac Monthly Donor? It’s easy to join and you can contribute any amount you like on a monthly basis: $10, $15, $25 – any amount you like! Visit this link to learn more or to enroll today!

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Date: July 16, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:EMP UPDATELocation:Main Office

The WCEP Tracking Team reports the size of the eastern migratory population of Whooping cranes as of July 9, 2010 stood at 100 birds (52 males and 48 females).  The oldest female in the population, No. 7-01* has not been detected or reported since early May 2010 and is now considered deceased. Distribution as of 9 July included 90 birds in Wisconsin, 1 bird each in Indiana and Michigan, 2 at undetermined locations and 6 long term missing.

Sadly, the carcasses of breeding pair nos. 27-05* (DAR) and 31-08 (DAR) were collected on their summer territory, Juneau County Forest, Juneau County, Wisconsin, on 7 July. Both carcasses were sent to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison for necropsy.

No. 10-10 has turned up. The female yearling wintered at St. Marks NWR in Wakulla County, FL and hasn’t been seen since she appeared briefly at the end of May in south Wisconsin. She was located during an aerial survey in Dodge County, WI on 7 July and was also reported in this area the following day.

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Date: July 15, 2011 Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:LESSONS LEARNED Location:Main Office

They’re growing quickly – a bit more than two inches each week. Their world changes daily – as do their skills and abilities.

When they first began hatching out, some 11 weeks ago, they were tiny, wobbly fuzz balls – miniscule in comparison to the average 36-inches of height each now boasts. Their wings resembled those which we might find in an order of chicken wings from our local wing shack. Now they sport an impressive 5-foot span and they still have more growing to do.

Their cinnamon fluff had been discarded – and was quickly replaced with feathers of the same hue. Now these are dropping to reveal the brilliant white feathers, which in no time at all will cover their entire bodies.

Until yesterday morning they had been training – almost daily -- with the wingless aircraft. Taxiing up and down the grass training strip – trotting along on those gangly legs, which only weeks ago were just inches long.

This morning the Class of 2011 graduated to training with the entire aircraft; one capable of flight as they too will be, all too soon. The introduction went well. Brooke flew into the site and I can’t help but wonder what went through the minds of the colts when they saw for the first time that their surrogate parent could actually fly!

As Geoff and Caleb opened the large gates the kids seemed a bit timid at first until coaxed out with grapes. Brooke was extremely patient with them and tossed grapes not too far from the unfamiliar wing. The lure of grapes was too strong and a few adventurous birds were rewarded for their curiosity.

Soon the others joined them near the wing and Brooke very slowly moved it from side-to-side and back and forth so that the birds could get accustomed to the shadow it created near their feet – all the while tossing grapes.

In no time at all they were following the aircraft, with its large wing overhead, as it taxied up and down the training strip. Another lesson learned.

Pilot Brooke Pennypacker encourages the colts to walk under the wing by tossing grapes onto the ground. The large overhead wing is foreign to them until now, as they have only ever seen the wingless trike, or a very small kite-like wing, which is used at Patuxent.
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Date: July 14, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:WHOOP!Location:Main Office
The 2011 Give A WHOOP! campaign launched on Tuesday, June 28, coinciding with the arrival of the Class of 2011 at their brand new Wisconsin home at the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area.

Help us celebrate our new site and 2011's ten gorgeous, cinnamon-colored young Whooping crane colts by Giving a WHOOP! You might just be lucky enough to have your name drawn for a fabulous thank you gift consisting of a vacation in Costa Rica. It's quick and easy to Give A WHOOP....just click here.

As in the past, with every 50 WHOOPS that come in we will draw for a Give A WHOOP! t-shirt. The names drawn thus far are Dave Sapko, Vickie Wyatt and Hope Brugunier, Maureen Kuntzman, Claire Timm, Jason Wurtzel, Charrie Gibson, and just yesterday we awarded a T-shirt to Anna Osborn!

Congratulations! Your names will of course be entered back into the thank you draw for the Costa Rica vacation, (which includes airfare) and which will be made at the conclusion of the 2011 southward migration.

Click the link below to view a photo gallery of images taken at and around the private residence that you will be staying at should you be the recipient of this great gift: Mot Mot Manor gallery

Have YOU WHOOP'd yet? Each $10 WHOOP will help us reach our fundraising goal and enable us to carry out our work with the Class of 2011 Whooping cranes. We'll list your name on this page and enter you into the thank you draws.

WHOOP Loud & Proud!

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Date:July 13, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:WCCA TRUSTEES APPROVE $286,750 FOR HABITAT PURCHASELocation:Main Office

Trustees of Whooping Crane Conservation Association recently approved an expenditure of $286,750 to acquire three tracts of private land currently used by whooping cranes.  These sites are located within the lands designated as Critical Habitat wintering area for whooping cranes along the Texas Coast.

Critical habitat contains those habitat qualities essential to conservation and recovery of the species.  The Trustees believe it is important for the Association to do everything possible to protect these sites from residential and commercial development and to preserve them for continued use by the cranes.

The majority of the funds committed for these acquisitions came from bequests to WCCA from two women. Lurae A Brinkerhoff provided $281,515 in 1998 and Elizabeth F. Overton gave $36,260 in 1999.  The Association is deeply grateful for the donation by these women that will do so much to preserve habitat for the cranes.  The purchase of these sites, scheduled for this summer, will support goals of the Canada/U.S. International Whooping Crane Recovery Team.

The Association is partnering with The Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, and The Nature Conservancy, to purchase fee title on two tracts totaling 168 acres of freshwater and estuarine marshes, tidal mudflats, and saline uplands on Copano Bay.

The total cost is estimated to be $348,800 with 25 percent ($86,750) being WCCA’s share.  The southern unit is part of a territory that a pair and their chicks have used for several years.  The northern unit is used by sub-adults and unpaired adult whooping cranes.  We anticipate that the properties will eventually be transferred into the public trust, and possibly become part of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.  Other protected lands in the vicinity are Goose Island State Park, the Lamar and Tatton Units of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, and the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve.

The Association is also partnering with The Nature Conservancy to acquire a conservation easement on 108.8 acres of private land bordering San Antonio Bay.  The easement will restrict any action that would be detrimental to the conservation purpose for whooping cranes and their habitat.  This area is used as wintering habitat by two dozen whooping cranes often referred to as the Welder Flats population.  The easement would prohibit further development or construction on this tract which borders resort properties known as Falcon Point Ranch.

The property is a prime piece of the Ranch, suitable for development, which borders salt marsh used by whooping cranes.  Other protected crane habitats in the vicinity are Welder Flats Wildlife Management Area, Welder Flats Coastal Preserve, Guadalupe River Wildlife Management Area, and Aransas National Wildlife Area.  The Whooping Crane Conservation Association’s $200,000 contribution for the easement will be combined with other public and private funding to fulfill the total real estate, contractual and land acquisition cost of $1,050,187.

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Date: July 12, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:CONCERN FOR WOOD BUFFALO/ARANSAS FLOCKLocation:Main Office

Environmentalists worry oilsands development could threaten whooping cranes, as new data shows the iconic endangered species continues to migrate through the increasingly industrialized area. GPS information collected last fall by U.S. and Canadian agencies on 12 whoopers show that nine of them stopped in and around the oilsands region.

That matches earlier studies showing the mighty birds do stop in the area on their way between Wood Buffalo National Park and the Texas Gulf coast. Peter Lee of Global Forest Watch says it's time Alberta started taking the birds into account as it completes its land use plan for the area.

But government spokesman Dave Ealey says the birds' time here is too brief, rare and unpredictable to do much about. Thanks largely to extensive conservation efforts, the population of whooping cranes has gradually increased from 22 in 1941 to about 300. 

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Date: July 11, 2011 Reporter:Geoff Tarbox
Subject:SATURDAY'S SESSION Location:White River Marsh, WI

Morning training is a ritual.  A science if you will.  The interns saunter over to the pen, shut off the electric fence, peek in the door to make sure the kids are ready for a little exercise, get them hyped up with our vocalizers and a few grapes, then we turn them loose into the pilot’s hands.   And after running the length of the field a few times, we put them back in the pen -  a job well done.

The first day, we tried to do morning training, when we swung the gates open, the chicks just looked at us, flabbergasted as if to say, “Can we help you?”  Sadly, crossing that portcullis still seems to be something of a trick for these guys - more so than previous years’ flocks.  Then again, those big, wooden doors can be scary to a three foot tall crane chick.  But Saturday morning when Caleb and I opened the doors, almost all the birds came out right away.  Some of them sprinted right out the door, eager to stretch their wins, others quietly crept out the gate, unsure what to expect on the other side, or what the big gate would do.  The only one who wouldn’t come out on her own was 12-11.

Back at Patuxent, little #12 was a spunky gal who wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself - even to the likes of that bully #8 from time-to-time.  Ever since she came to White River Marsh, she’s seemed a little more timid and reserved.  She’s never one of the birds at the front of the crowd anymore, and always gingerly pecks at the puppet and costume.  But then again, if you were in an unfamiliar pen, with so many birds, all of whom are way bigger than you; wouldn’t you lose some of your spunk?  But Caleb and I didn’t give up on her, as he guided and led her out the door, where she was able to hook up with the rest of the flock.

With all the birds in Brooke’s capable hands, Caleb and I watched training through little peepholes in the pen walls.  We both saw two birds soar for a couple dozen yards, completely off the ground; completely without ground effect.  I couldn’t tell which birds I was looking at since their bands were too far out.  But if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say they were #’s 1 and 2, since the older birds are typically the first ones to experience flight.

Unfortunately, one recurring problem we have is birds wandering off the runway.  As much as a pilot can try to sweet talk them with vocalizers and grapes, the only real thing that keeps a chick on the runway is its own attention span.  Being kids, the minute they see a low cut field or a marsh begging to be explored, they’ll forget the trike faster than we can forget the capitals of all fifty states.

Naturally, we take a proactive stance toward this and try to set up rolls of plastic fencing to make sure they can’t wander off.  But we just don’t have enough fencing to cover the whole runway, so they still find spots to wander off.  At least three birds casually strolled off, which included #7 and the two fliers. The two fliers managed to catch up on their own (I know it was the fliers, since I saw them flying to catch up to the trike), but #7 spent the remainder of the training stuck behind the wrong side of the fence.  Thankfully, getting her back was just a simple matter of lowering the fence and luring her over it when it was time to bring her home.  By then, she was definitely more interested in paying attention to the friendly white blobby things and followed Brooke into the pen with no hesitation.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen #7 try to find something better to do than follow a noisy trike.  I’ve seen #12 disappear into the meadow at the end of the runway, though she typically tries to catch up if she’s left behind.  #5 is another one who spent training wading in the marsh, on at least a couple of occasions.  While he didn’t do that Saturday morning, watching him lag behind the trike, making no real effort to catch up, I could tell he wanted to jump in that marsh if that stupid plastic fence wasn’t in his way.  But no worries -  All it takes is a little discipline, regular training, and some grape bribes to straighten him out.

But all and all, I’d say Saturday was a productive training session.  Now if you excuse me, my next video game is pitting me against an evil warlock thief who’s stolen the power of the gods themselves.   And now I must venture deep into dungeons and temples across the land to rescue and reawaken half a dozen sages who can help me put this jerk in his place.


Geoff snapped the above image at the conclusion of Saturday's training session.

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Date: July 10, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:PATUXENT REFUGE NOT JUST FOR SCIENTISTSLocation:Main Office

From HometownAnnapolis.com

For a long time, the scientists wanted to keep the Patuxent Research Refuge all to themselves. Established in 1936, Patuxent was the first national refuge created specifically for scientific study. And for years, quiet scientific study is exactly what happened there.

That thinking started to change in the 1980s, as researchers realized public education was important. And by 1994, a sparkling $15 million visitors center was opened at the refuge.

"They finally realized in order to get public support, you need to tell them what you're doing," said Nell Baldacchino, a biologist and education specialist at Patuxent.

Today, the public can explore many of the refuge's 13,000 acres, which sprawl across Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties. And they can do it on foot, on bike or even in an electric tram. "Your can do it all in these 13,000 acres," said Amy Shoop, a ranger at Patuxent.

Meanwhile, the scientists still have a section of the refuge that's off-limits to the public, where they're at work on wildlife research, including trying to bring back the endangered whooping crane. Scientific research is conducted mainly on the Central Tract, one of three sections of the refuge.

The whooping crane breeding program is perhaps Patuxent's best-known project. Baby whooping cranes are hatched and reared there. Later, they're taught to fly behind ultralight planes in an attempt to re-create whooping crane migration routes.

CLICK to continue reading

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Date: July 9, 2011Reporter:Joe Duff
Subject:STILL LOTS TO DOLocation:Main Office

Even though the pensite at White River Marsh State Wildlife Area is complete we still have lots of work to do. After a record wet period while we were trying to get it ready, the weather has turned hot and dry. The runway, which was once soft and spongy, is now hard and bumpy. In fact it is almost too rough for the tiny wheels on our aircraft.

When we first introduce the birds to the aircraft at Patuxent, we do it without the wing attached. Breezy afternoons make the wing cumbersome and with ten birds to train individually every day, it is simpler to remove it until they are closer to fledging. When they arrive in Wisconsin we continue with the wingless aircraft so that not everything they are familiar with changes at once. At this point we can control the speed of our taxi training but soon we will have to introduce them to the wing. That will mean flying in and out and the speed of our landings and takeoffs is dictated by aerodynamics not what the landing gear will take.

Under normal conditions we would have created a runway by tilling the area in the early spring and using a disc to smooth everything out. Then we would roll it and plant a fast growing grass. By the end of June we would have a respectable runway but permits had to be in place before we could start and the access road had to be completed. Considering that we started with an upland ridge in the middle of a wild wetland, we’ve done a respectable job, but a little more work may be needed.

The next step is to bring in a vibrating compactor but the ground needs to be damp and soft again before it can be effective. If that doesn’t help, we will have to try more drastic measures. We could set up our travel pen farther into the marsh and move the birds out of sight of any activity. Then we could bring in several loads of top soil. It would have to be spread by hand to fill in the divots and hollows and then compacted again. With enough volunteers willing to spend an afternoon with shovels and rakes we could have a smooth runway in fairly short order.

We also have a blind to build. Our plan is to use a military surplus tent, some camouflage fabric and hay bales to create a blind to accommodate a dozen or so people at a time.

Also on the “To Do” list is to find three or four new stopover sites that will take us southwest to the Rockford, IL area where we will join the old route.

In a very short period, under difficult circumstances we created a pen and runway on wild lands, but it doesn’t end there. It’s a lot like a DIY renovation of your house. It is suitable to live in but never really finished.

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Date: July 8, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:NEOTROPICAL BIRDS NEED YOUR VOICELocation:Main Office

As spring and fall approach, millions of birds will wing their way to and from North America. Red Knots travel between the arctic tundra and the southernmost tip of South America – an impressive journey covering 10,000 or more miles – one way. Even more impressive is the Swainson’s Hawk. They leave their winter homes in Argentina each spring, flying north for up to 14,000 miles - stay for a dozen or so weeks and then reverse course.

There are more than 340 species of neotropical migratory birds, including plovers, terns, hawks, cranes, warblers, and sparrows. The populations of many of these are in decline, and several are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

From disappearing marshlands and unregulated hunting, to pesticides and pollution and tall lighted-at-night-structures along major flyways, migrating birds face an arduous journey in search of suitable habitat.

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 2000, established a matching grants program to fund projects that promote the conservation of migratory birds in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

The grants program began supporting projects in 2002, when it received its first appropriation in the amount of $3 million and since that time had supported 338 projects, coordinated by partners in 48 U.S. states/territories and 36 countries.

Earlier this week the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee announced funding for this critical grants program would be eliminated.

The American Bird Conservancy has asked that each of us let our representatives know our thoughts on this issue. Please visit the following link where you can enter your zipcode and send a pre-written letter (or add your own comments) to your representative in support of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act.

Make your voice heard in support of migratory birds.

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Date:July 7, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:ROCKYLocation:Main Office

On Sunday we told you the story about Levi and his new crane lady Peepers. Peepers' former exhibit partner, Rocky was moved to the Smithsonian National Zoo in DC to make room for the lovelorn Levi. We found some information about Rocky and the National Zoo that we'd like to share with you.

After an 88-year-long hiatus North America's tallest bird, the statuesque whooping crane (Grus americana), is once again on exhibit at the Bird House at the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park. An 11-year-old male whooping crane named Rocky left Homosassa Springs State Park in Florida and is now on exhibit in the nation's capital. Whooping cranes are one of only two crane species native to the United States. There are only eight other zoos in the U.S. which exhibit these birds.

"It is an honor for the National Zoo to once again exhibit this magnificent species," said Dennis Kelly, director of the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park. "Although most people have heard of whooping cranes, very few have had the privilege of seeing one in person. We are thrilled to have Rocky here as an ambassador for his species."

Rocky is only the fourth whooping crane to call the National Zoo home. The Zoo's first crane, a wild-caught bird of unknown sex, arrived in 1897. Its last, a female, died in 1923.

Visitors can see Rocky in the "Crane Run" exhibit outside of the Bird House. He is 5 feet tall and has a plume of white feathers, save for a patch of red and black feathers between his beak and the nape of his neck. He also has a 7-foot wingspan, which these cranes use to propel themselves 45 miles per hour during flight. Rocky will serve as an educational ambassador for his species, illustrating the behavior of whooping cranes to scientists, keepers and Zoo visitors. However, there is one trait visitors will not see Rocky perform: the loud "whoop" call these birds are named for.

"We don't know why Rocky is mute," says Sara Hallager, biologist at the Zoo's Bird House. "The reason behind his silence is a mystery known only to him."

The Zoo currently has no plans to breed Rocky, but his genes will not go to waste. He will participate in a study by the Zoo's Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute that determines the impact of genetic diversity on whooping crane sperm quality and fertility rate in captivity.

Rocky pictured at right - To view this, and other images of Rocky visit the National Zoo's Flickr page.

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Date: July 6, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:TAXI-TRAININGLocation:Main Office

The ten gangly crane colts that arrived at their summer home on the White River Marsh in Green Lake County, Wisconsin a week ago; have been taxi-training with the wingless ground trike.

Yesterday’s session lasted about half an hour and toward the end of the session, each of them looked like stars – even Brooke.

As soon as the costumes opened the front gate, all of the youngsters came bounding out of the wet pen to greet them and it looked as if everyone was eager to train with the aircraft, however, It took some coaxing to get one stubborn participant (not Brooke) out of the dry section of the enclosure.

Each time the costume would go back in to retrieve the reluctant colt, all the others -- who had already been out as far as the middle of the grass training strip – would do an about beak and head for the gates, intent on following the costume back inside.

In time though, Geoff was able to get the 10th colt pointed in the right direction, while Caleb opened the gate from the outside and he was soon reunited with his cohort and ready to begin training.

Brooke did a couple of slow speed passes and the chicks formed a long lazy line behind him – following, albeit from a distance. By the third pass though the group had formed nicely and was following with intent.

After constructing the pensite and training strip at breakneck speed and enduring 11 straight days of rain, it has been dry – too dry in fact and we’re now hoping for a day of rain. The grass strip is a little rough in areas and we would like to bring in a heavy roller to help smooth things out a bit but the ground is now rock hard. A good rainfall will help to soften it up somewhat and let the roller smoosh it down and compact it some, which will make for a less bumpy ride for the pilots during this ground training stage.

During the smooshing process the costumes will take the young birds on a field trip of sorts and lead them far enough away from the pen so they won’t be able to see or hear the heavy equipment.

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Date: July 5, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:WHOOP!Location:Main Office
The 2011 Give A WHOOP! campaign launched on Tuesday, June 28, coinciding with the arrival of the Class of 2011 at their brand new Wisconsin home at the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area.

Help us celebrate our new site and 2011's ten gorgeous, cinnamon- colored young Whooping crane colts by Giving a WHOOP! You might just be lucky enough to have your name drawn for a fabulous vacation in Costa Rica. It's quick and easy to Give A WHOOP....just click here.

As in the past, with every 50 WHOOPS that come in we will draw for a Give A WHOOP! t-shirt. The names drawn thus far are Dave Sapko, Vickie Wyatt and Hope Brugunier!

Congratulations! Your names will of course be entered back into the thank you draw for the Costa Rica vacation, (which includes airfare) and which will be made at the conclusion of the 2011 southward migration.

Click the link below to view a photo gallery of images taken at and around the private residence that you will be staying at should you be the recipient of this great gift: Mot Mot Manor gallery

Have YOU WHOOP'd yet? Each $10 WHOOP will help us reach our fundraising goal and enable us to carry out our work with the Class of 2011 Whooping cranes. We'll list your name on this page and enter you into the thank you draws.

WHOOP Loud & Proud!

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Date: July 4, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:EMP UPDATELocation:Main Office

Compiled from data supplied by WCEP trackers, this update gives the last known locations of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) as of June 25th.

The EMP currently consists of 53 males and 50 females for a total of 103 cranes.

Legend: * = Female; DAR = Direct Autumn Release crane; & = Pair; NFT = Non functional transmitter.

Mortality: The remains of No. W4-11 (chick of nos. 2-04/46-07*) were discovered and collected on July 1. The remains were shipped for necropsy.

Wisconsin

Juneau County: No. 1-01 and 14-09*, 11-02/30-08*, 13-02/18-02*, 16-02/16-07*, 7-03/26-07*, 3-04/9-03*, 10-03/W1-06*, 11-03/12-03*, Nos. 9-05/13-03*, 18-03/36-09*(DAR), 1-04/8-05*, 2-04/46-07* (DAR), 8-04 and 19-05*, 5-05/15-04*, 6-05/37-09* (DAR), 12-05/22-07*, 31-08 (DAR)/27-05* (DAR), 27-06 (DAR)/26-09*, 3-07/38-08* (DAR), 7-07/39-07* (DAR), 12-07, 10-09 and 17-07*, 4-08, 14-08, 24-08*, 27-08)/8-09*, 6-09 and 35-09* (DAR), 11-09 and15-09*, 34-09* (DAR), 38-09 (DAR), W1-10*, 1-10 and 8-10, 23-10* (DAR) and 26-10 (DAR).
Nos. 32-09*(DAR) and 41-09 (DAR) were detected on Pool 19 on 11 June and in flight over the northern part of the refuge on 24 June. No subsequent reports.
No. 13-08* was detected in flight near Necedah NWR on 6 April. No subsequent reports.
No. 19-09 was last detected in flight over the refuge area on 24 April. No subsequent reports.
Nos. 17-03/3-03* were last observed on western Pool 9, Necedah NWR on 16 June. Both have nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

Adams County: 33-07/5-09*, 7-09*, 24-09, 42-09* (DAR) and 21-10 (DAR)

Wood County: Nos. 12-02/19-04*

Monroe County: Nos. 16-04/4-09*, No. 12-09   remained on Sprague Pool through at least 11 June. He was next detected in flight over the refuge on 17 June and NW of Oakdale, Monroe County, on 22 June. No. 29-09 Monroe/Juneau Counties. Molting is suspected.

Marathon County: No. 28-05* (DAR), 28-08, 5-10*, 6-10* and HY2010 DAR nos. 19 and 25

Dodge County: Nos. 29-08, 18-09, 25-09* and W3-10*

Portage County: Nos. 3-10*, 9-10*, and 17-10

Columbia County: 15-10 and 16-10*

Walworth County: No. 10-10*: A single Whooping Crane with sandhills was reported in, on 19 and 30 May.  Bands reported on 30 May match no. 10-10*.  No signals were detected during a ground search of the area on 7 June. There is no record of this bird ever returning to the central Wisconsin core area.

Michigan
No. 37-07 (DAR): A whooping crane reported in Jackson County, on 29 March was probably this bird. Identification was confirmed on 20 April. No subsequent reports.

Indiana
No. 27-07* was last reported with sandhills on her usual summering area in Kosciusko County, on the evening of 13 March. Her transmitter is suspected to be nonfunctional.

No Recent Reports:
-
No. 7-01*: Last reported NE of Horicon NWR, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, on 2 May 2010. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.
-No. 16-03 was last observed on Sprague Pool, Necedah NWR, on 6 May 2010. He has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.
- No. 14-05 was last observed on Necedah NWR on 18 May 2010. He has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.
-No. 13-07 was last recorded with no. 36-09* (DAR) on 24 November 2010. The signal of no. 36-09* (DAR) was detected at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Meigs/Rhea Counties, Tennessee, on the morning of 14 December. No. 13-07 has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.
-No. 20-05*: An unidentified whooping crane reported from Dike 17 WA, Black River SF, Jackson County, on 24 May 2010 have been no. 20-05*. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.
-No. 33-05* (DAR) was last reported with migrating sandhills in Ewing Bottoms, Jackson County, Indiana, on 25 February through 6 March 2010. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.
-No. 13-09 was last reported flying over Chassahowitzka NWR pensite, Citrus County, Florida, with no. 19-09 on 2 December.

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Date: July 3, 2011Reporter: Heather Ray
Subject: LOVELORN LEVILocation: Main Office

Number 5-01/Romeo/Levi had been searching for love since 2007 when his first mate was predated in Hernando County, Florida. He succeeded in finding another only to lose her to a bobcat. Perhaps because he had lost two loves to predators or because there weren’t a lot of available females of his kind; for whatever reason, this unlucky-in-love male Whooping crane – a member of the first-ever ultralight-led cohort from 2001, decided to select a pretty little female Whooper named Peepers as his eventual soul mate.

Peepers was safe from wild predators so the chances of him losing her were slim. Peepers was one of two captive Whooping cranes that resided at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. She shared her space with a male whooping crane named Rocky but theirs was a purely platonic relationship. Whereas 5-01/Romeo/Levi had other intentions.

Six times in the past few years, our lovelorn male crane has flown to the park to visit Peepers in her enclosure. And six times his visits ended with him being crated and transported away. Not the happy ending he had been seeking.

In spring 2007, a few weeks after his first mate was found dead, 5-01/Romeo/Levi paid his first visit to Peepers, much to the surprise of the staff at the Park in Citrus County. Costumed handlers, who were nearby monitoring the newest cohort of ultra-cranes were called in to remove him so that he would continue to migrate with the rest of the Eastern Migratory Population. They released him in Pasco County and the next day he returned to Peepers.

He was captured again and this time driven to the Hiwassee State Wildlife Area in southeast Tennessee. Later that spring, he returned to Wisconsin to summer and migrated south to Florida the next fall. In the spring months of 2008, 5-01/Romeo/Levi met a new lady crane and on at least two occasions, over the next two years, he brought her to the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park to also visit Peepers. In the spring of 2010 a bobcat predated his second love.

Again he returned alone to Wisconsin to spend the summer and migrated back to Florida last fall – by himself – and promptly stopped in to visit his girl Peepers.

What to do with a tenacious-in-love Whooping crane who refuses to leave his captive love? After much consideration and weighing of options, the tough decision was made to pull him from the migratory population and allow him to stay with Peepers.

But what to do with Rocky – Peepers’ buddy with whom she shared her enclosure? You see, Rocky had a condition which made it difficult for him to vocalize and produce unison calls – and that is how Whooping cranes and other crane species reinforce pair bonds. 5-01/Romeo/Levi was a professional unison caller as evidenced by the two previous loves he had wooed and then lost.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C had been on the waiting list of facilities approved for an educational Whooping crane but needed more time to get their display ready. Officials at Homosassa Park agreed to keep all three Whooping cranes until the National Zoo was ready to receive their newest resident Rocky.

Park staff divided the Whooping crane exhibit and kept Rocky and Peepers together on one side and placed 5-01/Romeo/Levi, who will from now on, officially be known as Levi, on the other side. Too much change at once can cause displaced aggression.

A few weeks ago, Rocky made the trip to the nation’s capital. A few days ago, Levi made the trip through the gate, to at last be with his love Peepers.

Homosassa resident and Craniac Barbara Neibrand visited the pair earlier this week and sent the following photo.

Barbara went on to say “both Peepers and Levi were out, probing in the water and digging in the ground, looking like they had been together for a long time.

I talked to a park host who said that when they opened the gate between the two birds Peepers seemed excited and was dancing around and flapping her wings.”

 

 

 

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Date:July 2, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:MORE VIDEO TO VIEWLocation: Main Office

I abashedly have to admit that it has been quite a while since I visited the website of the Whooping Crane Conservation Association (WCCA). That was recently remedied when I received an email from the WCCA's Chester McConnell.

Chester had seen my June 26th Field Journal entry in which I provided a link to a video produced in the United Kingdom about their 'Great Crane Project.' This prompted Chester to let me know that the WCCA had recently placed an old video on its website that he believes few people will have ever seen.

The video, made by Florida Fish and Conservation Commission Biological Scientist, Marty Folk and his crew, is about Lucky, the first Whooping crane to fledged in the Florida non-migratory population. It may be the only footage documenting a Whooping crane pair's entire breeding season, from nest-building through the successful fledging of a chick. (Photo: Chick Lucky with parent)

According to Marty, "This 2002 chick was the first Whooping crane to fledge in the wild in the United States in 63 years (all others had fledged in Canada). Not only had Lucky become the first whooping crane to fledge in the wild in the U.S. since 1939, he was the first Whooping crane to fledge as a result of a reintroduction of this species. Landowners adjacent to the nest marsh named the chick “Lucky”, largely due to the fact that there were many attempts by predators to catch the chick."

The video is in two parts and features Lucky from hatching to his first flight. Click here to be taken to the WCCA website to read the background article.

You can use this link to be taken to the video gallery where you can click on Part 1 and Part 2 to see Lucky's whole story.

While you are on the WCCA website, you might want to take the time to check out their entire Video Gallery. I did, and I echo what Chester said to me in his email ..."It still is emotional for me every time I view it."

Thanks for the walk down memory lane Chester...and for the opportunity to share some awesome footage with our readership.

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Date:July 1, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:WHOOPER NOTESLocation: Main Office

8-11
Number 8, the 2011 chick with aggression issues, was not shipped to Wisconsin with his classmates. He was held back at Patuxent where the crane ecology crew will carry on his training as well as continuing attempts to temper his hostile nature. If he loses his bully-like behavior, he may still be a candidate for the ultralight-led Class of 2011. If not, he could be considered for inclusion in the non-migratory flock being raised at Patuxent for release in Louisiana. (Photo right by OM Intern Geoff Tarbox)

W4-11
We've had no reports about the surviving wild-hatch chick of the 2011 season -one of the four hatched. As a result, we presume it is still alive. WCEP tracker, Eva Szyszkoski advised that the parents, 2-04 & D46-07*, are still believed to be on their territory near OM's old East Pensite on the Necedah refuge, but if they are still there, they and their chick are doing a great job of keeping out of sight. (Photo left by WCEP Tracker, Eva Szyszkoski)


DAR
As of June 28th, the International Crane Foundation's Direct Autumn Release (DAR) program had eight hatched chicks and 6 eggs left to hatch. Assuming all successfully hatch, two of the chicks are likely to be genetic holdbacks. If all six eggs hatch successfully and all the chicks stay healthy, the DAR program will have 12 young cranes to transport in late summer to their new release site at the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area.

LOUISIANA
At one point the chicks designated for this program in 2011 numbered 21, but that number was reduced to 19 when one was euthanized due to a congenital defect, and another died of unknown causes. Tentatively, these cranes are scheduled for transport to Louisiana in October/November.

FLORIDA
This bit of Florida news will be of interest to fans of 5-01, the 2001 Whooping crane dubbed 'Romeo' by journalist Barbara Behrendt of the St. Petersburg Times for his continued return to the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park to visit resident female Whooping crane, Peepers. After several captures and relocations, it was concluded he was not going to cease his visits to the Park, so it was decided that he would be granted his apparent wish and be allowed to make it his permanent home.

Via a circuitous route, we received photos and an update about 5-01 and Peepers from Susan Lowe, Wildlife Care Supervisor at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Susan's photos captured the introduction of 5-01 to Peepers and their first moments together. Susan said, "We have been watching them, and so far so good. Peepers is in molt so her plumage is not up to her pristine look! #5-01 looks great and is happy to be allowed with Peepers which I feel the feeling is mutual."

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Date:June 30, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: Whooped Yet?Location: Main Office

The 2011 Give A WHOOP! campaign launched on Tuesday, June 28, coinciding with the arrival of the Class of 2011 at their brand new Wisconsin home at the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area.

Help us celebrate our new site and 2011's ten gorgeous, cinnamon- colored young Whooping crane colts by Giving a WHOOP! You might just be lucky enough to have your name drawn for a fabulous vacation in Costa Rica. It's quick and easy to Give A WHOOP....just click here.

As in the past, with every 50 WHOOPS that come in we will draw for a Give A WHOOP! t-shirt. The first name drawn was Dave Sapko from Texas, who we will be in touch with shortly to ask his size so we can get his Give A Whoop! t-shirt off to him. Congratulations Dave and thanks for WHOOPING!

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Date:June 30, 2011 - Entry 1Reporter: Joe Duff
Subject:H20 = CHALLENGESLocation: White River Marsh, WI

[This update by Joe would have appeared here several days ago were it not for a combination of it hiding away in the bowels of my computer and my having a Senior's Moment. Apologies for lack of timeliness. Liz]

The one disadvantage to working in a wetland is water.

Or maybe the water is supposed to be there -- and we aren’t. Either way, building a pen in a marsh is challenging, especially in one of the wettest years on record.

The area we selected for the pens is a little ridge of high ground a couple of feet above the water table. It’s wide enough to create a runway (with modifications) and high enough for the dry section of our pen. To create the wet pen we had some heavy equipment come in and dig a scrape in the sand and clay that we hoped would eventually fill with water.

There are two parts to our pen design. The dry section is made of posts and stringers and lined with steel siding that we bury a foot into the ground to discourage digging predators. The solid sides provide a visual barrier so we can sequester the birds if needed and work outside the pen without them seeing the activity. It also provides storm and wind protection. Attached to that is the wet pen made of chain link and build in water deep enough for the bird to learn to water roost at night. Both areas are top netted and protected by an electric fence.

This would be an ideal location if it were surrounded by wetland on three sides instead of four. Unfortunately, between the access road and us is a two hundred feet section of marshy lowland and a little stream.

Jim Holzwart, the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area Manager put all the permits in place to extend the roadway to cover this span and include a culvert for the stream.  That sounds simple enough but with the constant rain, the area is so wet that even the bulldozer had problems. It didn’t get stuck but, despite the expertise of Dean Petraszak of Petraszak Excavation it couldn’t do much of a job of smoothing the muck and mud until it dried out a little.

In the meantime everything we needed to construct the pens had to be carried through that mess to the pensite. When Dean came back to spread out the extra sand he had left piled up to dry, he used his bulldozer to carry out our materials. Wisconsin DNR’s Jerry Reetz also used a bobcat to help deliver posts and steel siding. Each trip saved us hours of hard labour but churned up the mud and sand into a soupy quagmire.

The long range forecast called for constant rain and we needed a back-up plan in case it didn’t stop and the road never dried out. The first idea was to set up our travel pen out of sight further down the runway. In an emergency we could keep the birds there and give ourselves a few extra days. The second plan was to concentrate on the dry pen. We could then walk the bird out of sight while we set up the chain link fence and covered it with top net.

Just when you think things couldn’t get wetter, the heavy rain started. We had been working in rain all along but when it hit midday we were forced by the lightning to retreat. It came down in sheets and over the next 15 hours dropped more than five inches. When we finally got back into the site the road was awash. Little bridges we’d made to cross the stream were gone and the wet pen scraped was 3 feet deep -- and the clock was ticking.

David Sakrison is the author of Saving the Ghost Birds. It is a book about the efforts of Mary and Terry Kohler who have contributed to the conservation efforts of cranes for many years. David lives in Ripon just a few miles away. He volunteered to help and was there almost every day. He even recruited his good friend Tom Avery. Not a typical writer bent over his computer every day, David can slug it out with the best of them.

Doug Pellerin has been a longtime supporter. He also lives close by and came out to help even bringing his son Chris. Whenever Jerry was off duty and not volunteering for the Berlin Conservation Club, he came to help. We hired a strong, young basketball coach named Martin Esters, and together we worked through everything except the lightning.

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Date: June 29, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter: Joe Duff
Subject:THE BIRDS ARE COMING!!!Location: White River Marsh, WI

The birds are coming! The birds are coming! It rang in our ears like the warnings of Paul Revere as he rode through the countryside. It’s an inevitability, like taxes and drives us and a long list of volunteers to work through the rain and mosquitoes.

Monday was clean up day. A time to finish all the little things that always take longer than you estimated. We had to run three strands of electric fence wire and test it. We laid out 400 feet of fire hose to pump water into the gravity feed tank. We also shoveled a yard of gravel under the feed shelter and at the front gate where the mud refuses to dry. Hardest of all was cleaning up the mess that has evolved over a week.

WRM staffer, Jerry Reetz, brought over the bobcat to cut the brush behind the pen and eliminate any cover that could be used by a predator. He also filled in a rut in the runway, helped us move all the tools back to the truck and cleared a spot for a blind we hope to construct once the dust settles.

We had to leave at 3:00pm to pick up a van we rented in Appleton to transport the birds from the airport to WRM. Naturally we didn’t get everything done and we had to push our departure time. Heather called the rental agent to explain our dilemma and promised him a big tip if he stayed open a few more minutes. We got there 11 minutes after closing but he wouldn’t take the tip.

Geoff and I started at six Tuesday morning to finish off the last details. The only remaining obstacle was the pump to provide fresh water for the birds. At Necedah we had a solar pump that trickled water in the pans all day. After the bugs were worked out, it was a care-free system that saved a lot of labor carrying buckets. We don’t have that luxury here, so my solution was to provide an elevated 100 gallon storage tank just outside the pen. Garden hoses supply water to the water pans that will have to be cleaned and refilled every day. The only problem is getting the 100 gallon tank filled.

The plan was to draw from the wetland, but the pump I bought would not cooperate. There must be fifteen types of fire hose, each with a different thread and we didn’t have any two that matched. Eventually Jerry came to the rescue again and brought over his pump. We drew out of the wet pen while is it still clean and the birds haven’t popped in it yet.

Next we have to find a 200 gallon tank we can put in the back of the truck. We will fill it with fresh water and pump that to the storage tank at the pen. The four hundred feet of hose we have should get us far enough away so the birds won’t hear the gas engine. The 100 gallons we have now should hold us for a few days giving us time to finally figure out a good system. By 11 am Tuesday the pen was complete and ready for birds.

Mike Frakes from Windway Capital landed the Cessna Caravan at Wittman Field in Oshkosh shortly after noon and pulled up to the ramp. In minutes we had ten birds and two bags of feed loaded into the air conditioned van. Driving slowly around corners and preparing for stop signs a half mile out, it took us an hour to make the 30 mile trip.

The road into the pen is drying fast and each day it gets a little firmer. I backed in half way without sinking, so I decided to go for broke. That lasted another hundred feet before we sank to the axles. At least we were closer and could carry the individual crates to the pen. Once they were all inside, we lifted the gates and introduced the birds to their new home.

Joe Duff and Barry Hartup begin unloading the chick crates from the mired down van. ICF Vet Interns assist carrying crated chicks from the van to the pen. ICF's Dr. Barry Hartup and the Vet Interns get ready to check out the chicks.

At this stage the birds are called colts and it is easy to see why. Long gangly legs, a little wobbly from the long trip soon steadied up as they checked out the new digs. Dr. Barry Hartup from ICF came out to help as did volunteer vet Dr. Lisa Peters from Appleton. Geoff stayed for a couple of hours watching for lameness or aggression, but all was fine.

Costumes release the Class of 2011 chicks from their travel crates. Welcome to Wisconsin! Geoff points out the water pan to the newly arrived young cranes. The cranes stretch their legs and wings after their air and road journey.

Geoff stayed in the pen for a couple of ours with the newly arrived juveniles to check for any post-travel physical problems and to watch for any signs of aggression.

Our thanks to David Sakrison for today's photographs!

We headed out for breakfast at five in the afternoon but on the way ran into Brooke and Caleb arriving from Maryland with the big trailer. After getting them parked we finally had our first meal of the day.

We took Brooke and Caleb to the site and I got to see it for the first time through their eyes. With lots of help from our friends, we built a wet pen, a dry pen, a road and a runway despite eleven straight days of rain including one five inch downpour.

Special thanks to David Sakrison who showed up almost every day, and to Doug Pellerin for all their help. Mostly we owe a great big thank you to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for everything from searching for a usable location to rushing the permits, and from the warm welcome to pulling the van out with the bobcat.

[Operation Migration also wants to acknowledge here the British Columbia based Charles E. Fipke Foundation. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Charles Fipke's Foundation for the generous contribution which funded the construction of the new White River Marsh site.]

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Date:June 29, 2011 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:CLASS OF 2011 ARRIVES IN WISCONSINLocation: Main Office

Courtesy of a ride in Windway Capital's jet aircraft, the Class of 2011 touched down at the airport in Oshkosh, WI shortly after lunch time yesterday. Joe and Geoff were on hand to transfer the chicks, each in their own specially designed crate, to the waiting van for the road trip to the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area.

One hour later they were at their destination and almost to the pensite when the van got stuck in the muddy road. Fortunately the pen wasn't too far away. The crates were carried out of sight of the van, the chicks released, and they happily walked with the costumes into the pen.

Dr. Barry Hartup and two vet interns were on hand to check the youngsters over and gave them all two thumbs up. After that, Geoff spent the next couple of hours in the pen keeping an eye on the chicks as they explored their new home to make sure they were adjusting okay.

Around 6:00pm last evening Brooke and Intern Caleb Fairfax completed their long drive from Laurel, Maryland. Brooke drove our white truck hauling his St. Marks and Patuxent 'home', the Sierra travel trailer. When I spoke to the crew around 7:00pm EST they were all busily getting it unhitched, set up, and hooked up to power.

More on the arrival along with photos from Joe will appear here very soon.

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Date: June 28, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:GIVE A WHOOP!Location:Main Office

We hope you'll WHOOP -- LOUD & PROUD!

Many of you will remember that in July of 2009 we launched the Give a WHOOP! campaign which was designed to celebrate and commemorate reaching a milestone – a 10,000 mile milestone! And on November 15, 2009 we did indeed reach that milestone – and since that momentous day the total number of miles that we’ve led Whooping cranes in flight now stands at 12,385

The campaign was so successful that when we didn’t continue it last year, many of you asked us to bring it back… Well, we listened to you and are thrilled to announce that the Give A WHOOP! campaign is BACK!!!

And there is a LOT to WHOOP! about this year -- A brand new training site, which is all ready to go – AND a brand new Class of Whooping crane chicks, which is arriving today!

Here’s how the campaign works: We’re inviting you to WHOOP loud and proud and show your support for Whooping cranes. Each WHOOP! you contribute for $10 ea. will not only help us to carry out this year’s work but will also include you in some very special thank you draws, which will be made throughout the campaign and at the conclusion of the 2011 ultralight-guided southward migration.

For each $10 WHOOP we will enter your name into a large bin and you could receive, as a special thank you: An “I Give A WHOOP” T-shirt, OR a one week stay, INCLUDING AIRFARE TO BEAUTIFUL COSTA RICA! Here’s a link to a photo gallery to show you the accommodations and the area in Costa Rica where, if your name is drawn for this thank you prize, you will be staying.

We will also include your name and your special message on this page to let everyone know your commitment to Whooping crane conservation and you will also receive the EarlyBird E-bulletin, which will be delivered each morning of the fall migration to let you know what is happening (or not) each day!

We invite you to Give a WHOOP! and show the world you care about wildlife, and especially Whooping cranes. Our hope is to collect 5,000 Whoops at $10 each – which will go a long way to helping us help Whooping cranes!

WHOOP-ing is easy – just visit this link to get started.

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Date:June 27, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:BIG BIRDS LOSE OUTLocation: Main Office

In the June issue of Bird Studies Canada's newsletter, one item in particular caught my attention. Titled, "Big Birds Lose Out in a Crowded World," it is reproduced below.

"One of the world’s largest species of bird is on the brink of extinction according to the 2011 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List for birds, just released by BirdLife International. The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) has been up-listed to Critically Endangered, the highest level of threat.

Hunting, disturbance, and habitat loss and fragmentation have all conspired to reduce this magnificent species to perhaps as few as 250 individuals. Standing a meter [~3.3 ft] in height and weighing in at nearly 15 kg [~33 lbs], the Great Indian Bustard was once widespread across the grasslands of India and Pakistan but is now restricted to small and isolated fragments of remaining habitat.

"In an ever more crowded world, species that need lots of space, such as the Great Indian Bustard, are losing out. However, we are the ones who lose in the long run, as the services that nature provides us start to disappear,” said Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife’s Director of Science and Policy. This year’s update brings the total number of threatened bird species to 1253, an alarming 12% of the world total.

BirdLife International is the official Red List Authority for birds, tasked with evaluating the status of the world’s entire avifauna and keeping these data up to date. As of 2011, BirdLife has established that worldwide 1,253 bird species (12.5% of the total, or one in eight) are threatened with extinction). These species have small, fragmented or dwindling ranges, tiny populations, or are declining rapidly. Of these,189 species are considered Critically Endangered and face an extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future."

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Date: June 26, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:WORTH THE WATCHLocation: Main Office

Our thanks to Massachusetts Craniac Fred Wasti for alerting us to this excellent 16 minute video on the United Kingdom's (UK) 'Great Crane Project' (GCP). The GCP is an attempt to restore cranes to an area that last saw cranes four centuries ago.

Those familiar with the intricacies of hatching, rearing, and condition Whooping cranes, will struck by the many similarities featured in the video, and intrigued by the many differences.

Among others, similarities include the goal of reintroducing 25 breeding pairs, exercising methods, and teaching foraging. Strikingly different is the less rigorous isolation protocols, thanks to which, the video is able to capture footage of elements of rearing and conditioning that we are not able to. Also different is their training protocol includes teaching predator avoidance. Watching the costumes break up chick fights was something we all will otherwise rarely if ever see.

This video gave me my very first view of a crane chick hatching in the wild, and of a parent feeding its chick. Definitely one of those 'awww' moments.

In the fact department, in 16 years of breeding the GCP population has fledged 4 chicks. The EMP has also fledged four chicks but in just ten years - and this despite nest abandonments/Black flies. The EMP fledged chicks are W1-06, W2-06 (deceased) W1-10, and W3-10. With luck, W4-11 will survive to increase the number of EMP fledged chicks to five.

Click here to watch the video. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Date:June 25, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:MORE PENSITE PROGRESSLocation: Main Office

As the date for the arrival of the Class of 2011 from Maryland creeps ever closer, so does the completion of the pensite at White River Marsh State Wildlife Area.

The dry pen is now top netted, but the panels remain untouched because the wet weather has made it impossible to do the camouflage painting. If the forecast for a couple of dry days holds true, the camo painting will get accomplished on Sunday.

Windway Capital pilot Mike Frakes is teed up for the flight from Maryland to Wisconsin on Tuesday, June 28th with a precious cargo of crane chicks - provided weather doesn't play havoc with that schedule too.

I've lost count of the number of flights and crew hours that Sheyboygan, WI based Windway Capital has donated to the project over the years, but as always, we are enormously grateful to Terry and Mary Kohler for their generosity and support.

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Date:June 24, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: What Birds Teach usLocation: Main Office

David Yarnold, President and CEO of the National Audubon Society recently wrote an article that appeared in the Huffington Post. In his article titled, What Birds Teach us: Don't take them -- or the Future -- for Granted, Yarnold notes that more than 20 once common birds have fallen victim to increasing threats from climate to loss of habitat to pollution.

Why should we care? The reason says Yarnold, is, "Because thriving birds = thriving ecosystems. And thriving ecosystems = clean air, clean water, abundant food and great habitat. And those are places where people thrive, too. This isn't just about doing what's best for birds; it's about doing what's best for our kids and the generations to follow."

Click this link to read the full article.

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Date:June 23, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:PENSITE PROGRESSLocation: Main Office
The weather has been playing havoc with the work schedule at the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area pensite, but there has been considerable progress nonetheless.

The crew had to call off work Tuesday afternoon when torrential rain and lightning threatened safety. In fact a lightning strike at a nearby dwelling (from which we run power to our Jamboree motorhome) is strongly suspected. Why? Because the Jamboree gave Heather a 'lifter' when she used the key to open the door...and the two inches of water she was standing in at the time meant she wasn't exactly grounded.

Everything inside the Jamboree that was plugged in, including the DSL router from the CraneCam, is either 'fried' or, only semi-functioning and displaying weird after affects. As they get waterlogged, Joe buys another pair of boots. He's now got four pairs on rotation. Such are the challenges of this year's early season. Just what we needed - more challenges. NOT!

Pensite construction continues, albeit not quite at the pace it would go forward in dry conditions under sunny skies. The Class of 2011 is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, June 28th, hope the weatherman gives us a break between now and then. Geoff is on the road to WRM from Maryland and should arrive in Wisconsin sometime today.

Check out the progress in the photos below that Heather sent.

ABOVE: The view from the future feed shelter looking out to the wetpen.

BELOW: Volunteers Doug and Chris Pellerin help Joe install the gates leading to the wetpen

ABOVE: Steel siding is used on the sides of the dry pen. This provides a visual barrier allowing handlers to arrive and not be seen by the young cranes. It also helps to block wind, and provide shade on hot, sunny days. The siding is buried in a trench approximately 18" deep (really difficult to dig!) to deter any predators from digging underneath.

BELOW: A large, vibrating roller arrives to help compact the soil of the grass training strip.

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Date: June 22, 2011Reporter: Geoff Tarbox
Subject: Good news keeps coming!Location: Laurel, MD

Yesterday we got the whole Class of 2011 together at last in the White Series wet pen! (Minus 8-11, but more on that later.) Now, this isn’t the first time they’ve been together. By now, they’ve been walked together and they’re training together as one big solid unit. But now they’re starting to share some quality bonding time together! Isn’t this magical?

First off, I got some not so hot news about our delinquent 8-11. I found out Monday that his chances of making the cut for this year’s migration are looking bleak. I’m honestly not surprised. Ship date is around the corner, and he’s just not making enough improvement. The only bird he won’t attack on sight is 6-11 - and even then…. He has zero interest in playing nice with any of the other birds. He’s even gunned after the senior birds, 1-11 and 2-11.

What’s sad, is that his scuffle with 2-11 happened Tuesday morning. He also has a longstanding rivalry with 12-11 when we tried to socialize them in the White Series. It’s not uncommon to see him pacing the fence just ahead of 12-11, staring her down. But then again, 12-11, despite being the flock’s littlest sister, has the cajones to not let herself be intimidated by the thug. I’ve seen her pace the fence behind 8-11 and act like she wants to climb it and get to his side, too. But this sort of hooplah is no good. Sure, 8-11 loves the costume to pieces. But everyone’s worried he’ll love 12-11 into pieces. And nobody wants what happened with #10 from 2008 happening again.

Oh well. 8-11 doesn’t know what he’s missing since the other ten little darlings are playing along just nicely. I started sitting with them around 10:00AM after finishing some of the morning routines, and then again after lunch. For most of the morning, they mostly hung out under a shade shelter where all the food was. Since it looked like it might rain, I guess they wanted to be ready to take cover in the dry spot.

Generally, everyone was playing nice. The only moderate exception was 1-11. Being the biggest and the oldest, he feels entitled to certain…privileges. Privileges like, say, he can nip at birds who happen to be in his way. Poor 10-11 didn’t seem to know 1-11 had these privileges, as he once felt 1-11’s beak tap him in the back while he was just lying down, minding his own business. (Photo: #1 eyes #11 preening.)

Naturally, this doesn’t exactly make 1-11 a model citizen. But as long as he doesn’t go for the face, peck too hard, or start chasing after birds like 8-11 does, then I won’t lose sleep over it. He’s not looking to throw down like 8-11, it’s just his way of saying “Get out of my way.” However, he did displace some aggression on 2-11 after his oh-so-successful walk with 8-11, but by the time I got to him, he’d already blown off all his steam.

By the time I got back from lunch, the sun was coming out, and it was starting to get hot. Now some of the birds were taking more of interest in that big ol’ water bucket in the middle of the field. I didn’t get a chance to see all of the numbers of the birds who went in. But I’m fairly certain my swamp girls 2-11 and 4-11 were in the crowd somewhere.

I saw 1-11 and 3-11 take a dip, so they’re clearly learning something from their swampy siblings. Though I wasn’t there to see it, every now and then the adult birds in the adjacent Silver Series would start calling. Unfortunately, the kids still seem to be at an age where an adult bird calling is the end of the world, and they’ll all start pacing nervously. Thankfully, Caleb, streetwise man he is, was there to just walk them around the pen and keep their minds off the panicking adults.

I have to say, it was kind of amusing to see nine or ten birds following after this white blobby thing casually strolling around the pen. What the birds were calling about is mystery, possibly even to themselves. It could’ve been there was Patuxent staff in the pen with them doing routine maintenance, but my money’s on the former. Still, all and all, I’d say it was a productive day.

Now if you excuse me, my evening’s about to go to Hades. Literally. My next video game is taking me to every last sticky, icky corner of the nine circles of Hell as described by the poet Dante. Lucifer is only kidding himself if he thinks he can snatch my bride-to-be and live to brag about it.

[Note: Geoff's video game likely took a back seat to packing up last evening. As usual, he's the 'advance man', so he's off to Wisconsin this morning to help to get things ready for the arrival of the Class of 2011. Westward Ho!!]

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Date:June 21, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:HUMANS MAY HAVE LOADED THE BASES, BUT...Location: Main Office

In the Science Matters column in the most recent David Suzuki Foundation E-Newsletter, Dr. Suzuki wrote about how population growth, technology, and consumption has been and is taxing our planet. We thought we’d share his thought provoking piece by reproducing it (with permission) in its entirety here.

HUMANS MAY HAVE LOADED THE BASES, BUT NATURE BATS LAST
by Dr. David Suzuki

“Humanity is facing a challenge unlike any we've ever had to confront. We are in an unprecedented period of change. Exponential growth is causing an already huge human population to double in shorter and shorter time periods.

When I was born in 1936, just over two billion people lived on the planet. It's astounding that the population has increased more then threefold within my lifetime. That staggering growth has been accompanied by even steeper increases in technological innovation, consumption, and a global economy that exploits the entire planet as a source of raw materials and a dumping ground for toxic emissions and waste.

We have become a new kind of biological force that is altering the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the planet on a geological scale. Indeed, Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen has suggested that the current geologic period should be called the Anthropocene Epoch to reflect our new status as a global force - and a lot of scientists agree.

As noted in a recent Economist article, "Welcome to the Anthropocene", we are altering the Earth's carbon cycle, which leads to climate change, and we have sped up by more than 150 per cent the nitrogen cycle, which has led to acid rain, ozone depletion, and coastal dead zones, among other impacts. We have also replaced wilderness with farms and cities, which has had a huge impact on biodiversity.

On top of that, according to the Economist, a "single engineering project, the Syncrude mine in the Athabasca tar sands, involves moving 30 billion tonnes of earth-twice the amount of sediment that flows down all the rivers in the world in a year." As for those global sediment flows, the article goes on to point out that they have been cut by nearly a fifth, eroding the Earth's deltas "faster than they can be replenished", thanks to the almost 50,000 large dams built in the world over the past half-century.

We now occupy every continent and are exploring every nook and cranny of the Earth for new resources. The collective ecological impact of humanity far exceeds the planet's capacity to sustain us at this level of activity indefinitely. Studies suggest it now takes 1.3 years for nature to restore what humanity removes of its renewable resources in a year, and this deficit spending has been going on since the 1980s.

For the first time in human history, we have to respond as a single species to crises of our own making. Until now, this kind of unified effort only happened in science fiction when space aliens invaded Earth. In those stories, world leaders overcame human divisions to work together against the common enemy.

Now, as comic strip character Pogo said in the '70s (appropriately, on a poster created for Earth Day): "We have met the enemy and he is us." Humans have long been able to affect the environment, but never before on such a scale. In the past, even people with primitive tools and weapons had impacts on local flora and fauna, as Tim Flannery outlined in The Future Eaters, and Jared Diamond described in 'Collapse'. Diminishing resources forced people to come to grips with the need to sustain their resources or to move in search of new opportunities.

The only way to come to grips with the crises and find solutions is to understand that we are biological creatures, with an absolute need for clean air, clean water, clean food and soil, clean energy, and biodiversity. Capitalism, communism, democracy, free enterprise, corporations, economies, and markets do not alter those basic needs. After all, those are human constructs, not forces of nature. Similarly, the borders we throw up around our property, cities, states, and countries mean nothing to nature.

All the hopes that meetings such as the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and the climate conferences in Kyoto in 1997, Copenhagen in 2009, and Cancun in 2010 would help us resolve major ecological challenges will be dashed as long as we continue to put economic and political considerations above our most fundamental biological, social, and spiritual needs.

We humans may be heavy hitters, but we must remember that nature bats last.”
 

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Date: June 20, 2011 Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:IT'S ALIVE! (ALMOST)Location: White River Marsh SWA, WI

After spending the winter in hibernation the CraneCam is almost ready to begin streaming LIVE video again! The ‘Beast” has had a major overhaul thanks to Mike Deline from Adoni Networks in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Mike made friends with the beast (whom he thinks is a female – personally I still think it’s a male) over the winter and spring seasons and has almost completely rebuilt it from the wheels up.

The original router has been replaced with a souped-up version, capable of providing failover to cellular, should the dsl line go down. It also allows for QOS or quality of service, which means that should the stream speed slow down due to traffic or signal loss, we can give priority to the video stream and the person controlling the pan/tilt/zoom so that there are no latency issues.

The wiring has all been reconfigured, making it much easier to decipher the yards of various colored wires and to determine which are connected to the various components and all firmware has been updated.

The trailer which houses the beast also holds four large batteries, which provide the juice upon which the beast feasts. Each has been tested and it was discovered that one of the four is running at only 35% capacity, which is creating a drain on the other three. Eventually, it will need to be replaced (at a cost of $500 and a day in the shop) but for now, the weak battery has been disconnected and we should be better off with the three that are at full capacity and not being drained by the fourth.

In the past a power sucking laptop was required inside the trailer to allow us to convert the video to a format suitable for streaming and then send it to wildearth.tv for broadcast. Now the laptop is no longer required IN the trailer but rather will be with with the dsl router and on a separate power supply.

One additional very cool feature is that we can now ‘drive’ the camera from our smart phones! Before volunteer drivers had to be stationed at their desktop or laptops. Those with smart phones can now take the wheel from wherever they may be.

On that note, we’d like to recruit a few more volunteer ‘zoomies’ – Basically,we set up a schedule of 1 or 2 hour time slots each week and ask you to fill in the times that you feel you would be able to drive the camera. We’ll set up a one-on-one training time with you so that you’ll feel comfortable behind the wheel and give instructions on what to do if something goes wrong. If you’re interested drop me a line at: heather(AT)operationmigration.org

All that’s left to do now is to erect a ‘receiving’ yagi antenna on something tall and run cable from the radio attached to that antenna down to the dsl router. The ‘sending’ yagi and radio, which sits atop the 30ft mast of the beast, will send the video signal to the receiving yagi, which then sends the signal via dsl (or as a failover, cellular) to wildearth.tv’s server, which will then send it to the internet for viewers to see... Sounds easy, right?


Joe and Mike have already made a number of trips to the top of a 40 ft silo to position the antenna, radio and the 10ft pole upon which they’re fastened. We then ran about 250 ft of cable from the radio – across the yard – to the location of the dsl router. We were able to get the two radios to talk to each other and actually see the image, but the signal wasn’t as steady as we’d like it to be. Mike determined that it’s just too long a run for the cable so now we’re onto Plan B. Details are still sketchy and being ironed out but we’re confident that the Beast will be back in action and broadcasting in time for the June 28th arrival of the Class of 2011. Wish us luck!

All of us at Operation Migration and myriad cranecam junkies want to thank Mike for all his hard work. After maintaining the beast over the winter, he delivered it on Friday and postponed his trip home, first one day then another. He spent the weekend in the same cloths working in the rain, on roof tops surrounded by mosquitoes and the ever present odor of pigs. He is a computer wizard extraordinaire and the people of La Crosse are lucky to have Mike Deline and Adoni Networks. 

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Date: June 19, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:EASTERN MIGRATORY POPULATION UPDATELocation: Main Office

Compiled from data supplied by WCEP trackers, this update gives the last known locations of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) as of June 11th.

The EMP currently consists of 53 males and 50 females for a total of 103 cranes. This reduction in population numbers is due to two recent mortalities. (see Mortality note below) The population number does not included W4-11, the only still surviving wild hatched chick of this season. (W3-11, chick of parents 9-05 & 13-03* disappeared June 10.)

Legend: * = Female; DAR = Direct Autumn Release crane; & = Pair; NFT = Non functional transmitter.

Mortality
The carcasses of breeding pair 24-05 & D42-07* were found on their Adams County territory June 13 by ICF Field Ecology Intern Mike Wheeler. Both carcasses were sent to the USGS National Wildlife Heath Center in Madison for necropsy. Preliminary results indicate the suspected cause of death for the female was septicemia, but analysis of lab cultures and tissues is pending. The carcass of the male, 24-05, was too decomposed to determine the cause of death and tissues were unsuitable for further analysis.

Of Note
After 40 days of incubation, a single egg was collected June 12th from the nest of 33-07 & 5-09*.

The only surviving wild hatched chick of the 2011 season is W4-11. It’s parents are 2-04 & D46-07*.

Photos provided by WCEP Tracker, Eva Szyszkoski.

IN MICHIGAN
Jackson County: D37-07

IN MINNESOTA
Rice County: 1-10, 8-10

COUNTIES IN WISCONSIN

Juneau

1-01

6-05 & D37-09*

7-07 & D39-07*

27-08 & 8-09*

 

D31-08 & D27-05*

6-09

11-09

14-09

 

15-09*

D35-09*

   

NNWR

11-02 & 30-08*

16-02 & 16-07*

13-02 & 18-02*

7-03 & 26-07*

 

10-03 & W1-06*

11-03 & 12-03*

17-03NFT & 3-03*NFT

18-03 & D36-09*

 

1-04 & 8-05*

2-04 & D46-07*+ W4-11

3-04 & 9-03*

8-04

 

9-05 & 13-03*

12-05 & 22-07*

19-05

D27-06 & 26-09*

 

3-07 & D38-08*

17-07*:

4-08

14-08

 

24-08*

10-09

12-09

D32-09*

 

D34-09*

D38-09

D41-09

W-1-10

 

15-10

16-10*

27-10*

 

Wood

12-02/19-04*:

     

Monroe

16-04/4-09*

29-09

   

Adams

33-07/5-09*

7-09*

24-09

D42-09*

 

D21-10

     

Marathon

D28-05*

28-08

5-10*

6-10*

 

D19-10

D25-10

   

Dodge

29-08 & 18-09

 25-09*

   

Dunn

D23-10*

D26-10

   

Portage

3-10*

9-10*

17-10

 

Walworth

10-10*

     

Unknown

5-05NFT & 15-04*NFT

12-07

13-08*

19-09

Missing More Than 90 Days
D33-05*NFT last reported March 6/10 - Jackson County, IN
7-01*NFT last reported May 2/10 Fond du Lac County, WI
16-03 NFT last observed May 6/10 - Necedah NWR
14-05NFT last observed May 18/10 - Necedah NWR
20-05*NFT may have been the crane reported May 24/10 - Jackson County, WI
13-07NFT last recorded Nov. 24/10 - Meigs/Rhea Counties, TN
13-09 last reported Dec 2/10 - Citrus County, FL
27-07* last reported Mar/13 - Kosciusko County, IN. Suspected NFT.

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Date: June 18, 2011Reporter: Joe Duff
Subject:PEN CONSTRUCTION UNDERWAYLocation: White River Marsh SWA, WI

Finding a new site is more complex than it seems. Like focusing a telescope, you make the coarse adjustments first, getting you close before you begin fine tuning for sharpness. In this case, the WCEP Science Team reviewed all the data that were collected around central Wisconsin to find an area relatively Black fly free. Then habitat was factored in until we had a region we thought Whooping cranes might like. This covered a large area of many possibilities like aiming your telescope at a section of the Milky Way.

The details began to take shape when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources brought together a team of biologists, hydrologists and land managers. Final adjustments were made until all of our attention was focused on a few hundred acres of the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area near the town of Berlin in Green Lake Country, Wisconsin.

It’s like hitting the plus sign on Google Earth and zooming in from a view of the entire continent. As you move closer, you must wait until each layer downloads and details are added. If you are like me, impatience makes you push the button too fast and everything slows down as your computer deals with too many requests. You keep pushing that plus sign getting closer until you are looking at a single property.

Now it is time to stop dealing with telescopes and computers and begin to put the facilities in place that will be needed sooner than we think. Along with the crane crew at Patuxent, Brooke, Caleb, and Geoff are imprinting eleven birds that are scheduled to be delivered on the 28th of June. That gives us about 10 days to get everything ready.

The pen is constructed in two parts. We have a dry pen where the birds can feed and a wet pen where they learn to roost in water at night. It is impossible to find a wetland right beside a perfectly smooth runway so we had to create one. On Friday at 7 AM, local contractor, Petraszek Excavation moved in their heavy equipment and began digging a scrape down to the water table. Unfortunately the path into the site is too narrow and wet to accommodate a pickup truck so first the road had to be extended. On a protected wetland that is not as simple as bringing in some crushed stone. Only the material that is already there can be used, and when it is all done it has to be put back the way it was.

Until that is finished, everything we need for the pen construction has to be hand carried 300 yards through high grass and muddy water. That included 27 4X4 posts, 6 rolls of chain link and 3 bundles of top net. A couple of trips back and forth with the bulldozer lightened that load. They even pulled a tractor and mower over the creek to cut the outline of the runway and flatten the many anthills.

We used a power auger to dig the postholes for the dry pen, and this morning we have volunteers showing up to set the posts, run the stringers, and begin to apply the exterior walls. This weekend and next week we will have to finish the dry pen, build the wet pen, and top net everything. We also have to manicure the runway for the small wheels on our aircraft.

Hopefully by then the new road will be dry enough to deliver the materials right to the pen site. We have a lot of work to do and every little advantage helps. Cross your fingers for dry weather.

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Date: June 17, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:THE 'BIG BOYS' ARRIVEDLocation: Main Office

The earth moving equipment arrived at the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area pensite yesterday. Everything is teed up for a 7:30 start this morning....assuming there is no rain to make the ground too soggy for these heavy duty guys. In season - off season, seems we just can't get away from being weather dependent.

Equipment on site and ready to start wet pen scrape. Pen supplies all lined up and ready to go.
Coming to this space soon...

...a wet pen, a dry pen and a grass runway.


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Date: June 16, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:ON YOUR MARK....Location: Main Office

...Get set...GO!

The race is on to prepare the pensite at White River Marsh State Wildlife Area in time to welcome the Class of 2011 at the end of the month. Hoping for a report and more photos to post here in the next day or so.

Loading fencing for the pen. ...and off to the site.

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Date:June 15, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: 2011 STATE OF THE BIRDS REPORTLocation: Main Office
The arrival of the June BIRDING COMMUNITY E-BULLETIN reminded us to let you know that the 2011 State of the Birds Report was released in early May.

Released at an event led by Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, the report finds that public lands and waters provide essential habitat for the survival of hundred United States bird species.

"In the U.S., about 90 percent of the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) represent some federal, state, or municipal land-category, a fact which stresses the importance of public lands to the Important Bird Area program. Some examples include the following:
… 97% of the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler’s distribution is on public lands.
… 79% of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse’s distribution is on public lands.
… More than 75% of the breeding season distribution of Sage Sparrows and Le Conte’s Thrashers is on public lands.
… Almost 46% of the distribution of the California Gnatcatcher, a threatened species, is found on Department of Defense lands such as Camp Pendleton.
…An average of 78% of the declining Hawaiian forest birds on Kaua'i exist on public lands owned by the state.

This recent State of the Birds Report comes at a time of extreme budgetary challenges, and it underscores the importance of maintaining support for the management of our public lands. The report’s findings also highlight the importance of a number of pending policy and spending decisions that the Obama Administration is now considering which could have far-reaching impacts on bird populations on public lands. Click here to see the complete, downloadable report.

While IBAs are mentioned only in passing in the report, their congruence with crucial public lands plays an important role in the mix of creative bird conservation measures existing in the U.S. today.

For additional information about worldwide IBA programs, including those across the U.S., check the National Audubon Society's Important Bird Area program website."

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Date:June 14, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:MEET OUR NEWEST TEAM MEMBERLocation: Main Office

Joining returning intern, Geoff Tarbox is Caleb Fairfax.

After finishing an internship in Oregon working at the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River with a salmon/sea lion conservation program, Caleb made his way to Maryland and jumped right into the work at Patuxent, assisting with the rearing and conditioning of the Class of 2011.

Originally from Concord, New Hampshire, Caleb moved with his family to Paulsbo, Washington at the age of two. By the time he was six, his family headed back east and settled in Frederick, Maryland where Caleb graduated with honors from Walkersville High School before continuing his education at the University of Maryland at College Park. Initially Caleb studied geology, world food shortages, and sustainable agriculture, but found his true calling in the biological and wildlife sciences.

Caleb is no stranger to Whooping cranes or to OM for that matter. During his undergrad year at the University of Maryland he worked as a laborer at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge Crane Facilities. It was there, he said, that he gained a deep appreciation and understanding of the plight of the Whooping Crane, the multiple projects aimed at their conservation, and the importance of what OM was doing.

In May of 2010 Caleb graduated with a degree in Environmental Science and a concentration in Wildlife Ecology and Management.

On a personal level, Caleb loves hiking and beautiful views, fishing, music, campfires, his family, and a good conversation with friends. From all reports, Caleb is proving to be a great addition to the team at Patuxent, and we extend to him a warm welcome to the OM Team.

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Date: June 14, 2011 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:NEW HOME FOR THE CLASS OF 2011Location: Main Office

As faithful Field Journal readers will know, the exhaustive search for appropriate habitat by researchers in the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership resulted in the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area (WRMSWA) being given the nod to become the second site in Wisconsin to be used for the reintroduction of rare Whooping Cranes.

With its areas of open marsh land, appropriate vegetation, and distance from large population centers, the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area compared favorably to habitat known to be successful for Whooping crane breeding. Located in the northwest corner of Green Lake County and the north east corner of Marquette County, WRMSWA is just six miles from the city of Princeton and three miles west of the city of Berlin.

Operating under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Operation Migration's personnel are beginning work on the construction of an enclosure consisting of dry section and a water-filled area to house the juvenile cranes in the Class of 2011. A grass landing strip will also be prepared to accommodate the ultralight aircraft used to flight train the young cranes over the summer.

Before the end of June, likely the 27th, the first chicks in the "Class of 2011" will arrive at the White River Marsh site from the captive propagation center at the U.S.G.S. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. Once the young birds are ensconced in their new summer home, the area immediately surrounding the pen and flight training area will be closed to the public in accordance with the isolation protocol under which the cranes are reared.

Throughout the summer and until early fall, Operation Migration staff will condition the Whooping crane chicks, imprinting them on the ultralight aircraft to prepare them for the biggest adventure of their young lives - their first migration.

Joe Duff, OM's co-founder and senior pilot said, "We are delighted to have the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area (WRMSWA) as our new summer training site. We are grateful to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the management at White River Marsh, both of which have been welcoming and a phenomenal help.

While no visitors are allowed near the pensite housing the young Whooping cranes, it will be monitored by Operation Migration's CraneCam. As in the past, a live, real-time video stream will be available to viewers via the internet. Watch this space for the CraneCam's season's launch. Organizations including the media are welcome to link to the video stream, or to embed the broadcast on their own websites. To arrange, contact infoAToperationmigration.org. (Replace AT with @.)

In the near future, a search will be conducted for a suitable location for an observation blind from which the public could view training flights.

Schools, service groups, and other organizations in the White River Marsh locale interested in having a representative appear to give a presentation about the Whooping crane reintroduction are invited to contact lizAToperationmigration.org.

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Date:June 13, 2011Reporter: Geoff Tarbox
Subject:CHICKS SOCIALIZE AND SWIMLocation: Laurel, MD

Well, the big trip to Wisconsin is just around the corner. New site, new pen, new birds, new everything!

But first things first. We've got to get our birds socialized and 'playing nicely' with each other. 6-11 to 12-11 were all having the health checks that all our chicks get before they’re shipped/flown out, so they had to sit Friday's lessons out. 1-11 to 5-11 had their health checks Thursday however, so their day was wide open.

Typically, when birds get their health checks, they’re always a little grouchy and sore from being picked up and handled. Not these guys though. They were ready to get back into the swing of things with training and socialization like nothing ever happened. Once training was completed, we had them over in the white series pens in no time flat. Brooke and I tagged each other out throughout the day as we watched over the birds.

We sat in the pen with them. We hid in the feed shed in the pen and peeked from behind the door. We even had a video camera set up so we could watch them on a TV while we basked in the glory of an air conditioned shed. The reason we just don’t sit in the middle of the pen with them the whole time is that we’re trying to socialize the birds, and to wean them off the costume a little. This is because once they are in Wisconsin, they won’t be getting the around-the clock attention we’ve been spoiling them with their whole lives. Like any adolescent, they've got to learn to be a little more independent, so we minimize or remove ourselves as a presence so that these little guys can learn to take care of themselves. How well did this go? We’ll talk more about it later.

When we first started socializing the kids, 1-11 (Photo to left) was a little…pecky. He/she whatever the deuce it turns out to be, never really picked fights. But he (its a he, why not?) isn’t afraid to remind the other birds who the top dog is with a few nips here and there. Especially if a bird is in the footbath he wants to use.

All in all, nothing too serious, and Friday he did a better job of 'keeping his hands to himself'. But then again, nobody’s willing to challenge his reign any longer, so he has no reason to throw his weight around as much. Since he’s king of the hill, he doesn’t scare as easily.

2-11 (photo to left) and 4-11, (photo to right) the belles of the ball, generally appear pretty mellow thus far and seem to have a good grasp on the whole weaning process.

Every now and then they peeped or paced, but they usually only did it because some other bird, who shall remain nameless until the next paragraph, got them worked up.

When this happened, I could tell who 2-11 was since she always runs towards the camera like any number of ill-fated girls in a slasher horror movie. But these two were never the first ones to break down, and they were the first to calm back down when they saw the costume again. Guess girls really do mature faster than boys.

Well, they are certainly maturing faster than 3-11 (photo to left) is right now. Brooke has nicknamed him ‘Squeaker,’ a fairly appropriate name since even if there is a costume keeping him company he spends most of the time peeping or pacing. Even though the cameras we use aren’t that great, (the controls are as responsive as a dead hippo) Brooke and I could usually tell which was 3-11 even if we couldn’t zoom in on his leg band. Nine times out of ten, he was pacing under the plastic decoy. But before I get too hard on the kid, he doesn’t pace frantically. He still pauses to forage or catch a drink. And to be fair, all the kids freaked out a little at one point or another, either because they heard rifles going off at Fort Meade, or adult birds in the next pens over were alarm calling. But 3-11 doesn’t wind down often, and usually gets other birds going if someone doesn’t come back for him. Hopefully, he’ll get better as the days go by.

And as for the junior member of this mini-flock, 5-11, I see him as a mix between 3-11 and 2 and 4-11. Generally, he’s a pretty level-headed bird, and he’s not as prone to panic attacks as 3-11. However, he also seems a little attached to the costume since he was the one who visited me the most when I was in the pen with him. What’s funny is, he’s actually a sneaky little guy. There were a couple times I didn’t know he was there until I turned around and saw him looking straight up at me. Unfortunately, if 3-11 starts getting jittery, (well, more jittery than usual) 5-11 is usually one of the first to panic with him. It’s kind of funny that he cracks this soon, since he’s got enough guts to challenge 1-11’s supremacy every now and then. Granted, he hasn’t come out on top yet, but his optimism is a welcome sight.

To help break up the monotony in the pen, as well as to help the kids cool off when it gets hot, not to mention keeping worrywart 3-11 occupied, Brooke and I took the kids over to a pond pen just a couple pens down. It’s essentially a bigger pen that’s flooded in the middle. We took them there three times on Friday. The first time, Brooke took them over there after training, but they wouldn’t get in the water. The second time, we took them out sometime before noon and that time they were a little more receptive. Brooke got #2, 3, and 4 to jump in while I got #1 and 5's feet wet - luring them with a red clover head no less.

#1, 2 and 4 seemed to enjoy the experience as they waded around, eating pond scum. 3-11 just kept wading in and out near the edge. 5-11 however, seemed to spend the most time of the bunch as he casually swam right to the middle and all around.

Eventually, they all just went in and out of the pond as they pleased. When we took them back to the pond a third time though, 2-11 and 4-11 surprised me a little. This time they seemed even more open to the experience. As fast as we got the pen secured, 2-11 and 4-11 jumped in and started giving themselves a bath. I couldn’t help but chuckle as I watched them flail about in the pond and dunk their heads beneath the water, flapping their wings all the while. Looks to me like we know who are swamp rats are going to be. But then again, they could’ve just been hot.

2-11 was panting all afternoon, so this little swim could’ve been what she needed. I also find it funny that she was only one of the girls who took a swim. #1, 3, and 5 just milled around and did their own thing. You could say that only the girls were smart enough to think to take a bath to cool themselves down. However, I think the guys were so tough and manly that they didn’t need to cool themselves down; they could take the heat like champions.

All and all, I think we took some good steps out there on Friday. I think we’re going to need a chainsaw or a cutting torch to cut the umbilical cord with 3-11 though. I love the kid to pieces, but I’m concerned that his worrisome and clingy attitude’s going to hold the group up and keep them from maturing sooner. Well, undoubtedly he’ll grow out of it soon enough. Come migration, I’m sure I’m going to be looking back fondly on these days as I (unsuccessfully) try to lead him back into his pen or try to slip him a little panicur.

Now if you excuse me, if I’m off to play a video game where I’m the biggest, baddest vampire hunter in all of Transylvania taking on Dracula, the Grim Reaper, Frankenstein, and pretty much anything else that goes bump in the night....with a whip. Yeah, bet you didn’t know vampires can be killed with whips. Neither do the vampires I’m pestering tonight.

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Date:June 12, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:MileMaker CampaignLocation:Main Office
Will you become a MileMaker sponsor and help fund the fall ultralight-guided migration of the Class of 2011? MileMaker sponsorships for this year are: $182 for one mile; $91 for a half mile; and $45.50 for a quarter mile. It's fast and easy so why not use the following link and become a 2011 MileMaker sponsor right now!!

This year sponsors will have an opportunity to receive a very special thank you gift! OM's multi-talented Richard van Heuvelen has donated one of his fabulous crane chick metal sculptures for us to use as a Thank You gift.

Richard's sculptures have sold for thousands of dollars, so you won't want to miss this opportunity to be entered for chance to own one of his valuable and unique pieces of artwork. (Representation of chick sculpture is shown in photo to the right. To see more of Richard's phenomenal metal sculpture art visit his website, The Wooden Anvil.)

MileMaker Sponsors' names will be entered in the Thank You Gift Draw as follows:
1 entry per quarter mile sponsorship
2 entries per half mile sponsorship
4 entries per one mile sponsorship

The entire southward migration consists of 1285 miles and to date only 73 miles have been sponsored so we have quite a ways to go. To help please visit the MileMaker page.

As an immediate special thank you for your support we'll send you a secret link where you can select a beautiful E-Calendar image to display on your laptop or PC desktop! Each month through to March 2012 features a full color photograph with calendar overlay. Here are a couple of sample images:

July 2011 August 2011 October 2011

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Date:June 11, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: WOOD BUFFALO-ARANSAS POPULATION UPDATELocation: Main Office
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Whooping Crane Coordinator, Tom Stehn, passed along the results of the spring survey of nesting Whooping cranes conducted in and around Wood Buffalo National Park in late May.

Mark Bidwell, Species at Risk Biologist and Whooping Crane Coordinator for the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) along with Kathy St. Laurent (CWS-Ontario) conducted the survey in cooperation with Parks Canada (PCA). They were accompanied on one day of the survey by John McKinnon of PCA. John will also be assisting Mark for the usual survey done in August to assess productivity.

Part of the survey was flown using a Bell 206 helicopter and the rest in a Cessna 210. All in all, it took almost 25 hours in the air to complete the survey. They also did reconnaissance of areas that hadn't been recently searched but identified as potential habitat.

Mark reported a record 75 nests were detected [one more than last year's record 74]. The nests found included a few in areas apparently being colonized by new nesting pairs. Mark said, "We made a number of changes to the way the survey is conducted on scientific and safety grounds, so we were happy to have good results despite the changes.

The nesting territories will be re-surveyed in August to determine and record nest productivity, and, at the same time, an additional 10 to 12 birds will be banded as part of an ongoing telemetry study. It is anticipated that the data collected from the telemetry study will provide biologists with, "a better understanding of the ecology of, and threats faced by, the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population," Mark said.

Mark's report went on to thank Kathy St. Laurent, John McKinnon, and especially Dave Duncan, Mark Wayland, Lesley Dunn, and Stu MacMillan who made their participation in this year's survey possible.

Tom Stehn told us that habitat conditions at Wood Buffalo were good, and that hopes were high for good production and an increase to the number in the western flock in 2011. "With luck," said Tom, "a record 300 Whooping cranes could make it to Aransas this fall!

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Date:June 10, 2011Reporter: Brooke Pennypacker
Subject: DELIVERING A CHUCKLELocation: Maryland

Sometimes the only difference between a chick picture and a Gary Larson "Far Side" cartoon is......NOTHIN!

Surf's up!

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Date: June 9, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:CLASS OF 2011 STATS UPDATELocation: Main Office

Now that the gender of the chicks is known (at least most) here is a re-cap the Class of 2011’s stats.

NUMBER

HATCH DATE

GENDER

ORIGIN

1-11

4/28

Pending

Patuxent WRC

2-11

4/29

F

Patuxent WRC

3-11

5/4

M

Eastern Migratory Population (09-03* & 3-04)

4-11

5/5

F

Eastern Migratory Population (09-03* & 3-04)

5-11

5/7

M

Calgary Zoo

6-11

5/8

M

Calgary Zoo

7-11

5/9

F

Eastern Migratory Population (16-07 * & 16-02

8-11

5/11

Pending

Species Survival Center

9-11

5/11

F

Eastern Migratory Population (15-04* & 5-05)

10-11

5/12

M

Eastern Migratory Population (26-07* & 7-03)

12-11

5/14

F

Species Survival Center

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Date:June 8, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:CLASS OF 2011Location: Main Office
The 11 of '11 are all still doing well according to Brooke, and he said that their lesson time has expanded to include a couple of hours a day of group socialization.

Yesterday, #1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 spent some supervised group socialization time out in the White Series pens, and for the most part got along without incident. Ditto for the group consisting of #6, 7, 9 and 10. Little #12's socialization outing consisted of exercise time with #10.

Today they will attempt to socialize #8, 'the monster' with #1. Hopefully the bigger and older bird will put #8 in his place and he will learn 'play nice' instead of persisting with his manic aggression.

Thursday and Friday are health check days. The vet staff at Patuxent will check half the chicks each day. This procedure is always performed prior to the birds being shipped to Wisconsin. As hooding and handling the chicks can be traumatic for them, the checks are done well ahead of the planned shipping date to give them time to recover.

The countdown for the Class of 2011's departure for their summer training ground at White River Marsh Wildlife Area has begun. Just 19 days from today the chicks will jetting their way to Wisconsin.

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Date:June 7, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:EASTERN MIGRATORY POPULATION UPDATELocation: Main Office

Compiled from data provided by WCEP trackers, this update gives the last known locations of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) as of May 28th. The EMP consists of 54 males and 51 females for a total of 105 cranes. The population number does not included the two surviving wild hatched chicks.

Legend: * = Female; DAR = Direct Autumn Release crane; & = Pair; NFT = Non functional transmitter.

IN MICHIGAN
Jackson County: D37-07

IN INDIANA
Kosciusko County: 27-07*NFT

IN MINNESOTA
Rice County: 1-10, 8-10

IN COUNTIES IN WISCONSIN

Juneau

1-01

6-05 & D37-09*

7-07 & D39-07*

27-08 & 8-09*

 

D31-08 & D27-05*

6-09, D35-09*

11-09

14-09

 

15-09*

 

 

 

NNWR

11-02 & 30-08*

16-02 & 16-07*

13-02 & 18-02*

7-03 & 26-07*

 

10-03 & W1-06*

11-03 & 12-03*

18-03 & D36-09*

17-03 & 3-03*

 

1-04 & 8-05*

2-04 & D46-07*+ W4-11

3-04 & 9-03*

8-04

 

5-05NFT & 15-04*NFT

9-05 & 13-03* + W3-11

12-05 & 22-07*

D27-06 & 26-09*

 

3-07 & 8-08*

12-07

17-07*:

4-08

 

14-08

24-08*

10-09

 

Wood

12-02/19-04*:

5-10*

6-10*

 

Monroe

16-04/4-09*

29-09

D32-09*

D41-09

  W-1-10      

Adams

24-05/D42-07*

33-07/5-09*

7-09*

24-09

 

D42-09*

D21-10

 

 

Marathon

D28-05*

28-08

D19-10

D25-10

Dodge

29-08 & 18-09 + W3-10*

 

 

 

Columbia

15-10

16-10*

 

 

Dunn

D23-10*

D26-10

 

 

Portage

3-10*

9-10*

17-10

 

Walworth

10-10*

 

 

 

Unknown

13-08*

12-09 

19-09

25-09*

Missing More Than 90 Days
D33-05*NFT last reported March 6/10 - Jackson County, IN
7-01*NFT last reported May 2/10 Fond du Lac County, WI
16-03 NFT last observed May 6/10 - Necedah NWR
14-05NFT last observed May 18/10 - Necedah NWR
20-05*NFT may have been the crane reported May 24/10 - Jackson County, WI
13-07NFT last recorded Nov. 24/10 - Meigs/Rhea Counties, TN
13-09 last reported Dec 2/10 - Citrus County, FL

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Date: June 6, 2011Reporter: Brooke Pennypacker
Subject:MONSTERSLocation: Laurel, MD

It is a simple fact of life that every country, every ocean, every state or state of mind has lurking somewhere within it, its very own unique monster. Scotland has the Loch Ness Monster; New Jersey the Jersey Devil; the Pacific Northwest Big Foot; Tibet the Yeti; and New York City Donald Trump. I still sleep with the lights on at night and the bedroom door open a crack. Doesn’t everyone?

Here at Patuxent, we have #8-11. Yes, our own little Demon Seed. Every so often it happens. A Whooper chick hatches from an egg with a yoke containing a special brew of “Whoop-ass”, and instead of a peep, its first vocalization is, “Make My DAY!”. It’s as if the fates replaced the tape of the brood call we play to the egg, with “Bad To The Bone”.

Not that Whooper chicks in the wild come into the world feeling the love. It’s more like the biblical Cain and Abel….or in this case, Diss-Abel. Two eggs are laid, both hatch, but only one survives long enough to have his own Facebook Page. Siblicide I think they call it. (So many “Cides”, so little time.)

And so it is our special challenge here at Patuxent to rewire their circuitry and socialize the chicks first into small cohorts, then combine the cohorts into a manageable flock able to follow Mother Ultralight on a migration down to sunny Florida in the fall.

How this is accomplished is a proprietary process, strictly TOP SECRET, the formula locked away safely in a “Hot Room” under 24 hour security because if this technique was ever to escape and infect the general human population it would be catastrophic beyond measure, and the human race would ultimately be doomed to live in peace, harmony, cooperation - - even love and perhaps tranquility.

Think of the fall out! Fox News would become a test pattern! Terrorists would be serving free drinks with not one, but two bags of peanuts on planes, and enrolling in American flight schools which specialize in landing instead of taking off. North Korean dictator Kim Ill Soon would be made Commissioner of a professional midget basketball league, Larry King would finally admit to starting out life as Loretta King, and every ”locked out” football player in the NFL would be a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars” with a former cover girl for a weight loss clinic as their partner. The Horror!!!!

But #8 is different. Only days old, he would literally slam his tiny body against the Plexiglas divider separating his pen from #11 in the next. This in a desperate, frenzied all out effort to maim, kill and otherwise destroy him. It was an amazing thing to watch. Pure, unadulterated aggression to the point of rage manifested itself in this mini ball of downy fluff, otherwise so almost intolerably cute and vulnerable.

From where does such emotion generate?. An evil demon perhaps, locked by some perverse twist of fate inside this small creature…the ultimate disguise. Does the exorcism exist powerful enough to expel the demon and save this precious soul? With so few birds this year we can’t afford to lose a single one, but at the same time, can’t jeopardize the safety of the other birds with this little agent of danger. Perhaps time and maturity will dampen the fires enough for us to replace rage with reason, and rehabilitate and reintegrate him into the flock. We can only hope while we add this to the many other challenges we’re to face in the coming days and weeks.

Meanwhile, we have noticed a marked decline in the number of dogs and cats in the area surrounding Patuxent, and two of the adult Whooper imprint models have gone missing without a trace. A Japanese film company called yesterday offering to purchase #8 to star in their next Godzilla sequel. Seems they had to put the old Godzilla out to pasture because he developed toe-jam from stepping on all those buildings and inhabitants of Tokyo. They called in an American consultant by the name of Dr. Scholl but Godzilla accidentally sneezed during treatment and stepped on him too. What’s a prehistoric monster to do? Then Hollywood called to inquire about casting #8 in the lead role of Hannibal the Cannibal Lecter in a movie titled “Silence of the Cranes”.

It is now day 25 in the life of this little fellow and he appears to have gotten much better. He now passes his future flock mates in the pen run without wigging out on them. Perhaps it’s the pink leg band we put on him to help put him in touch with his feminine side, or the music from the movie, ”The Exorcist” we have been playing to him in the pen.

But it’s like my dear friend and mentor Broadway Freddie used to say, “Never trust your mother unless your father’s with her.” Last night one of our crane handlers went into #8’s pen to take his picture. This morning the camera was found. The crane handler was not.

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Date:June 5, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: CONSERVATION PHOTOGRAPHYLocation: Main Office

An interesting article by Laura Tangley was recently published on the website of the National Wildlife Federation. The piece, titled "Focusing in on Conservation," is about the donation of time and images by professional photographers to help save imperiled wildlife and ecosystems around the world.

As you scroll down to read the article you will come to a section headed, "Pictures Worth a Thousand Words." For some spectacular images, take some time to watch the video featured there.

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Date:June 4, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:JOIN A FABULOUS WILDLIFE ODYSSEYLocation: Main Office

OM's own Walter Sturgeon, along with Dave Davenport, Zoologist and President of EcoQuest Travel, Inc., offer you a thrilling adventure to the bottom of the world - 'Odyssey to Patagonia’. Walter and Dave invite you to join them to explore the incredible wildlife and breathtaking scenery that makes Patagonia a magical place.

Comprising the southern-most parts of Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is a vast land of snowcapped mountains, cold oceans, windswept plateaus and unparalleled beauty. From Chile’s bustling capital of Santiago you will journey 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 participants will ply the Straits of Magellan in hopes of seeing Commerson’ and Peale’s dolphins, Magellanic penguins, and other seabirds. From Punta Arenas you will travel even 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.

The trip is designed to highlight the wildlife of Patagonia with a particular emphasis on bird diversity, but according to Walter, every opportunity will be taken to see mammals as well.

Also offered will be a fantastic post-trip excursion that concentrates on the wildlife of the Atacama Desert and high Andes Mountains of Northern Chile, the Lake District south of Santiago, or to the cultural sites on Easter Island.

Signing up for this thrilling adventure means you will also be helping Operation Migration as EcoQuest donates $200 to OM for each participant. For a complete itinerary or if you have any questions, contact Walt Sturgeon: sturgeon2(AT)embarqmail.com or Dave Davenport: info(AT)ecoquesttravel.net [Replace (AT) with @]

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Date:June 3, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: EASTERN MIGRATORY POPULATION NESTING/CHICK UPDATELocation: Main Office

This week's report indicated there are no longer any active Whooping crane nests on the Necedah refuge or surrounds. Monitoring of pairs will continue at least for a while yet in case there are any further re-nests beyond the two previously reported.

Two of the season's four wild hatched chicks, W3-11 and W4-11, still survive, and as of today, they are approximately 18 and 24 days of age respectively.

The refuge has advised that no further reports will be issued unless new re-nests are attempted.

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Date:June 2, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:CAPTIVE HATCH UPDATE and NESTING NEWSLocation: Main Office

CAPTIVE HATCHES
As we noted in earlier Field Journal entries, the captive propagation facilities are experiencing a season of very low egg production. The most recent news is that although it is possible that one pair at Patuxent may still lay, no more eggs will be forthcoming from either the Calgary Zoo or the Species Survival Center in New Orleans.

The 11 chicks in the ultralight-led Class of 2011 are doing very well Brooke reported, and according to Marianne Wellington at ICF, one DAR chick has hatched so far. She said they already have several other eggs, that are 'rocking and rolling.' Marianne noted that the last chick hatched on July 13 in 2010, and that late laying is still a possibility for two pairs of their Whoopers.

NESTING NEWS
A recent tornado in Wisconsin passed directly over Pool 9 on the Necedah NWR - a Whooper nesting area - and is likely the reason nothing was found at the nest site of pair 12-05 & 22-07* after the storm.

The re-nest of prolific female 9-03* (her mate is 3-04) produced two more eggs. The pair began incubation around May 18th, however their nest was also discovered abandoned. Fortunately their two eggs were salvaged and both appear to be fertile.

9-03* has so far contributed five offspring to the population; two in 2009, one in 2010, and two that are in the ultralight-led Class of 2011. Assuming the hatch and survival of those recently collected eggs, her contribution to the growth of the Eastern Migratory Population will jump to seven.

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Date:June 1, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:WRITING ABOUT WHOOPERSLocation: Main Office

Two articles by Kathlin Sickel were brought to our attention recently. You may enjoy reading them.

The first is Wild Whooping Crane Chicks Hatch in Wisconsin, and the second, How Young Whooping Cranes Learn Their Migration Lessons.

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