Place Your Bids!

This year’s fabulous and anxiously-awaited online auction began this week, so, if you don’t already follow Operation Migration’s Facebook page, it’s time to click FB_like

The auction items were posted last Saturday and will run until NOON, Central time on Saturday, October 7th.

The minimum bid amount listed on each item in no way reflects the fair market value of that item. Instead, the minimum bid amount was established to cover postage/packaging costs within North America.

To place a bid, just leave a comment on the photo of the item you are bidding on, including the amount of your bid. If you are outbid, you may increase your bid by posting your new bid in another comment.

At the conclusion of the auction, you will be contacted for payment information and, upon receipt of payment, your item will be sent to you. Happy bidding!

ALL funds raised will go to support Operation Migration their work with Whooping cranes in 2017. Here’s just a few of the items available! 

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Parent-Reared Releases

On Wednesday evening at 6:06 PM we released the last Whooping crane from the first cohort of five Parent-Reared birds.

We had the cooperation of two landowners whose property bordered a perfect wetland in Dodge Country.

Target female, 66-15 forages in local fields and roosts in this secluded marsh. If it all works out, she will mentor number 24-17 and teach him the ways of the wild. If that introduction takes a little time, 24-17 is in prefect habitat to safely roost in water.

In the spirit of real partnership, we had representatives there from the International Crane Foundation, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, the Wisconsin Departure of Natural Resources and Operation Migration all helping with the release.

Like many Wisconsin wetlands, this one is surrounded by cattails and there is only one access. We had to carry the crate containing 24-17 over stumps and under tree-falls along a narrow, overgrown dike on the edge of a forest.

We reached a place where we could see the open marsh across a shallow channel and through a thin curtain of tall grass.

It’s almost impossible to predict what a bird will do when it comes out of a crate after an hour and a half drive. It could have walked up the channel to the left or right or flown out in any direction. Instead, it walked out of the crate, straight across the channel and through the grass curtain as if it knew the plan.

Young male whooping crane #24-17 crosses a shallow channel of water.

Now the first hurdle is cleared, we have to hope the chick and the adult actually meet. Then they must form a bond and stick together until the chick learns how to survive.

Then there is that migration thing…

Harvey and the Whooping Cranes

We have all heard first-hand about the devastation caused by hurricane Harvey. The news was full of video clips of destroyed buildings and of communities trying to put their lives back together.

Now that process is underway, people are beginning to ask the less pressing questions like how wildlife survived. An estimated 60,000 people visit the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge each year mostly in the fall and winter when the Whooping cranes are in residence. 

Luckily, those birds are still in Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Canada where they are preparing their chicks for the 2500 mile migration to the Coastal Bend Region of Texas that will start in about a month. Now that the flood waters have subsided in most places, people are concerned about what the cranes will find when they reach their traditional winter habitat. 

Aransas NWR has been closed to the public since the hurricane and crews have been clearing toppled trees and making the roads passable again. They are just now reaching the salt marshes and coastal prairies where the Whooping cranes spend the winter.

On the surface things look good but three important factors must be evaluated before we know what obstacles these endangered birds may face this winter. 

The water in and around Aransas is a brackish mix of salt water from the Gulf and fresh water from the Guadalupe River. That delicate balance sustains the blue crab population, which along with the pistol shrimp and clams makes up the primary diet of wintering Whooping cranes. The last time the water salinity in the bay was disturbed, then by severe drought, a large percentage of the wintering cranes didn’t survive. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff have yet to determine if the series of fresh water ponds that the Whooping cranes use for drinking are contaminated. Most of that habitat is extremely resilient. Its vegetation evolved to withstand regular floods, but modern floods bring with them another hazard that wasn’t part of their evolution. Plastics, tires, human debris and even barrels of oil have been found in critical crane habitat. The solids can be cleaned up eventually but the liquid contaminates take much longer, and are far more expensive to remove. 

So if the Bay water is still brackish and there is fresh water to drink that isn’t contaminated with pollutants, the only naturally occurring flock of Whooping cranes may still have a good winter home. That’s important because they are bringing with them a record number of chicks this year. At the last count in Canada, 62 chicks have fledged including four sets of twins. 

Storms of increasing intensity and rising sea levels threaten the critical habitat used by Whooping cranes both in Texas and Louisiana where a reintroduced flock of non-migratory Whooping cranes now numbers more than 50.

When the Eastern Migratory Population began, it was intended that the birds would winter in the salt marshes on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Obviously, our birds had other ideas because they are now spread out over much of the eastern flyway. Some birds winter at St Marks NWR south of Tallahassee while others prefer Wheeler NWR in Alabama. Some only travel as far south as Goose Pond State Wildlife Area in Indiana.

That distribution was once considered a shortcoming of this project but maybe it will safeguard the birds from any one weather event. Maybe it makes them more adaptable than the natural flock that seem focused on a small area of precious habitat with an uncertain future. 

Storm events are only one of the hazards that threaten the critical habitat in Texas. There is the possibility of chemical spills, erosion, human encroachment, invasive species like black mangrove or even an avian disease. That’s why the Whooping Crane Recovery Team began the Eastern Migratory Population and other flocks in the first place and why they are more important now than ever. 

We have an unprecedented one hundred birds in the eastern flyway; the first since the last nest was reported in Wisconsin in 1878. It is a priceless asset but it is not yet self-sustaining. We need unrelenting enthusiasm and continued support to ensure that Whooping cranes are disseminated enough to survive any single threat.

First Day with the New Bling

For the second time in a week, we owe huge thanks to the banding team of Richard Urbanek, Marianne Doyle, Hillary Thompson, Dr. Glenn Olsen and Brooke Pennypacker. 

And – for the second time, nobody got pooped on! 

Everyone gathered at the White River Marsh pen site this morning at 8:30. The first crane, number 6-17 was in hand at 9 am sharp and the last bird, number 4-17 was placed back in the pen at 10:50 am.

Not a bad total time at all to band seven Whooping cranes that would rather be doing anything but being held across someones lap with their behinds held up in the air while someone glues pretty plastic bands on their legs.

So now all of the Costume-Reared cranes have their permanent legbands, VHF radios and three of them have remote GSM devices. They are females: 2-17, 6-17 and 7-17.

Richard places the BBL aluminum band on the leg of female 8-17, while Marianne holds the birds legs steady.

Marianne holds one of the cranes across her lap with the legs available for Dr. Urbanek to access.

A hood is placed over the head of each crane during the procedure. This reduces the stress on the birds.

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Avian Abode’s RAFFLE!

And here, without further adieu, are this year’s OM Staff Avian Abode’s!

The Odd Couple: Brooke Pennypacker and Bev Paulan

Creating a novel birdhouse was a task assigned to Brooke but we all know where the talent lies in that couple.

The creative use of wine corks provides a beautiful and practical exterior to their birdhouse and maybe a little insight to one of their other favorite hobbies.

 

 

 

 

The Backyard Enthusiast: Chris Danilko

Chris’ inspiration for her birdhouse design came from her three grandchildren: Abby 7, Mikayla 5 and Thomas 4. Chris spends weekends with the trio and is continuously coming up with ideas for all to participate in and to inspire them to appreciate nature and birds.

The finished product is completely edible and can be consumed by the occupants – providing you are a bird.

 

 

 

The Vagabond: Jo-Anne Bellemer

It seems that three months on the road was not enough to dampen Jo-Anne’s wanderlust. An aspiring RV owner, Jo-Anne’s birdhouse looks like a mini Winnebago for our feathered friends. Let’s hope they don’t get too attached. We might see them heading to Florida on foot with their mobile home in tow.

 

 

 

The Birdwatcher: Heather Ray

Heather’s birdhouse design incorporates her stained glass hobby into her other favorite pastime of birdwatching. She has provided our feathered friends with a nest opportunity that is safe from the elements, while still allowing you to peek in discretely. She is also teaching the birds a life-lesson about not throwing stones.

 

 

 

Greek Weddings and Colleen Chase

We are not sure if Colleen has any Greek ancestry but her birdhouse resulted from (un)-ceremoniously breaking a lot of plates. She scoured antique stores for old dinnerware and used the smashed pieces to create a mosaic birdhouse. What better way to provide shelter to pairs of expectant parents. OPA!

 

 

 

The Intemperate: Joe Duff

The birdhouses created by the OM team likely reflect their personalities more than they care to admit.

Joe started with a simple bird shelter and kept piling complications on top. Joe never learned the lesson most important to an artist and that is knowing when to stop.

 

 

 

 

Tickets are sold in sets of 5 for $5/set.

Visit this link and select your favorite(s) from the dropdown menu. The draws will be made on October 31st at noon and the winners will be notified on our blog and also by telephone. 

Once everyone has been notified, we will send the Avian Abode’s to each of the winning ticket holders by mail, or, if local, we’ll personally deliver them to the winner!

More tickets increase the chances of your name being drawn.

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The “Prize”

The Costume-Reared Whooping crane chicks are getting very little costume time now. Just when I release them, which has been less than a minute and at the end of the daily outing for about 5 minutes when they are led back inside the pen.

They are still easily led but this will change in the coming weeks and that is a good thing. As Brooke said in one of his posts we WANT empty nest syndrome! We want them to want to be out and on their own.

For now, they happily follow the costume back to the pen in the afternoon if they have not flown there on their own, and there is one thing I can count on when we wander back from the pond… Number 7-17 loves to walk with a “Prize”!

Sometimes it’s a tuft off grass, sometimes a stick and sometimes a Goldenrod Gall fly lump.

Whooping crane 7-27 with the Prize du jour!

Whatever IT is, she walks with IT in her beak for most of the walk. I silently giggle as we head back. She is my favorite.

Avian Abode’s RAFFLE!

And here, without further adieu, are this year’s OM Staff Avian Abode’s!

The Odd Couple: Brooke Pennypacker and Bev Paulan

Creating a novel birdhouse was a task assigned to Brooke but we all know where the talent lies in that couple.

The creative use of wine corks provides a beautiful and practical exterior to their birdhouse and maybe a little insight to one of their other favorite hobbies.

 

 

 

 

The Backyard Enthusiast: Chris Danilko

Chris’ inspiration for her birdhouse design came from her three grandchildren: Abby 7, Mikayla 5 and Thomas 4. Chris spends weekends with the trio and is continuously coming up with ideas for all to participate in and to inspire them to appreciate nature and birds.

The finished product is completely edible and can be consumed by the occupants – providing you are a bird.

 

 

 

The Vagabond: Jo-Anne Bellemer

It seems that three months on the road was not enough to dampen Jo-Anne’s wanderlust. An aspiring RV owner, Jo-Anne’s birdhouse looks like a mini Winnebago for our feathered friends. Let’s hope they don’t get too attached. We might see them heading to Florida on foot with their mobile home in tow.

 

 

 

The Birdwatcher: Heather Ray

Heather’s birdhouse design incorporates her stained glass hobby into her other favorite pastime of birdwatching. She has provided our feathered friends with a nest opportunity that is safe from the elements, while still allowing you to peek in discretely. She is also teaching the birds a life-lesson about not throwing stones.

 

 

 

Greek Weddings and Colleen Chase

We are not sure if Colleen has any Greek ancestry but her birdhouse resulted from (un)-ceremoniously breaking a lot of plates. She scoured antique stores for old dinnerware and used the smashed pieces to create a mosaic birdhouse. What better way to provide shelter to pairs of expectant parents. OPA!

 

 

 

The Intemperate: Joe Duff

The birdhouses created by the OM team likely reflect their personalities more than they care to admit.

Joe started with a simple bird shelter and kept piling complications on top. Joe never learned the lesson most important to an artist and that is knowing when to stop.

 

 

 

 

Tickets are sold in sets of 5 for $5/set.

Visit this link and select your favorite(s) from the dropdown menu. The draws will be made on October 31st at noon and the winners will be notified on our blog and also by telephone. 

Once everyone has been notified, we will send the Avian Abode’s to each of the winning ticket holders by mail, or, if local, we’ll personally deliver them to the winner!

More tickets increase the chances of your name being drawn.

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LET the BIDDING BEGIN!

This year’s fabulous and anxiously-awaited online auction began this morning, so, if you don’t already follow Operation Migration’s Facebook page, it’s time to click FB_like

The auction items were posted for viewing yesterday and for bidding today, September 16th, that will run until NOON, Central time on Saturday, October 7th.

The minimum bid amount listed on each item in no way reflects the fair market value of that item. Instead, the minimum bid amount was established to cover postage/packaging costs within North America.

To place a bid, just leave a comment on the photo of the item you are bidding on, including the amount of your bid. If you are outbid, you may increase your bid by posting your new bid in another comment.

At the conclusion of the auction, you will be contacted for payment information and, upon receipt of payment, your item will be sent to you. Happy bidding!

ALL funds raised will go to support Operation Migration their work with Whooping cranes in 2017. Here’s just a few of the items available! 

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Many Thanks

The amount of support the Whooping cranes and Operation Migration have received from the community of Princeton and surrounding area has been nothing short of monumental. 

Those that attended the Whooping Crane Festival over the weekend witnessed this firsthand.

We kicked the festivities off with a dinner at the Green Lake Legion. Crossroads provided the catering, Cheryl Murphy provided soothing sounds on her harp, and Joe Duff provided an informative presentation following dinner. We had some fantastic silent auction items contributed by supporters up for grabs.

The Princeton School hosts Saturday’s festival and for this, we’re incredibly grateful. Principal and District Administrator, Sam Santacroce and Food Service Class teacher Joni DeRuyter are the champions of the crane cause and their student volunteers are the hero’s of the day. 

The students did everything from cooking pancakes and sausages to helping the vendors haul in supplies – all with a friendly smile and a ‘what-can-I-do-to-help’ attitude. HUGE thanks to you the maintenance staff at the school as well for helping with setup and tear-down.

We had some fantastic presenters this year. Dr. Ratering and his spectacular Gyrfalcon, Chief Highknocker shared their passion for falconry.

Dr. Ratering’s 5 yr. old Gyrfalcon, Chief Highknocker.

Montello native Daryl Christensen talked about Kirtland’s warblers and the work he is doing to aid their return to Wisconsin.

Daryl Christensen presents a PowerPoint show about his work with Kirtland Warblers.

Children’s Edu-tainer David Stokes is always a hit with kids and adults alike and he did not disappoint.

David’s show taught kids (and adults) all about the critters that share their habitat with cranes and he had a variety of turtles, snakes and frogs, which everyone got to handle (if they wanted to). Everyone also learned some sign language and laughed – a lot!

Pat and Ginny finished off the speaker’s schedule with the educational birds from The Feather rehab center in New London.

Ginny talks about the Barred owl at The Feather.

Pat and her birds have been a staple with the Crane Festival since the very early days at Necedah and we’re thrilled she is still able to join us as she always draws a crowd eager to learn about the birds.

A number of people participated in the Nature Photography Workshop, instructed by David Heritsch. This is the first time the festival committee has offered a workshop so we’re thrilled it was well received by the budding photographers. A reminder to all to submit your favorite photograph from Sunday’s outing to: cranefestival@operationmigration.org for a chance to win a $100 gift card from Amazon.com!

On Sunday, attendee’s had the opportunity to attend a presentation offered by Associate Professor, Misty McPhee with the UW Oshkosh, Environmental Studies Program and Department of Biology. Misty’s talk was titled: Reintroducing Whooping Cranes – Navigating the Roadblocks to Success.

Everyone who attended found the program very informative and, I feel, came away with a much better understanding of the hurdles the Whoopers, and the organizations working to safeguard them are facing.

We cannot thank everyone enough for their support. Volunteer’s pitched in wherever they were needed – sometimes, without being asked. Our speaker’s line-up was fantastic. The food prepared by the Food Service Class and the Princeton Lion’s club was incredible. The entire festival committee pitched in to make this year’s event one of the best yet – We’re looking forward to next year and we hope you are too!

Parent-Reared Whooper Colts

This year, the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership plans to release 12 Whooping cranes, which have been raised by adult cranes at the captive breeding centers. 

Eleven of the dozen, will come from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and one from the International Crane Foundation. This is the final group that the dedicated crane crew at Patuxent will send to Wisconsin. 

The first five arrived here at 11:30 am Tuesday on-board a Windway Aviation aircraft piloted by Mike Frakes. The fact that we’ve lost track of how many such flights Windway has made means it’s a lot. Patriarch Terry Kohler would be proud that the tradition he began many years ago with wife Mary, is carrying on.

Pilot Mike Frakes maneuvers the Cessna Caravan on the tarmac at the Oshkosh airport.

Next the side door is opened to reveal the cardboard crane crates inside. Mike said the one at the back was the crane that caused the most trouble for the crew trying to capture/crate them.

Brooke, Joe, Dr. Olsen and I loaded the five cranes into our air-conditioned van and made the 30 minute drive back to White River Marsh where each was removed from the van one-at-a-time for banding and a quick health-check.

The logic behind banding them immediately was that it would probably be more stressful for them if they had been placed inside the temporary pen and then recaptured in another day or two for the procedure. Why not get it over with and then allow them a day or two to recover.

Dr. Richard Urbanek retired in 2016 after a long career with US Fish and Wildlife Service and since his retirement, he’s been volunteering with Operation Migration. Richard has many years experience at banding cranes and we’re grateful for his support.

Each of the five Whooping cranes received a color-coded combination, which is unique to that crane and allows trackers to identify them.

Once legbands are applied and the glue has cured, each is given a brief exam by Dr. Olsen. He checks their respiration and each wing to check for possible broken feathers.

Marianne Wellington from the International Crane Foundation holds the young Whooping crane while Dr. Olsen listens for pulse and respiration.

Richard Urbanek measures the tarsus of each bird.

The tarsus (leg-bone) gives an overall indication of the size of the crane. Of these five, the largest is male number 28-17 with a tarsus measuring 331 millimeters and the smallest is male number 24-17 with a 297 mm leg-bone.

The entire procedure lasted an average of 14 minutes from the time the bird was un-crated to the time it was placed in the temporary enclosure. Each crane is hooded during the procedure to reduce stress.

Joe and Marianne head off to place this young Whooping crane inside the enclosure.

All of them are fine two days later and seem no worse for wear following their first cross-country flight and the leg-banding procedure. 

The only anomaly noticed – and one that the Patuxent crew were aware of already, is that number 19-17 is missing the tip of his outer left toe on his left foot. Colleen says it happened while quite young and while they don’t know for certain how it happened, it’s likely a result of a snapping turtle.

Whooping crane #19-17 is missing the tip of his outer left toe.

Of the five young cranes that arrived Tuesday, four are males and one, a female. The oldest hatched May 17th and the youngest of the group hatched May 23rd. 

Many thanks to everyone that participated in the banding: Hillary Thompson and Marianne Doyle from ICF, Dr. Glenn Olsen with Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, and Brooke Pennypacker, Colleen Chase, Joe Duff and yours truly. 

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Busy Days!

Sunday and Monday were jam packed busy. We let our cohort out on Sunday like we usually do. Brooke went to the blind, I released. I fetched them early at noon so Brooke could go weed whacker the area where the Parent Reared temporary bird pen would be set up. They arrived yesterday. Joe got the travel pens to camp and I scrubbed and disinfected food buckets, water tanks and buckets and foot baths. Then made sure everything that was needed was in each trailer. 

Monday morning Brooke and I switched panels from one trailer to another before switching roles for the day. He had more whacking to do so I went and hid in the woods and he released the birds. My spot in the woods is about 400 feet from the pond. So I can’t see much. I can tell they are there but that’s about it. After an hour of them being lazy I snuck out and for the first time ever left them completely alone. 

I went and helped put the pen up with Joe, Brooke and Dr. Olsen from Patuxent. Every 10 minutes or so I would check the camera to see if the birds had flown or walked back to the runway. They did great! They stayed put.

At 3 pm-ish Brooke walked out to bring them back while I watched the camera on my phone in the van and ate lunch. Suddenly he ducked down as 4 birds flew over and landed on the runway. A couple of minutes later the other 3 flew in. So I put on my costume and went to put them in.

As they all filed in I could tell #7 had a prize! A mouse! She was not about to share it either!

#7-17 catches a field mouse

A few shakes, a good dunking and gulp it was gone! 

GULP!

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2017 Avian Abode’s

And here, without further adieu, are this year’s OM Staff Avian Abode’s!

The Odd Couple: Brooke Pennypacker and Bev Paulan

Creating a novel birdhouse was a task assigned to Brooke but we all know where the talent lies in that couple.

The creative use of wine corks provides a beautiful and practical exterior to their birdhouse and maybe a little insight to one of their other favorite hobbies.

 

 

 

 

The Backyard Enthusiast: Chris Danilko

Chris’ inspiration for her birdhouse design came from her three grandchildren: Abby 7, Mikayla 5 and Thomas 4. Chris spends weekends with the trio and is continuously coming up with ideas for all to participate in and to inspire them to appreciate nature and birds.

The finished product is completely edible and can be consumed by the occupants – providing you are a bird.

 

 

 

The Vagabond: Jo-Anne Bellemer

It seems that three months on the road was not enough to dampen Jo-Anne’s wanderlust. An aspiring RV owner, Jo-Anne’s birdhouse looks like a mini Winnebago for our feathered friends. Let’s hope they don’t get too attached. We might see them heading to Florida on foot with their mobile home in tow.

 

 

 

The Birdwatcher: Heather Ray

Heather’s birdhouse design incorporates her stained glass hobby into her other favorite pastime of birdwatching. She has provided our feathered friends with a nest opportunity that is safe from the elements, while still allowing you to peek in discretely. She is also teaching the birds a life-lesson about not throwing stones.

 

 

 

Greek Weddings and Colleen Chase

We are not sure if Colleen has any Greek ancestry but her birdhouse resulted from (un)-ceremoniously breaking a lot of plates. She scoured antique stores for old dinnerware and used the smashed pieces to create a mosaic birdhouse. What better way to provide shelter to pairs of expectant parents. OPA!

 

 

 

The Intemperate: Joe Duff

The birdhouses created by the OM team likely reflect their personalities more than they care to admit.

Joe started with a simple bird shelter and kept piling complications on top. Joe never learned the lesson most important to an artist and that is knowing when to stop.

 

 

 

 

Tickets are sold in sets of 5 for $5/set.

Visit this link and select your favorite(s) from the dropdown menu. The draws will be made on October 31st at noon and the winners will be notified on our blog and also by telephone. 

Once everyone has been notified, we will send the Avian Abode’s to each of the winning ticket holders by mail, or, if local, we’ll personally deliver them to the winner!

More tickets increase the chances of your name being drawn.

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Found a Peanut, Found a Peanut…

Doug Pellerin found a Peanut last week… Whooper #4-14 that is. Along with his buddy 11-15.

The male duo had been hanging out south of Princeton, Wisconsin for much of the spring and early summer but they disappeared a few weeks ago. By sheer luck, Doug was on his was over for a Crane Festival event and he spotted two tiny white dots waaaaay out in a field in neighboring Fond du Lac County.

Luckily he has telemetry equipment with him and was able to hear the beeps from 11-15, whose VHF radio still works. Binoculars confirmed the legbands of the crane that was with him as those of #4-14 (Peanut), so it appears he’s likely been still in the area the entire time!

Here’s a photo of the two in flight yesterday…

Two Whooping cranes in flight over Fond du Lac County, WI. Photo: D. Pellerin

 

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