Please Consider Becoming a Monthly Supporter

Monthly contributions 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 support, all at your convenience.

Your monthly gift will help ensure that we are able to continue our work to safeguard Whooping cranes and continue our education and outreach efforts.

embroidered crest_wbWhen you become a NEW monthly donor, OR increase your current monthly donation amount, you will receive a special embroidered Whooping crane crest as a small token of our appreciation! Each embroidered crest features a single Whooping crane with its head tossed back while unison calling and measures 4 inches high x 2 inches across.

When you become a recurring supporter it provides OM with a reliable, low-cost stream of revenue that sustains our ongoing programs and allows us to better forecast revenue for budgeting purposes.

It’s super easy to join and you can contribute any amount you like on a monthly basis: $10, $15, $25, $50 – Visit this link to learn more or to enroll today!

If you’re already a monthly supporter (thank you!) and would like to increase or change your gift, don’t forget you can login to your personal account at anytime to do so using this link: LOGIN

Monday (photo) Montage

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From left to right Whooping cranes: 8-14, 10-14 and 4-14

 

Two year old number 4-13 spends some time preening.

Two year old number 4-13 spends some time preening.

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The entire Class of 2014

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Left to right: 3-14, 10-14 & and 4-14 (aka Peanut),

 

 

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Marsh Madness Quickly Approaching

Friends of Goose Pond supports wildlife conservation and habitat restoration at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County, Indiana and this year their Marsh Madness Sandhill Crane Festival will be held on March 6th and 7th.

With nearly 5,000 acres of shallow water wetlands, 1,300 acres of prairie and over 30 miles of levees, Goose Pond FWA provides excellent wildlife watching opportunities and more than 260 bird species have been documented – including Whooping cranes!

Check out the festival schedule and if you can make it be sure to take in the Friday evening dinner with keynote speaker Joe Duff. If you can’t make it Friday, Joe will be giving a one hour presentation on Saturday as well!

This image was captured a couple weeks ago at Goose Pond by Don Arnett, ijustsnapped.com

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White on White

Who said white is a boring color? There are some that claim white isn’t even an actual color.

The following image – captured Wednesday in Knox County, Indiana by Mark Crowley is anything but boring. In fact, it’s quite stunning.

Pictured are adult Whooping cranes 12-05 & 12-03* – this pair has spent the winter in Knox County, Indiana.

Adult Whooping crane pair 12-05 & 12-03. Photo: Mark Crowley

Adult Whooping crane pair 12-05 & 12-03. Photo: Mark Crowley

Chicago Lab School Craniacs do it Again!

Ms. Lisa Harrison Piane teaches 2nd grade at Chicago Lab School in Chicago and she and her students have been following our work since 2007. Each year Lisa introduces her new flock of kids to our new flock of cranes and encourages them to take action to raise funds for our MileMaker campaign.

The kids collect bottles and return them for the deposit refund. They do chores at home and shovel snow and come up with some really unique ways to earn miles.

Yesterday, we received the financial support for their efforts, which totaled close to a thousand dollars! This recent contribution brings the total of their financial support over the years to more than $8500.00!

Please join us in applauding the efforts of these incredible kids and their teacher, Lisa Harrison Piane (@daysin2ndgrade). Take a moment to tweet Lisa and her kids or leave a comment at the end of this post for the kids to read!

These incredible grade 2 students are dressed in red, black and white - the colors of their favorite bird!

These incredible grade 2 students are dressed in red, black and white – the colors of their favorite bird!

The Routine That is Not

BevGuest Author Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR Pilot and former OM Field Supervisor

The daily routine of being a pseudo crane parent is anything but routine. That is one of the things I love about this job. No two days are alike. The weather changes, the light is different, the cast of characters come and go as the season progresses. Even the behavior of the birds change with the passing of the days.

Early in the season, when we arrive in the blind for morning checks, all the birds are in the pen going about their usual morning routine of foraging, stretching, and preening. Some mornings all of the birds are out of the pen at a nearby pond foraging along the shoreline in the company of a small wedge of White ibis. As the season progresses most mornings the birds are gone. At that point we turn on the telemetry receiver and point the antenna around the marsh to try to “hear” where the birds are. We hear faint beeps, usually from the direction of the nearby creek and within a half an hour we see them flying back in to the pen.

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It is a rare morning we are not treated to the site of the birds circling the marsh then setting their wings with gear down and gliding down to a landing near where we are standing. Nothing quite gets my goose bumps up like the site of these gorgeous birds sailing down from on high and honoring me with their presence as they descend around me. I always stop doing what I am doing and look up in wonder. Thank goodness for the hood because anyone near me would see me staring, with mouth agape, and think I had gone stupid.

This morning, Brooke and I divided the duties and as he went into the pen for chick patrol, I slogged across the marsh, telemetry in hand, to try to get a visual on 5-12. We haven’t seen him in two days and are not content with obtaining just a signal every day, so make a concerted effort to get a visual confirmation on him as often as practical. The last we saw him was as he flew away from 4-12 and 4-13 as they gave chase across the marsh two days ago.

Brooke joined me and we cut through a tree line separating the pen marsh from the tidal flats. We snuck (as stealthily as we could in costume) around palms and oaks until we caught sight of 5-12 foraging out on the flats. To me this looked like ideal wintering crane habitat: salt flats as far as I could see out to the Gulf with an occasional hummock poking up here and there. A creek separated the dike from the flats and as I stared out towards where the adult walked, I couldn’t help but think about how at home he looked out there. We watched as he probed the sand, periodically standing up to swallow the small grabs he was catching. This is definitely not part of my normal routine back in Wisconsin.

Satisfied with his behavior and appearance, we walked back to the blind, pausing to look at the pen, the chicks, the now ever-present flock of snow geese and were glad with the ever changing non-routine of being surrogate crane parents. Life couldn’t be better!

Recurring Support

Monthly contributions 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 support, all at your convenience.

Your monthly gift will help ensure that we are able to continue our work to safeguard Whooping cranes and continue our education and outreach efforts.

embroidered crest_wbWhen you become a NEW monthly donor, OR increase your current monthly donation amount, you will receive a special embroidered Whooping crane crest as a small token of our appreciation! Each embroidered crest features a single Whooping crane with its head tossed back while unison calling and measures 4 inches high x 2 inches across.

When you become a recurring supporter it provides OM with a reliable, low-cost stream of revenue that sustains our ongoing programs and allows us to better forecast revenue for budgeting purposes.

It’s super easy to join and you can contribute any amount you like on a monthly basis: $10, $15, $25, $50 – Visit this link to learn more or to enroll today!

If you’re already a monthly supporter (thank you!) and would like to increase or change your gift, don’t forget you can login to your personal account at anytime to do so using this link: LOGIN

Lessons Learned cont…

BevGuest Author Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR Pilot and former OM Field Supervisor

Last night during roost checks all the birds flew out to the north, outside, pond for a few last moments of foraging time prior to roost. Right at sunset, all the birds took off and flew towards the pen, with a quick lap around the outside, dipping low before the final climb up and over the pen.  8-14, instead of the climb, continued her descent and landed on the flats outside of the pen. While all the other birds headed to the feeders, she walked towards the front of the pen.

The small group of snow geese that had grown to a flock of 11  were foraging in front of the pen. As 8-14 approached, she bowed a couple of times, but instead of joining her in the prelude to a dance, the geese scattered.

It was getting late enough that I decided to costume up and walk her into the pen. As I sloshed my way up the muddy path, she took wing and flew over to right in front of me and proceeded to start dancing. I stopped and bowed and tried a little leap of my own (a very difficult maneuver in rubber boots!) and placed a grape on my puppet to entice her towards the pen.

Because of all the rain we have had, there is a small pool in front of the gate.  We have to wade through the pool to get to the gate.  Well last night, as I was bribing 8-14 with grapes, she also had to walk through the pool. I had to stop and turn off the electric fence, disconnect the fence and open the gate. When I finally turned to look at her, my breath was literally taken away. The sky was brilliant with orangey-peachy clouds smeared through a cerulean sky. This scene was doubled in the pool that 8-14 was standing in.

The reflected clouds formed an orange arc around her as she stood tall and calm waiting for the gate to be opened. So as I guided her into the pen I felt nothing but gratitude for her pulling me out into the marsh to witness an unforgettable and beautiful scene. Once again she taught me some small lessons – appreciation, gratitude and to always look for the good in every situation, no matter how annoying or muddy!

Wood Buffalo National Park Tours

Wood Buffalo National Park is Canada’s largest National park and one of the largest worldwide. While It was established in 1922 to protect the last remaining herds of bison in northern Canada, it is also home to the Wood Buffalo – Aransas population of Whooping cranes. It was here, in 1954 that Robert Porter Allen discovered the nesting grounds for our nations tallest bird.

To say the park is remote, is an understatement. Beginning this spring, visitors can visit the park and perhaps see the Whooping crane nesting grounds.

CLICK to read the full story in the Edmonton Journal

Lessons Learned from a Crane

BevGuest Author Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR Pilot and former OM Field Supervisor

Every day at the pen is school for me. I learn something new every time I observe and interact with the chicks and adults that are out in the marsh. This year, the greatest teacher I have is 8-14. She is a wonder and a role model that I pay close attention to. In fact, I am so in awe of her, I wish the pen area was drier so I could sit at her feet like a disciple.

I have been privileged to have many great role models in my life from my mother, to Rachel Carson and Amelia Earhart to name but a few. Number 8-14 ranks right up there with the greatest of ladies. She has a love for life that equals none. She is independent, pays close attention to the adults and their behavior, entertains herself for hours on end and most importantly dances as if no one is watching.

She walks with intent but never in haste. She takes time to observe the world around her, looking up when other birds fly over, or glances toward the Pied billed grebe as it swims by in the pond. She glides through the mud with very little effort, never fighting it.  She is selective of whom she spends her time with, choosing to hang out with her big brother (4-12 is from the same parents) than with the other “kids”. She stays close to home, preferring to forage in the pen, but will join in flying circuits around the marsh with the rest of her cohort.

The aspect of her personality, er, crane-ality I admire the most is how she dances. In fact Hillary, one of the Disney keepers that have been helping us, dubbed 8-14 “Tiny Dancer.” This bird is always dancing. She dances to greet the day and she dances to say good night. She dances when she finds a feather and she dances in front of her brother. She dances when she is in the pen and she dances when she is out of the pen. She dances alone and she dances with others. She’ll dance with a stick or an oyster shell as a prop and she’ll dance in front of the costume. She is one of the most joyful birds I have ever been around. She will jump high and pirouette, flapping her huge wings and kicking her long legs. She bows her head, picks up a feather, stick or shell and tosses it high in the air, jumping up flapping and kicking and pouncing on the object as soon as she lands. She is as uninhibited as anyone could ever be. She doesn’t dance any less when other birds are present, or try to hide her exuberance when the costume is in the pen.  She truly dances, all the time, as if no one is watching. And that to me, is the very best lesson she could teach me.

A WHAT Eyelid?!

The nictitating membrane (from Latin nictare, to blink) is a transparent or translucent eyelid that can be drawn across the eye to clean it, for protection and to moisten it while maintaining visibility and staying vigilant and aware of potential threats.

It slides horizontally across the eye approximately every 3-4 seconds – unless the crane is probing underwater, which they often do. As they use their long bills to probe for fish, frogs, snails and blue crab, the nictitating membrane remains over the eye, protecting it from sticks or other objects, all the while allowing them to see through the transparent eyelid.

Take a look at the photos below to see the nictitating membrane of Whooping crane number 4-12 in the open and closed position. CLICK the image to enlarge.

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The image on the left is 4-12 with the nictitating membrane open. On the right the membrane is still covering his eye. Notice the drop of water on his bill? He’s likely just come up for air and hasn’t yet opened the membrane.

Marsh MADNESS Sandhill Crane Festival

Friends of Goose Pond supports wildlife conservation and habitat restoration at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County, Indiana and this year their Marsh Madness Sandhill Crane Festival will be held on March 6th and 7th.

With nearly 5,000 acres of shallow water wetlands, 1,300 acres of prairie and over 30 miles of levees, Goose Pond FWA provides excellent wildlife watching opportunities and more than 260 bird species have been documented – including Whooping cranes!

Check out the festival schedule and if you can make it be sure to take in the Friday evening dinner with keynote speaker Joe Duff. If you can’t make it Friday, Joe will be giving a one hour presentation on Saturday as well!

This image was captured just last week at Goose Pond by Don Arnett, ijustsnapped.com

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Port Aransas Whooping Crane Festival

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Register for the Port Aransas, TX Whooping Crane Festival! 

This year’s festival runs this week – February 19 – 22nd and we hope you can join us at this event!

The Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce celebrates Whooping cranes on their winter habitat with an annual festival honoring these grand birds. In addition to the Whooping Crane, an awesome array of wintering migratory birds flock into the wetlands and onto the Texas shorelines of Mustang Island in and around Port Aransas, Texas. This festival is a must-attend for all birders!

Check out the Whooping crane viewing opportunities to see some of the amazing cranes in the Wood Buffalo – Aransas flock. You may just be fortunate to spot a family of Whoopers!

Port Aransas is on the northern tip of Mustang Island, about 30 minutes from downtown Corpus Christi, three hours from the Rio Grande Valley, three hours from San Antonio and four hours from Houston or Austin.

Book now to reserve the tours you want to participate in and speakers sessions you want to attend (Hopefully, one of them is OM CEO, Joe Duff). While you there, be sure to swing by the Bird’s Nest Trade Show at the Port Aransas Civic Center and say hi to Colleen, Joe and yours truly. Our friends from Eagle Optics will also be there so you can try out some great binoculars or spotting scopes.

It’s been more than 10 years since we’ve attended this fun event and I can’t wait to see how it’s grown.

Salt Marsh Symphony

BevGuest Author, Bev Paulan, Wisconsin DNR pilot and former OM Field Supervisor

Hands down my favorite time of the year is when I get to come down to St. Mark’s and help out with the monitoring of the chicks. I love being out in the salt marsh with all of its unique sights, sounds and smells.  No two mornings or evenings are ever alike due to an ever shifting skyscape, winds, tides and a changing cast of characters, each with its own distinct voice.

The sun isn’t up yet as we walk along the path cut through the coastal forest. But the birds are starting to tune-up their portion of the chorus and the frogs are still peeping from the night’s performance.  Occasionally we hear an owl and this morning we heard three having a rather intense discussing about what, only they know.  By the time we get to the blind, the mockingbird and catbird that reside in the trees near the blind begin their scold of us for waking them too early. A Carolina wren joins in as a flicker raps on a dead tree.

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The chicks out in the pen are usually already afoot, checking out each feeder and stretching their wings after a long evening on the oyster bar. After feeding and drinking they begin to move with more purpose and stretch their necks forward in a pre-flight posture. Soon they are a-wing, flying circuits around the marsh.

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The last two mornings, adult 4-12 and 8-14 remained in the pen and called out to the others. 4-12 has, of course, a fully developed, beautiful crane voice, but 8-14 still honks. I’m not sure if it is the adult voice or the honking of the chick, but this noise sets off the resident Clapper rails and soon the marsh is alive with an unbelievable racket of cackles, grunts and honks.

The last 24 hours have had a pair of Snow geese and their two goslings foraging near the pen.  Snows do not have the loud honking call of Canada geese but rather a soft sweet whistling call.  When the costume approaches too closely, off they fly calling gently.

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When there is no breeze, the sounds of daily crane activity float across the marsh from the pen. We hear feeders being tapped, water splashed, purrs from the adults, peeps from the chicks and even the sound of wing beats of the dancing birds. All these sounds merge with the tang of salt in the air, the warm sun on my face and the sight of young birds growing up and learning about freedom to so firmly etch these memories into my mind it might just last until next year.

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