Step Two Complete!

We made our way out to Wabash Island on the Ohio River this morning thanks to Matt Mangan and Donavan Henry – two self-described desk jockey wildlife biologists. Matt is with Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge and Donavan is with Carterville Fish & Wildlife Conservation office.

Carterville FWC allowed us to use their boat and even provided the manpower to pilot it.

Once we arrived at the island, we carried costumes, puppets, a large vocalizer to broadcast the brood call, the crate, binoculars, the receiver and antenna up a steep and very muddy incline until we again arrived on flat land.

Once at the top we set up the antenna and receiver and immediately heard the welcome beep-beep of 4-14’s radio band, assuring us he was indeed still there.

The strength of the beep tells us which direction he was so I got the binoculars and began scanning the horizon. Waaaay off in the distance, over a half mile away I could make out his whiteness. He was much whiter than the last time I saw him in December.

As Joe and I donned our costumes, Donavan watched Peanut through the binoculars and soon reported seeing two coyotes circling him.

We walked (briskly) out into the ag field about 500 feet, which gave Matt & Donavan a chance to hide among the trees that surround the island.

Once in position, Joe turned on the brood call, which was magnified through the loudspeaker. I watched closely to see how Peanut would react while I flapped my costume sleeve.

First his head popped up. Then he leapt and began a flap/run in our direction.

Watching him glide, just above the surface of the field, covering almost a mile, literally took my breath away.

He landed about 30 ft short of us and gave a quick full body ruffle to put his glorious white feathers back into place.

I watched as Joe tossed a couple of grapes which piqued his interest. He was tentative in his approach. Not too close.


Joe was patient as he always is when in proximity to the cranes and finally won him over – getting him to follow, while I made my way back to the tall grass where we had hidden the crate.

I removed the sliding panel and placed it on top then stood in front of it, using my costume to conceal it as Joe convinced Peanut to get closer.


Close enough to grab his bustle and walk him over to the crate I was hiding.

In quick order he was safely inside and we moved it immediately into the shade while we gathered everything up.

Next was to load him onto the boat and make the 7 mile return trip to Shawneetown in silence. Once there we transferred him to the van and turned the AC on high so he wouldn’t over heat.

We thanked Donavan and Matt and left them to get the boat trailered before leaving to drive the 50 or so miles to get Peanut into the pen and reunited with 3-14.


Neither crane seems stressed. They’re not pacing and eating quite heartily.

Tomorrow, we’ll make the overnight run to Wisconsin and release them at sunrise Friday.

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  1. ffmn May 14, 2015 3:06 pm

    oooph!! Relief and thrilled both 3 & 4 together and being transported back to WI. Will be waiting to see how these two respond when released back on to the ‘runway’ like the earlier 3. It is all good.!!

  2. Shepherd May 14, 2015 7:09 am

    cranes seem so helpless – such easy prey.
    Glad class of 2014 is safe

  3. Cathy May 14, 2015 5:14 am

    I simply have no words for how much I admire and appreciate all of you. Safe travels and oh by the way…YOU ROCK!!!

  4. Dorothy Nordness May 13, 2015 11:54 pm

    What an adventure, and what commitment to these birds!!! A well-deserved Whoop will be coming your way!!

  5. Cheryl Murphy May 13, 2015 11:51 pm

    Wow! What an amazing journey this has been. And so lovingly documented. Thanks!


  6. Jillbru May 13, 2015 11:48 pm

    I was thrilled reading your post! Until I got the where the coyotes were circling Peanut – Oh! so scary. Thank heavens you got there in time – you all are just awesome. Way to go!

  7. GinnyL May 13, 2015 10:18 pm

    How heart warming to read this, way to go, big whoop to you all for a job well done! Was scary reading about the circling coyotes though, just in time Heather and Joe to the rescue. Such a gift to have these beautiful birds residing in Wisconsin.

  8. Marilyn May 13, 2015 9:51 pm

    thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you – for your work, your dedication, your love for these magnificent creatures. I’m so thankful our “little” Peanut is safe again.

  9. Libby May 13, 2015 9:29 pm

    Whoop! Thanks for your persistence, OM! and for making nice new friends in Illinois!

  10. Deane Bauman May 13, 2015 8:35 pm


  11. Bobbie May 13, 2015 8:18 pm

    Wonderful news indeed! WHEW! Coyotes, YIKES! It just amazes me they responded to the brood call and the TUME outfits. Whooping Crane behavior is so interesting, I learn something new with every journal entry that is posted. Thank you so much to all of you who work so hard to keep the birds safe! Look forward to hearing about their arrival to WRM.

  12. Anna May 13, 2015 7:55 pm

    Wonderful news! Thanks for all of the updates and I’m glad to know that 3-14 and 4-14 will be back home soon. What a moment it must have been to see Peanut’s response to the brood call. You all are simply amazing with such compassion and dedication to the birds!

  13. Elizabeth Robbins May 13, 2015 7:09 pm

    My heart skipped a beat also when you said coyotes circling… Wonder what the coyotes thought of the big giant whooper coming their way on two legs… Wonder what the big giant whooper on two legs thought of the coyotes? You guys are amazing. Truly amazing!

  14. Matt Mangan May 13, 2015 7:04 pm

    Great Job Today! Donovan actually works for Carteville Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office and I work for the Marion Illinois Ecological Services Sub-Office.

    • Mindy May 14, 2015 12:06 am

      Matt… glad you were there to help! Thank you!

  15. birdlady9 May 13, 2015 6:17 pm

    Thank you, Joe and Heather, for retrieving our precious 3-14 and 4-14. Sounds like you arrived just in the nick of time and likely saved Peanut’s life. <3

  16. Kay May 13, 2015 6:11 pm

    I’m tingling all over. And flabbergasted. And sniffling.

    You rescued him before the coyotes could get him. A day later. . . ?

    You did it! However you choose to celebrate, you deserve to do it in spades.

  17. Janice bittner May 13, 2015 6:02 pm
  18. Warrenwesternpa May 13, 2015 5:57 pm

    Step Two Complete Heather Ray

    Aw, we can all sleep tonight. Our little Peanut has given us a rough year!

    Bless you all! 🙂

  19. Lindi Allen May 13, 2015 5:47 pm

    I am so glad he is going back where he belongs. Glad it went well.

  20. Mollie Cook May 13, 2015 5:45 pm

    And many, many heartfelt thanks to Donavan & Matt & Crab Orchard Refuge !!!!!!!

  21. Andrea Johnson May 13, 2015 5:44 pm

    Finally, I can breath a with a sense of relief. Thank you to all involved. In as much as Peanut is the only male of the Class of 2014, I was particularly worried.

  22. Mollie Cook May 13, 2015 5:40 pm

    If I had been at home (I’m at work), I would have burst into tears when I read about Peanut jumping up & running toward Joe……….oh my, gosh. And the coyote part made my heart skip a beat. You two are amazing beyond words!! Thank you, thank you! Tomorrow the babies will be HOME AT LAST!

  23. Nancy E. (sandtrap1) May 13, 2015 5:38 pm

    Oh, and I forgot Hot Dog!!!

  24. Nancy E. (sandtrap1) May 13, 2015 5:36 pm

    Whoop, whoop whooray!!!! Yee haw!!! So glad you got them both. Thank you, thank you & thank you. So thankful for everyone that helped.

  25. maxgreenwing May 13, 2015 5:34 pm

    Applause. 🙂

  26. Marianna Sadowski May 13, 2015 5:34 pm

    Great news! Much relief! “coyotes circling’??? ACK!!! So glad they are both safe!!!

  27. Dora May 13, 2015 5:33 pm

    to all for all you do and am so so soooo happy to read that both the wanderers have been found, crated and ready for trip back home. Safe travels and can hardly wait to hear that all 6 of the 2014 class are finally home.

  28. Linda Degnan May 13, 2015 5:25 pm

    Holy cow! In the nick of time, with those coyotes circling! Congrats!