Welcome to the ‘New Guy’

August 1st was the official start date for our new employee, Jeff Fox, soon to be Doctor Jeff Fox. Although it does not require a degree in the environmental sciences to lead Whooping cranes on their first migration, there are times when those credentials would be helpful.

Operation Migration is staffed by well experienced and dedicated people but most of us are self taught. Brooke was once a deep sea diver, Richard is a metal sculptor and I spent most of my career taking pictures. The same is true for Heather who taught herself computer technology and all the skills it take to raise the money to fund our project. Colleen brings a passion for all birds and a willingness to give up most of her time for Whooping cranes. Walter Sturgeon was a nuclear engineer and Jo-Ann Bellemer lived in the corporate world of high finance.  All are extremely talented and work more hours than they care to count for the good of the species.

I have always felt that Operation Migration provides a unique platform for avian research beyond leading them south. We can observe, closer than anyone, the phenomenon of migration. There are a thousand questions we could help to answer apart from how to get them to Florida. Things like the energy it takes to fly 1200 miles, or the mechanics of flight and the benefits of doing it in a v formation.

We have a wealth of anecdotal observations. I noticed yesterday how the two adult birds that frequent our training facility flew away when they left. The female, who is only a year old, and spends her time with us with her neck bowed in a subservient posture, was beating her wings normally. But the male, who is 3 years old and constantly struts and threat postures while on the runway, was snapping his wing in quick thrusts. I have seen that behavior before and believe it is one last departing threat not to fool with him.

We have all made behavioral observations during our years with Whooping cranes but they are only opinions and it makes you wonder if anyone has ever documented them in proper scientific format.

I have tried for years to interest university professors in capitalizing on this unique opportunity. I have even offered to provide housing for a researcher, cameras and all the necessary equipment but no one has taken the bait. So now we have our own researcher who can add what we have learned to the body of knowledge about migration of large, precocial birds and the reintroduction of an endangered species.

Jeff spent many years studying the reproduction of Sandhill cranes. He is an expert in tracking, banding and capturing cranes and documenting his findings. We are excited to have him on our team.

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  1. Warrenwesternpa August 5, 2015 6:37 am

    Welcome to the ‘New Guy’ Joe Duff

    With the others, I also welcome you Jeff, and am looking forward to your journal entry’s. The exposure I have had with Operation Migration, the Leaders and the Chatters have been a wonderful lifetime of experiences, I would not have received anywhere else. You will do well with this delightful congregation!

  2. ffmn August 4, 2015 4:45 pm

    Big WELCOME, Jeff Fox. Your background is great, Sure you will be hen and cock pecked by the OM crew considering your knowledge…and all that will come. Would like to know the answers to QQ’s Joe D has, and perhaps you, just might, be the one who discovers the answers..Have an exciting experience with the crew.

  3. Margie Tomlinson August 4, 2015 3:13 pm

    A very warm welcome to Jeff Fox, the “New Guy”! Sounds extremely well qualified to help the OM Team. Hope it will be a long and good relationship.

  4. Bobbie August 4, 2015 12:33 pm

    Welcome Jeff Fox! I am looking forward to Field Journal notes from you! Perhaps your thoughts on Sandhill vs Whooping Cranes! Best wishes in your new position!

  5. oma sawyer August 4, 2015 12:02 pm

    Joe; thanks for your welcome to the “new guy” and explanation of whats ahead. You all have such interesting backgrounds; actually, fascinating!!
    Good luck to all of you and thanks for what you do!!!

  6. Mindy August 4, 2015 11:52 am

    Jeff, a warm welcome to you as you join such a fantastic team of people who dedicate themselves every day to Whooping cranes. And what a time to come into the picture as migration soon approaches! I am praying for better weather this year so the journey may go a bit smoother for birds and people alike. God bless you in your mission to help the white birds we all love so very much and for all you did for Sandies.

  7. Bonnie August 4, 2015 11:37 am

    Welcome, Jeff! If you ever need a chuckle… check out the Chat on the Live Crane Cam! (I’d say the “winner” was last season when the cranes landed in a cotton field and started poking around. “Maybe the crane will Poop a Sweater! Would make a great fund-raising item.” Not an exact quote, but you get the picture!)

  8. buffy3kins August 4, 2015 11:09 am

    What a great opportunity to get and add to real research and knowledge about whooping cranes and migrations. I hope he uses all the stories and such available here.

  9. Cheryl Murphy August 4, 2015 10:57 am

    Thanks for your wise words, Joe. As usual so thoughtful and well written. Thanks for all that you and the rest of the dedicated OM staff and volunteers do. Welcome, Jeff!


  10. Lindi Allen August 4, 2015 10:57 am

    Welcome Jeff and I hope you enjoy the experience. We look forward to having you in the OM group.

  11. Reta August 4, 2015 10:39 am

    I too enjoy Joe’s reports. Fascinating to know what the lives of the dedicated OM crew did prior to this loving task they have taken on. Welcome Jeff Fox, may you find this as exciting and rewarding as the past and current OM crew. God Bless all of you.


  12. Maggie Turk August 4, 2015 10:30 am

    Sure like the name of the new “guy” as it is so easy to remember. When you have an 84 year old memory like mine, sometimes names are difficult to keep up with—-welcome aboard to the best team of dedicated people.


  13. Calistus Holland August 4, 2015 10:01 am

    Jeff if you are as dedicated as those that I have meet that are associated with Operation Migration. Which I think you are. They are very lucky to have you aboard.

  14. Grandma August 4, 2015 9:40 am

    Welcome to the New Guy. All on the team have my deepest admiration for all that you do to ensure the future of this wonderful cause!

  15. Mollie Cook August 4, 2015 9:34 am

    Welcome Jeff! We are all excited about the knowledge you are bringing to the OM team & look forward to seeing reports & insights from you on the FJ. Everyone on the OM team is awesome & so dedicated to these beautiful birds. Congratulations on your soon-to-be DR status.

  16. P. Main August 4, 2015 8:39 am

    “New Guy” Jeff is a great addition to a dedicated team.

  17. Marje Lloyd August 4, 2015 8:32 am

    Welcome Jeff, I really hope you enjoy your work with Om

  18. Shepherd August 4, 2015 8:04 am

    I always love Joe’s reports!
    His description of the WB on runway is priceless!
    I’ll post this link on the RRP OM blog.
    I wonder what Jeff thinks about WHOOPSIE, the whooper-sandhill chick. The fj link to that story didnt work yesterday.
    I can see OM is sometimes faced with – no win – choices

  19. Kay Huey August 4, 2015 7:01 am

    Welcome, Jeff! I’m sure your considerable talents will be much appreciated in the coming months.

  20. Dana August 4, 2015 6:44 am

    Welcome “New Guy”. Hope this title is short term and others want to follow. Good luck and look forward to hearing more!