Developing a Routine

I have been in Wisconsin for two weeks and the crane chicks have been here for a week and a half. We are developing a routine.

On weekdays Brooke and I go out early, 6 am-ish. We open the doors, cross our fingers that numbers 2-17 and 7-17 will cooperate today, and out they come. The other five are pretty trustworthy and happy to follow us. Cranes 2 and 7 are getting better. 

Whooping crane colt #2-17.

These birds prove the old cliche “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence” like it’s their job. Number 1-17 will follow us for a bit then you can see his head turn and look longingly toward the marsh. He sees us waving, flapping and bobbing our puppets and decides “screw it” and off he goes. Soon others follow.

There are somethings that Whooping Cranes need to be taught, like a migration route and maybe even to roost in water. That’s why the decoy lovingly known by craniacs as Dummy Mummy hangs in the shallow water near the dry pen. One thing they don’t need to be taught is to forage. The first walk #1-17 went on when he was about 5 days old, he found every earthworm in his path. He can now sniff one out at 50 yards. They all look at that marsh as a giant treasure hunt! 

We keep our eyes on them, counting over and over. So far, last Friday is the only time we got a bit sweaty, thinking #7-17 had slipped away behind some willows and out of sight. Brooke found her in the cattails and it sure looked like she was happy to be found. She followed him back to the pen area as fast as those long legs could go.

After we get them back into the pen we give them the once over and make sure they have food in the feeders. We then turn on the hot wire and leave them to forage in the huge new pen. With two ponds and lots of vegetation to explore they are happy colts.

After we leave the chicks we track the adult whooping cranes in the area, 5-12 is with 30-16, 4-14 (aka Peanut) and 11-15 are chums and 4-13 is with 10-15 are all nearby. A few times a week we go further and check on 42 & 24-09 and their chick W3-17. Brooke has had to haze them away from a busy road a few times. I know I hold my breath every time we go there and Brooke turns a pretty shade of blue till he spots the chick and finds it still alive. This pair has never fledged a chick before and all of us love it, it’s nearly the same age as our chicks. When we can’t spot it there is more breath holding till Bev does her crane flight and Brooke gets the phone call or I get a text saying she has seen it and it’s alive. Then, you can feel every muscle in your body relax… till the next time.

The wildlife between the pen and camp makes the drive back and forth really enjoyable. We have a Sandhill family close to camp and one near the pen.

There are tiny rabbits everywhere right now. Turtles are nesting and have to be helped to the other side of the road on occasion. Goldfinches streak around like liquid Sunshine.

And then, there is the wildlife in camp. I put a bird feeder right by the front door in the hopes of bird watching from my trailer. The cats and I both love watching out the window or screen door. I was hoping for Brooke’s Pheasant Phred. So far I have not seen Phred, but have attracted the cutest Chipmunks and a mama Skunk and her 5 kittens.

The bird feeder has now been moved away from my front door! I look around very respectfully when I open the door and so far so good, I have not gotten sprayed. 

And last but not least, since this is a bird project, we are also monitoring the Robin family and her little ones who’s nest is on the power pole in camp. 


It’s been a nice first week!

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  1. Catherine Wohlfeil July 4, 2017 9:04 pm

    Great update! It sounds like you’ve got quite the menagerie there! You take wonderful care of those little whoopers! Keep up the great work! I enjoy your posts!

  2. Bobbie (piscesbobbie) July 4, 2017 1:38 pm

    Thank you Colleen for sharing. So 24-09 and 42-09 have been together since 2011? Hoping this year is a successful fledge for them!

  3. Grandma July 4, 2017 12:00 pm

    Good morning Colleen
    Thank you for the wonderful newsy update. I enjoyed it very much. Enjoy your day!

  4. Jean P. aka CrabtowneMd July 4, 2017 11:50 am

    Wonderful update and news about all the wildlife you see. TY for all you and OM do. Your photos are so enjoyable and appreciated.

  5. lilbirdz July 4, 2017 10:34 am

    I worry enough about the colts so I hope that the Tumes stop holding their breath and please breathe! It was a pleasant surprise to have sound on the cam yesterday 🙂 I would love to chat, but youtube wants real names to appear. So I will just say hi in this box to Ginny, Heather, JoBel, G-Dad, and all the other nice folks who love the cranes.

    • Heather Ray July 4, 2017 10:45 am

      Lil, you can change your name by clicking the round photo icon at the top right. Then click the larger round icon that appears. Next, select the pencil icon next to the name field. You can be whoever you want to be. Note: it sometimes takes an hour or two for the change to take effect.

    • Craniachumbird July 4, 2017 1:52 pm

      Hi Lilbirdz . I too love the cam and would love to chat again. I don’t want to sign onto yet another site. Thank you OM for taking such good care of our chicks. I’m still here watching. And Hi to all of my craniac friends.

      • Heather Ray July 5, 2017 4:30 am

        Hum, you already have a gmail address so you’d only need to login to your gmail account. Youtube is owned by Google 🙂

  6. Sandee Kosmo July 4, 2017 10:26 am

    Thank you for your beautifully written descriptions and updates of all the whoopers and all the other new hatches and newborns there. It’s a joy to hear from the field.


  7. Richard P. Chase July 4, 2017 9:05 am

    Paws you obviously aren’t familiar with squirrel’s.

  8. Rolando July 4, 2017 8:57 am

    A Big Thank You

  9. Paws July 4, 2017 8:24 am

    Firstly, that is not a proper bird feeder. A bird feeder is something that is suspended so that ONLY birds can access it.

    Secondly, in what universe will your feeding these skunks end well for them? Feeding them will not teach them how to forage for the natural food items they need in their diet. It lessens their fear of humans – you should realize this, as you keep asking people to stay away from the cranes so that they don’t become accustomed to humans. I’m shocked that you consider this acceptable. It is very selfish.

    • Colleen July 4, 2017 9:27 am

      Well I am sorry you feel that way Paws. My bird feeder is a cheap way to feed birds. I can’t afford expensive right now.
      I did my homework when the adult first showed up this is what I learned:
      Skunks are one of the most misunderstood wild animals. People don’t realize that the skunk is actually a very docile, benign animal whose severe near-sightedness often gets them in trouble. They don’t waste their defensive spray because they can’t “re-load” very quickly, so they don’t waste their defensive spray. Instead, they stamp their front feet as a warning if another creature gets too close, giving ample opportunity for the “threat” to back off.
      “They will leave as soon as the young are old enough. The simplest option is to wait for the skunks to leave on their own”
      It’s is a great site to learn about them: