Can’t We Just All Get Along?

Not when there are raging hormones involved, it seems.

Yesterday was a peaceful day at White River Marsh when out of the sky dropped TWO Whooping cranes. They quickly met up with the male #5-12 and they all seemed pretty chill for awhile.

Then they started calling – throwing heads skyward. The sound was incredible and then… WHAMO – SLAMO – KAPOOEY!

There was a white blur that I tried desperately to keep up with on the CraneCam but my eyeballs has almost fallen out.

Here’s a screen grab – Be sure to watch the video!

Two male Whooping cranes 5-12, 4-13 and one female: 7-14

Two male Whooping cranes 5-12, 4-13 and one female: 7-14

The pair consisting of 4-13 and 7-14 have been at their normal summer home less than 10 miles from White River Marsh. I guess they decided on a little trip yesterday.

The female Whooping crane (8-14) that showed up last Friday is still at the marsh. Here’s a photo of her trying to cool off in the shade in yesterdays high 80’s temperature.

Female Whooping crane 8-14. Photo: Rich Smith

Female Whooping crane 8-14. Photo: Rich Smith

While I’m sure it’s cooler further into the tree lot, if she were to venture in and then came across a predator, she would have a difficult time flying away. At the edge of the trees, she can still make a quick get-a-way… If needed.

The other pair consisting of 4-12 & 3-14 are still at the north end of the marsh.

For those that like to keep score – that makes six Whoopers at White River (three males and three females).

WANTED

The 2016 Whooping Crane Festival is just around the corner, and with it comes one of OM’s most exciting fundraising campaigns, our annual auctions. We are pleased to announce that, like last year, the auctions will be held in both at the Festival AND online! At the Festival’s Friday night dinner we will feature a few super-special items, then have many more items available for fast and furious bidding at Saturday’s Festival. And because we know that not everyone can attend the Festival in Princeton, Wisconsin, we will conduct an online auction on our Facebook page.

How can you help make our auctions successful? I’m glad you asked! You can help in three ways. First, if you have an item you’d like to donate, we’d be thrilled to accept it. Second, you can help us by thinking of businesses who might be interested in making a donation. Lastly (and most importantly), you can BID BID BID when the auctions open! Read on for more details…

To donate an item, click here. Fill out the online form and click “Submit.” Then, just ship or mail your item to the Princeton Chamber of Commerce (The address is on the item donation form and below) who has graciously offered to receive and store all our items until the Whooping Crane Festival in September.

Once we have received your item, the auction committee will determine which auction it best suits, and it will be assigned accordingly. No single item will appear in multiple auctions, and the auction committee reserves the right to make this determination. For example, many of the items that are light weight and easily mailed will be assigned to the online auction. If it is heavy or bulky, it will be featured in one of the auctions held on Festival weekend so that it can travel home safely with the winning bidder.

If you come up with businesses that might be interested in making a donation, email the information to me at jbellemer(AT)operationmigration.org, including the name of the business, the address, and a brief description of what they do and/or what you think they might offer. I’ll then send a solicitation letter to the business explaining OM’s mission and the auctions.

Below are some FAQs that hopefully will answer your questions. If not, feel free to email me!

HOW DO I DONATE AN ITEM? Use our online form to tell us about your item and then ship it to the Princeton Chamber of Commerce at 104 E. Main St., Princeton, WI 54968.

CAN I DECIDE WHICH AUCTION I’D LIKE MY ITEM FEATURED IN? While we wish we could offer that option, it simply isn’t feasible due to the many items and the amount of work we have to do. The auction committee will decide which auction is best suited for your item in the best interest of OM.

CAN I SUGGEST AN OPENING BID FOR MY ITEM? The only opening bids that will be set are to cover postage costs for items that will be mailed to the winners. Otherwise, we can run afoul of IRS rules and regulations. (see next question/response)

WILL I RECEIVE A TAX DEDUCTION RECEIPT FROM OM? No, OM cannot issue tax receipts for goods donated without running into IRS rules about “fair market value”. The IRS states that to issue a tax-deductible receipt for a donated item “Fair Market Value” must be determined by obtaining three appraisals for each item. As you can imagine, this simply isn’t feasible.

WHAT IS THE CUTOFF DATE FOR SENDING IN MY ITEM? Our cutoff for receiving items is August 12th. This allows us enough time to inventory the items, determine which auction they go in, photograph them, and write descriptions. As you can imagine, we have a lot of work to do and cannot leave many items until the last minute. On a case-by-case basis we can make exceptions, such as if we make other arrangements for your item because it is being driven to Wisconsin. Other than that, August 12th!

WHEN ARE THE AUCTIONS? The Whooping Crane Festival will be held the weekend of September 10th, 2016. There will be a dinner on Friday night, 9/9, at which there will be a silent auction featuring a small number of items. On Saturday, at the all-day Festival, there will be a much larger silent auction. The online (Facebook) auction will open on 9/6 and close at noon on 9/25.

WHAT IF I DON’T USE FACEBOOK – CAN I STILL PARTICIPATE IN THE ONLINE AUCTION? Facebook is our best online venue as there are large numbers of supporters communicating regularly there. To bid on Facebook, you can either set up an account there temporarily, just for the auction, and then close it afterwards, or have a friend who DOES use Facebook submit your bids.

WHAT IF MY ITEM DOESN’T SELL AT ONE OF THE AUCTIONS? We have never had an “orphaned item” at prior auctions, but in that unlikely event, we will either hold onto it until next year, or we will donate the item to a worthy charitable organization in the Princeton, WI area.

Any other questions can be emailed to JBellemer(AT)operationmigration.org.

In Case you Missed it…

Following intense downpours for most of Friday, the grass training strip at White River Marsh was very popular with the wildlife.

This continued throughout Saturday and at one point a recently fledged Bald eagle decided to visit. Its stay was cut short rather abruptly when male Whooping crane 5-12 arrived to survey ‘his’ territory.

5-12vseagle

In this screengrab, that is the back end of the eagle you seen exiting stage left. (Thanks Cathy Fouche for the grab)

 

Now check out the video clip. Move the video slider along the bottom to the 5 minute mark and watch how this 4 yr. old male Whooping crane zig-zags his way nonchalantly to the eagle then POW – jump rake!

Mystery Whooper

** UPDATE – the ‘mystery’ crane is no longer a mystery. It is in fact female #8-14 according to a PTT hit just received. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a screengrab.

Yesterday afternoon – roughly 3pm Central time, a second Whooping crane flew in, seemingly from the south.

The male, 5-12 (aka Henry) had been calling and immediately walked out to the north end of the training site to investigate the new arrival.

I wish he would call the office to tell us the legband combination he saw so we could solve the mystery. The vegetation is pretty tall and the bands pretty small to get a positive ID but we (CraneCam viewers) think we saw Green/White on the left leg.

This would narrow the possibilities somewhat. It could even include females 1 & 2-15 in the range, but the crane that flew in is a full adult and the latter two don’t quite have their red crowns yet.

It MAY be female 8-14, who has been spending her summer about 50 miles south in Dane County, WI. She spent most of the previous summer at the same location – except for a few weeks when she ventured to Livingston County, IL.

Here’s a screengrab showing the two Whooping cranes in the marsh:

5-12 n friend

The mystery crane roosted in the same area last night so we’ll have eyes on he/she again this morning to see if we can determine just who this is…

If you’d like to watch what happened yesterday, here’s a link to the archived clip.

Check out the CraneCam if you’re curious to find out.

Here’s 8-14’s PTT hit:

The blue dot is a class 3 (good quality) hit placing her off the north end of the runway and right in front of the CraneCam at White River Marsh.

The blue dot is a class 3 (good quality) hit placing her off the north end of the runway and right in front of the CraneCam at White River Marsh.

Calling all Auction Items!

The 2016 Whooping Crane Festival is just around the corner, and with it comes one of OM’s most exciting fundraising campaigns, our annual auctions. We are pleased to announce that, like last year, the auctions will be held in both at the Festival AND online! At the Festival’s Friday night dinner we will feature a few super-special items, then have many more items available for fast and furious bidding at Saturday’s Festival. And because we know that not everyone can attend the Festival in Princeton, Wisconsin, we will conduct an online auction on our Facebook page.

How can you help make our auctions successful? I’m glad you asked! You can help in three ways. First, if you have an item you’d like to donate, we’d be thrilled to accept it. Second, you can help us by thinking of businesses who might be interested in making a donation. Lastly (and most importantly), you can BID BID BID when the auctions open! Read on for more details…

To donate an item, click here. Fill out the online form and click “Submit.” Then, just ship or mail your item to the Princeton Chamber of Commerce (The address is on the item donation form and below) who has graciously offered to receive and store all our items until the Whooping Crane Festival in September.

Once we have received your item, the auction committee will determine which auction it best suits, and it will be assigned accordingly. No single item will appear in multiple auctions, and the auction committee reserves the right to make this determination. For example, many of the items that are light weight and easily mailed will be assigned to the online auction. If it is heavy or bulky, it will be featured in one of the auctions held on Festival weekend so that it can travel home safely with the winning bidder.

If you come up with businesses that might be interested in making a donation, email the information to me at jbellemer(AT)operationmigration.org, including the name of the business, the address, and a brief description of what they do and/or what you think they might offer. I’ll then send a solicitation letter to the business explaining OM’s mission and the auctions.

Below are some FAQs that hopefully will answer your questions. If not, feel free to email me!

HOW DO I DONATE AN ITEM? Use our online form to tell us about your item and then ship it to the Princeton Chamber of Commerce at 104 E. Main St., Princeton, WI 54968.

CAN I DECIDE WHICH AUCTION I’D LIKE MY ITEM FEATURED IN? While we wish we could offer that option, it simply isn’t feasible due to the many items and the amount of work we have to do. The auction committee will decide which auction is best suited for your item in the best interest of OM.

CAN I SUGGEST AN OPENING BID FOR MY ITEM? The only opening bids that will be set are to cover postage costs for items that will be mailed to the winners. Otherwise, we can run afoul of IRS rules and regulations. (see next question/response)

WILL I RECEIVE A TAX DEDUCTION RECEIPT FROM OM? No, OM cannot issue tax receipts for goods donated without running into IRS rules about “fair market value”. The IRS states that to issue a tax-deductible receipt for a donated item “Fair Market Value” must be determined by obtaining three appraisals for each item. As you can imagine, this simply isn’t feasible.

WHAT IS THE CUTOFF DATE FOR SENDING IN MY ITEM? Our cutoff for receiving items is August 12th. This allows us enough time to inventory the items, determine which auction they go in, photograph them, and write descriptions. As you can imagine, we have a lot of work to do and cannot leave many items until the last minute. On a case-by-case basis we can make exceptions, such as if we make other arrangements for your item because it is being driven to Wisconsin. Other than that, August 12th!

WHEN ARE THE AUCTIONS? The Whooping Crane Festival will be held the weekend of September 10th, 2016. There will be a dinner on Friday night, 9/9, at which there will be a silent auction featuring a small number of items. On Saturday, at the all-day Festival, there will be a much larger silent auction. The online (Facebook) auction will open on 9/6 and close at noon on 9/25.

WHAT IF I DON’T USE FACEBOOK – CAN I STILL PARTICIPATE IN THE ONLINE AUCTION? Facebook is our best online venue as there are large numbers of supporters communicating regularly there. To bid on Facebook, you can either set up an account there temporarily, just for the auction, and then close it afterwards, or have a friend who DOES use Facebook submit your bids.

WHAT IF MY ITEM DOESN’T SELL AT ONE OF THE AUCTIONS? We have never had an “orphaned item” at prior auctions, but in that unlikely event, we will either hold onto it until next year, or we will donate the item to a worthy charitable organization in the Princeton, WI area.

Any other questions can be emailed to JBellemer(AT)operationmigration.org.

They’re Baaaaack…

A couple weeks ago we told you that the group of four ultralight cranes from last year had ventured 80 miles or so into Illinois and were spending time feeding at a flooded ag field.

The group consists of 6, 8, 10 & 11-15.

Cellular hits received late yesterday for two of the group indicate they are back in neighboring Winnebago County, Wisconsin. We’re assuming the group is still intact but eagerly await confirmation.

They’re only ~25 miles from White River Marsh so we’ll have to keep all eyes on the CraneCam to see if they stop in for a visit!

Here’s a Google Earth grab showing what their May travels look like:

4group

Elsewhere – number 2-15 has finally left Door County and has found a lovely wetland in Waukesha County, and number 1-15 is in a great location in Rock County, Wisconsin.

Part 3 – The Capture

Capture: Part Three

“Great!” Marianne replied into the phone.  We HAD our Capture Permit and it was “high five” smiles all around.  Now, all we had to do was catch the little boogers. But first there was another important call to answer. It was Nature’s and she just hates “Call Waiting.” Who doesn’t? So it was off to town for a potty break.  Next time I go on one of these expeditions, I’m towing a Porta Potty with a pen attached to its sides. Not only would it kill two birds with one stone, (Gosh! Did I really say that!”), it would provide seating for an additional crew member. “Buckle Up!”

The waitress at the coffee shop was the same one who waited on us the night before at a different restaurant in a different town.  There goes that “Twilight Zone” theme again. But it’s like that in small towns. Everyone does what they have to do. “Have any luck catching those cranes?” she asked. “Oh, those are the crane people you were telling me about,” the other waitress asked her.  Word does get around.

But potty breaks, or coffee breaks as they are sometimes called, are good opportunities for folks to get to know each other and catch up. I have known Marianne since I first began working on this project. Asking someone how long they have been working for ICF is like asking a woman her age. So, since I have to work with her for the rest of this story, I’ll just say she’s been at ICF between 20 and 30 years.  Marianne is married to Robert Doyle who works at Patuxent. They met and married while working on this project.  “With this crane, I thee wed.” It’s that connection thing again, as I well know.  She has been in charge of the DAR Project since it began in Necedah back in 2005 and is without a doubt one of the most knowledgeable crane people on the project.

And the last time I saw Hillary, it was at night in the marsh down at St Marks. I was coming out after locating our chicks that had unceremoniously flown out of the pen just as the world went dark when I came upon her and her fellow Clemson University graduate student, Sloan. Now, running into someone else in the out in the middle of nowhere marsh at night is like accidentally bumping into Big Foot. It’s not an experience you soon forget. They were in the area tracking WCEP birds from previous years as part of their Master’s Thesis.  She had been at ICF for two years prior to the two years of graduate school and had just returned to a full time position a few short weeks before. It was great to see her again… during the day.

It was the first time I’d worked with Andy, except for a brief banding session some years back. He has been at ICF nine years. He met his wife there, if I remember right. She went on to the University of Wisconsin and received her PhD. They have two young children, the youngest of whom was going to turn three the following Monday, but the Birthday Party was this coming Saturday, which meant we had better hurry up and catch those birds. Otherwise, the birds were going to be attending the party… as the main course!

From left: Andy Gossens, Hillary Thompson and Marianne Wellington-Doyle.

From left: Andy Gossens, Hillary Thompson and Marianne Wellington.

And so, for the rest of the day, we patiently worked our magic on the birds while they did the same to us.  The gusty, high winds and thick gray overcast plotted to dampen the spirit of our effort and increase the reluctance of the birds to cooperate.  The wind set the pen top netting to dancing and fueled their suspicion and reluctance to enter the pen. We were resigned to the fact that it was just going to take time.

But it was time well spent and in a way I would not have expected.  We were blessed with the wonderful opportunity to get to know the neighbors… and their dogs.  We became part of the daily ebb and flow of neighborhood activities as the residents stopped by to chat.  And little by little, I had the feeling that our capture team was growing. They were interested in and accepting of not only our efforts but of us, and soon I sensed we were becoming more than just in their community but part of it, if only temporarily. This little rural stretch of road was fast becoming a very special place at a very special time.

“Do you want to see the picture I took of the feral cow in my back yard?” Lloyd’s wife asked. It was like asking us if we’d like to see a picture of the Lock Ness Monster. “Sure would,” we answered.  She held up her smart phone and there it was… the feral cow. “Wow!” I said. “It really exists.” She looked at me, smiling good naturedly and the thought balloon lifted up above her head. “Of course it exists, Crane Boy!  Didn’t you believe me? Who would lie about a feral cow, anyway?” She had a point.

Then Mike pulled up in his truck to see how things were going. “I used to raise pigeons years ago”, he said. “Then I graduated to parrots.  I had a great time with them.” Mike was a retired injection molding machine operator and had been a Marine in Viet Nam. I had no doubt if we had handed him a costume and said, “Here. Put this on and come out and help us,” he would have been suited up and down at the pen before we even got our hoods on.  Whooping cranes are nothing, if not enthusiasm generators. We work very hard to insure they are part of our world, while they effortlessly make us want to be a part of theirs.

And so, for the rest of the day we continued our “Just come little bit closer… PLEASE” sessions and were encouraged at our slow but sure progress. I must admit my patience was, at times, truly tried when I was almost within grasp of one of them.  Just one quick lunge and desperate grasp and maybe we would have at least something on the score board. Fortunately, I was continually reminded by that voice of my invisible friend who always insists on coming with me on these trips. “Just remember,” Captain Crane Man.  White suited men can’t jump!” He was right. But some of us can do a mean HOP.

I got lost returning to the motel, so by the time arrived, the night manager was behind the counter. “Are you one of those bird people?” she asked. “I hope to be.” I answered.  Then she continued, “I had a pet rooster for about a year when I worked in Tennessee.  He lived up on the roof of the mobile home I was renting. And every morning when I got home from work, there he’d be, standing by the door waiting. I’d invite him in and have something to eat and drink. Then he’d go back out the door and back up onto the roof.  Funny thing was, he got kind of posssesive and didn’t like any of my friends coming to the house.  He’d start screaming and hollering and actually attack them if they didn’t get inside fast enough.  Do your birds act like that?” I laughed and shook my head, “Not that I know of.”  I asked her directions to the nearest hospital, just in case, and headed upstairs to my room.

Tomorrow would be another day and with any luck at all, it would be THE day.

Aerial Survey Results

Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan flew a survey Tuesday and found the following:

Chicks seen:

12-02/4-11 with W3-16 Juneau County, WI (photo below)
12/5-11 with W4-16 Juneau County, WI (photo below)
3/7-11 with W5-16 Juneau County, WI (photo below)

Could not locate 9-05/13-03 🙁

Pairs on nests:

7-07/39-07 Juneau County, WI
14-08/24-08 Juneau County, WI
15-09/11-02 Juneau County, WI
25-09/2-04 Juneau County, WI
W1-06/1-10 Juneau County, WI
27-06/26-09 Juneau County, WI
3-04/9-03 Juneau County, WI
4-08/34-09 Juneau County, WI
18-09/23-10 Juneau County, WI
18-03/36-09 Juneau County, WI
29-09/12-03 Juneau County, WI
16-02/16-07 Juneau County, WI
1-04/8-05 Juneau County, WI
10-10/41-09 Juneau County, WI

Other pairs seen:

5-10/28-08 Marathon County, WI (off nest)
6-11/15-11 Wood County, WI
8-10/32-09 Juneau County, WI
38-09 with unknown bird Juneau County, WI
24-09/42-09 Adams County, WI (off nest)
19-11/17-11 Juneau County, WI (off nest)
20-14/11-09 Juneau County, WI
18-02/13-02 Juneau County, WI
19-14/29-08 Juneau County, WI

Dad #12-02 and Mom 4-11 with their young Whooping crane chick.

Dad #12-02 and Mom 4-11 with their three week old Whooping crane chick #W3-16. Photo: Bev Paulan

Mom 12-11 and her young crane chick

Mom 12-11 and her young crane chick #W4-16. Photo: Bev Paulan

Mom 7-11 & Dad 3-11 with chick #W5-16. Photo: Bev Paulan

Mom 7-11 & Dad 3-11 with chick #W5-16. Photo: Bev Paulan

Female 25-09 with her two eggs. Photo: Bev Paulan

Female 25-09 with her two eggs. Photo: Bev Paulan

29_09 12_03_1

Dad 29-09 and Mom 12-3 switch incubation duties. Photo: Bev Paulan

36_09 18_03_1

Mom 36-09 and Dad 18-03 also switch duties incubating their two eggs. Photo: Bev Paulan

Another Hatch!

We have just learned that male #1-11 and his mate #59-13 (Latka) have successfully hatched a chick in St. Croix County, WI.

Regular readers will recall two days ago we reported “Bev was also able to check on the new pair consisting of male 1-11 and 59-13 (Latka) in St. Croix County, WI. We received word this pair was incubating on April 8 and When Bev flew over them Thursday, April 12 they were still sitting. It appears the egg(s) are infertile as they are well beyond the typical 29-31 day period.”

It turns out there was indeed a chick, which was likely brooding at the time of Bev’s flyover.

59-13 on the nest platform with her cinnamon chick to her right. Photo: Chris Trogen

59-13 on the nest platform with her cinnamon chick to her right. Photo: Chris Trogen

Special thanks to the local USFWS Wetland Management District for sharing this news and keeping a watch over the new family.

I Found a Baby Bird…

Now What – you’re likely asking yourself.

First, determine if it is a nesting or a fledgling. A nestling will have no feathers and is basically helpless. A fledgling will be feathered and mobile (walking, hopping and perhaps some flight capabilities).

Nestlings will need to be returned to the nest if at all possible. Contrary to popular belief, handling the tiny chick to place it back into a nest will not cause the parents to abandon it.

In the case of a fledgling, the parents are most likely nearby and you should return it to the location you found it.

In most cases, these birds do not need our help and intervening can make the situation worse.

Read these tips from All About Birds so you’re prepared this nesting season!

Foursome Photos

As we mentioned last week a foursome of ’15 cranes backtracked from Wisconsin and has been spending time at a flooded ag field in LaSalle County, IL since then.

As a refresher – this group consists of Whooping cranes 6-15, 8-15, 10-15 & 11-15.

Steve Patterson shared a few of the photos he captured yesterday with his full-frame, mega-zoom camera and we thought you’d enjoy.

Female Whooping crane 8-15.

Female Whooping crane 8-15.

On the wing...

On the wing…

On the right is the lone male from the group, #11-15.

On the right is the lone male from the group, #11-15.

Thanks for sharing Steve!

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