ARANSAS WHOOPER ‘LOBSTICK’ – A MYSTERY -Entry 2

During April 2012 a Whooping crane was found dead near Miller, South Dakota and speculation was that the bird was one of the famous Lobstick pair.

On learning that tour boat operator Tommy Moore believed Lobstick was alive and on his territory at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Chester McConnell, Web Administrator for the Whooping Crane Conservation Association (WCCA) contacted retired Whooping Crane Coordinator Tom Stehn for his thoughts.

In response to Chester’s inquiry, Tom wrote a captivating piece about Lobstick. Click to read Tom Stehn’s article.

GEORGIA’S ‘SNOWBIRDS’ – Entry 1

Florida is not the only State that has Snowbirds (the nickname for Canadians wintering there). However, the Georgia Snowbirds we refer to here are of the avian variety.

Four of the Eastern Migratory Population have made an area to the north of Valdosta, Georgia their winter home for several years and the landowner ‘winter monitors’ eagerly await their return each fall. Sue B. emailed at the end of November to let us know their ‘ beautiful babies’ had arrived and sent along photos.

From the Class of 2007, 7-07 and his mate, female DAR39-07 have made Lowndes County, GA their winter haven since 2008. DAR39-07 only travelled as far as Tennessee on her first migration and was part of a wayward group of five DARs that returned to Michigan instead of Wisconsin. Three of that group of five DARs, including #39, were eventually captured in June of 2008 and transported from Michigan to Necedah, WI. She, along with along with males 7-07, 3-07 and DAR42-07 spent part of the rest of the summer in Minnesota.

DAR 38-08 also only traveled to Tennessee on her first migration, however she managed to find Necedah on her return trip to Wisconsin and by the spring of 2010 she was associating with ultralight-led crane 3-07. Since becoming a pair they have wintered at 3-07’s favorite spot in Lowndes County, making it a quartet of Whooping cranes spending time there much to the delight of their landowner hosts.

Interestingly, it seems that while 7-07 and his lady spend almost all their time in this one location, 3-07 and his mate only come for occasional visits.

When the cranes initially chose this area as their wintering ground, they were first spotted by Haley H. and she too has been keeping up with them ever since. Here’s a link to her latest offering posted to Youtube.

FREEDOM: WEEK ONE

THE EXPLORERS’ CLUB by Brooke Pennypacker

“So…how are those birds doing?”

“Great!  They love it here.”

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And they do. Every day is an adventure for them and no two days are the same. They’re still at the very beginning of their exploratory phase, a time punctuated by longer and more frequent flights out of the pen into all that’s beyond.

Like yo yo’s with strings of ever increasing lengths, they fly out farther and farther, their aerial wanderings punctuated by tentative landings followed by episodes of ground testing section after section of salt marsh. The neighbors…wild pigs, shore birds, deer… look on in casual amusement as beaks sound the sandy depths for fiddler crabs, snails, and presumably loose change.

All the while the social order undergoes its ebb and flow, connects and disconnects. For most of the week, #4, 5, and 6 hung together, keeping their own council and satisfying their collective adventuresome spirit with flights in and out of the pen.

They were the first to boldly go where no crane had ever gone before, only to walk back and look in with frustration at #7 and 11, while their beaks raked the plastic fencing as if to cut a gate on which a sign flashed with big red letters, “Entrance”. Then, when their level of concern approached panic, the epiphany struck.

With the realization that the answer rested in their wings and not their beaks, they immediately modified that basic law by which all cranes must live…”What goes up… must come down,” with the additional clause, “What flies out… must fly in”, and “Presto chango”… into the pen they flapped. “Cool!” you could almost hear them exclaim.

But #7 and 11 were satisfied to remain pen-bound, choosing to pursue the mysteries of the inside, while saving those of the outside for another day. There were blue crabs in the pond to wrestle with and taunting schools of bait fish to pursue. And there was the decoy at the end of the oyster bar that needed an butt-whooping, and stands of needle rush to be surveyed.

#7

#7

#11

#11

For to them, discovery is a thing to be seduced and savored and not a thing to be rushed.  “Stop and smell the needle rush!”, their inner voice commanded. And so it wasn’t until Monday that the two girls took their first big flight to the land beyond the pen, and once there, they behaved like seasoned travelers. Not even a hint of jet lag. I guess some things you just have to be ready for.

Now #7 can be seen hanging more with the boys. Did I say Boys? “What about #6?” you ask.  “She’s not a boy!” Maybe…and maybe not. After watching her/him lately I’m not so sure. Perhaps she just plays one on TV. You know the type. But then who cares. It’s a free country…..ain’t it?)

Amazing what one short flight can do to your world view of things. She now tramps across the sand flats with the Three Musketeers (or two Musketeers and one Musketeerette) like she owns the place and hasn’t got the slightest intention of returning to the pen any time soon. “Let #11 hammer on the decoy” she says. “I’ve got other fish to fry!”

Meanwhile, #11 takes flight now and then, lands outside, hangs with the other four, then flies back into the pen and just does her own thing….whatever that is. A trip to the feeder for a snack, then to the bubbler for a drink, then to the oyster bar to be entertained by the aquatic  inhabitants and so on.

100_1595She appears as comfortable alone as she does as a part of the group, and is clearly the most spirited of the lot, occasionally given to bouts of playful dancing. To experience her encounter is to smile.

And so it goes.

MIGRATION STORY, Walker County, AL – Entry 2

FUN WITH JACK FROST by Julia Anthony

We woke to a cold but flyable morning. Everyone rushed to pull things together at our airport/camp site and get on the road to the pen. Timing is everything on such mornings. The diesel vehicles have to be started in time for them to warm up. The ground crew must leave for the 10 to 15 minute trip to the pensite before the pilots are ready to push the trikes from the hangers, but only after they have grabbed the spare fuel cans from the back of the pickup truck. Everything and everyone must be ready when the sun peeks over the horizon.

Having accomplished all of the practical parts of the job, I was not really prepared for the morning that awaited us. Geoff and I walked out through the field to the hidden pensite. Everything was covered with a layer of frost so in the predawn light the fields looked like a great gray lake. It was very quiet. No birds or cows protested our passing. The loudest noise was the crunching of our boots on the frozen ground.

We arrived at the pen and set about prepping it for opening the gate panels and releasing the birds. Everything we touched was fuzzy with frost. Not the flat almost dusting of snow, but the three dimensional crystals of Jack Frost at his most creative. With our chores complete Geoff moved off a distance to notify the pilots that we were ready. I stayed by the pen.

The sun cleared the treeline. The first rays of dawn hit the top net, and suddenly I was standing next to a shimmering tent. The entire net was covered in frost crystals. Every intersection of material reflected a pin source of light in a ‘cobweb covered in dew’ effect.

The sun climbed higher and revealed the performers in that tent of light. Each chick had donned a diamond studded cloak for the occasion. Their movements, always graceful, seemed like choreographed ballet steps as their feathers twinkled with each change of position. Ever the characters they strutted and preened showing off their new bling in a performance that only I witnessed.

It was pure magic and a sight I will never forget!

GLASS, BIRDS, AND CANADA: A PROGRESS REPORT – Entry 1

The December issue of THE BIRDING COMMUNITY E-BULLETIN included an article of interest to birders, and particularly to residents of Ontario’s Greater Toronto Area. A reprint is posted below.

“We have covered glass-and-glare concerns in past issues of the E-bulletin, most recently in May when we discussed two crucial and pending court cases in Ontario, both concerned with making the skies safer for migrant birds: http://refugeassociation.org/?p=5497#ontario

The first of these two Toronto-area court cases and decided in mid-November, presents a mixed message for safe skies. On 14 November, Justice of the Peace William Turtle dismissed three charges against the Consilium Place/Menkes property where an estimated 800+ birds were killed in crashes between 2008 and 2009. This cluster of high-rise towers has long been considered Toronto’s deadliest building complex for killing migrating birds.

Turtle recognized that birds had been killed at the location, but he held that the property owners could not be held responsible for the natural light discharge and their reflection at the buildings. In the meantime, the owners – sold by Menkes to Kevric Real Estate Corporation in July – have spent thousands of dollars retrofitting the towers with corrective film to protect the birds.

This is core to the mixed message. Working with Toronto-based Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), Consilium Place retrofitted towers with an outer-layer of film intending to steer birds away from the building. The company also established “bird action stations” to assist FLAP volunteers to collect and tag bird victims, and obtained a federal permit to do so on site, all in accordance with Turtle’s ruling.

“We’re disappointed by the decision,” said Albert Koehl, lawyer for Ecojustice, one of the two environmental groups involved with the case. “However, the irony is that the building has now been retrofitted with window film. The number of collisions is dramatically down, so there are obviously solutions that do work.”

Michael Mesure, FLAP’s executive director, has reported that the bird collisions at this property have dropped to about 200 in 2012. Mesure said that the owner’s work, as well as the City of Toronto’s mandatory bird-friendly building guidelines, which cover projects started after 2010, are a “step in the right direction.” But more needs to be done to protect the birds.

The second crucial case – as we described in May – involves the Yonge Corporate Center, where about 2,000 dead birds have been collected between 2000 and 2010, and 800 between March and November 2010 alone. Judge Melvin Green should present his delayed judgment in this case in early February. Here also, the most deadly building in the center has recently been retrofitted with the same film as an experiment. Again, there have been favorable results.

According to FLAP at least one million birds are annually killed in building/glass/reflection collisions in Toronto, and this figure could conceivably be much higher. According to FLAP’s Mesure, legislative action is what is really needed. “We desperately need to find a way to make this included in the environmental law.”

TOO CLOSE!

By Joe Duff

Over the weekend one of our supporters sent us some photos of #11 and 15-09 as they foraged in Florida. The supporter is very familiar with our project and took the images from an appropriate distance, however it was hard not to notice the other person in the foreground who doesn’t seem to appreciate the effort it took to keep these birds wild. It is almost as hard to teach the birds to migrate as it is to teach people to give them the distance they need.

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It is not an easy concept when you consider that since childhood, people like Beatrix Potter and Walt Disney taught us that all animals are just furred or feathered versions of ourselves. It is natural to apply our own values and logic to animals of all kinds, but they live by different rules than we do.

They don’t understand our good intentions when we get too close, or even try to feed them. Instead. they learn not to fear humans. That lesson can have dire consequences when they encounter someone with other motives.

It is hard to understand why Whooping cranes need a greater buffer zone when we see Sandhill cranes or Canada geese in parks and at backyard feeders. Why do they need special treatment when other birds can co-habitate on golf courses?

The answer is in the numbers. The large population of geese can withstand the loss of the few that ingest plastic wrappers, are hit by cars or, take a golf ball to the forehead.

There are only a hundred Whooping cranes in the Eastern Flyway. Each one is there because nine separate, government and private agencies pool their expertise and resources to make it happen. Whooping cranes roam freely in the east because a special clause in the Endangered Species Act was signed into law by the Secretary of the Interior, and twenty US States and two Canadian Provinces agreed to cooperate.

The first Whooping cranes in more than one hundred year now migrate east of the Mississippi because Field Teams from Patuxent, ICF and OM work seven days a week. We are on our way to having a second self-sustaining flock of Whooping cranes because thousands of people care enough to support the project – – – and to keep their distance. The loss of even one Whooping crane because of human interaction takes a toll on the success of this project and on the hearts of the people who have worked so hard.

The consequences of tameness are greater for Whooping cranes than for other birds. They didn’t learn their wildness from parents. Instead they were taught to be wary of humans – by humans; project staff and volunteers who spend hundreds of hours in full costume but can’t always teach a perfect lesson.

The wildness of a reintroduced Whooping crane is tenuous. It depends on distance and lack of human interaction. Instead of teaching them to fear humans, we depend on unfamiliarity, and hope that their fear of the unknown will keep them separated. But is it a battle between their natural curiosity and the vague resemblance of a costumed handler and a person with a camera.

A tame Whooping crane faces the same dangers as other birds that venture too close to humans. But, they also risk being pulled from the wild and kept in captivity.

A Whooping crane that interacts too often with people can pose a risk to the public because of its long beak and sharp claws. If they feel threatened, they can be aggressive, and WCEP cannot risk injury to the public because of an overly tame bird.

Two birds have been removed from this project because they showed no fear of people. All of the time, money and effort it took to get them out there in a natural and wild state was lost because someone thought a picture was more important.

MORE ON RETURNING ‘WHEELER NWR CRANES’ – Entry 3

According to one of the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge volunteers, there are now a total of five 2011 ultralight-led cranes at the refuge, in addition to two DAR’s from 2011.

The WCEP database confirms PTT hits over the weekend for numbers 4-11, DAR 15-11 and DAR 20-11. Given that 3, 4, 5 and 6-11 stayed together as a group for the summer/fall in Adams county, WI, it’s quite likely that they are still together. The other ultralight crane that has been confirmed present is #1-11.

Most recent hits for #7-11 (likely with #10 & 12) are in LaSalle County, IL.

WOOD BUFFALO-ARANSAS POPULATION UPDATE – Entry 1

According to the latest update from the Aransas NWR, Chester McConnell of the Whooping Crane Conservation Association (WCCA) advised that only a few Whooping cranes have still to finish their 2,500 mile fall migration from Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park to the Aransas refuge.

The first aerial census at Aransas was conducted on November 29 and additional flights will be take place before December 17. With the Wood Buffalo/Aransas flock producing 34 chicks – including 2 sets of twins – in the spring of 2012, it will be interesting to see what the size of the western population comes in at when the refuge releases its estimate following the analysis of the survey flights.

Visit the website of the WCCA to view a phenomenal photograph taken by Mike Umscheid of 16! count them! 16 Whooping cranes migrating south toward Aransas.

LEGAL BATTLE

On December 11th, VictoriaAdvocate.com published an article by journalist Dianna Wray on the ongoing legal battle between The Aransas Project (TAP) and The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, at the head of the lawsuit for the state of Texas. The bottom line in terms of the status of the case is that U.S. District Judge, Janis Jack has stated that she will have a ruling soon.

Read the full article here. Background articles: November 8 & 9December 4

LOUISIANA WHOOPERS, MISSISSIPPI SANDHILLS, & THE EMP

WHOOPERS DELIVERED TO LOUISIANA

Fourteen juvenile Whooping cranes raised at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland were flown by Windway Capital Corporation to the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Vermilion Parish on November 29th. Prior to being released, the cohort is penned until they acclimatize to their new surroundings.

The reintroduction of a non-migratory population of Whooping cranes in Louisiana is in its third season. Less than half of the first two year’s released birds are still alive however. The first cohort consisting of 10 birds was released in 2010 (2 survive), and 16 more were released in 2011 (12 survive). Upon the release of the fourteen young birds in the 2012 cohort the Louisiana Whooping crane population will double.

Two of the 2010 Louisiana cranes were shot and killed. Folks are reminded that Whooping cranes are protected under federal endangered species laws and cannot be pursued, harassed, captured, or killed.

Click to read more: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3

EVEN RARER THAN WHOOPING CRANES

Four, six month old Mississippi Sandhill cranes were recently moved to the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge in Gautier, Mississippi. The 4.5 foot tall young cranes were raised at the Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans by Crane Project Director Megan Savoie and her team. (Megan is the daughter of well-known and long time Craniac, Peg Lauber.)

Mississippi Sandhills were one of the first creatures placed on the Endangered Species List and only around 150 survive today. Almost all of the 100 of this species that are currently on the refuge in Gautier are either descendants of the original surviving small population, or were raised in captivity.

Click the link to read the full Associated Press article published in the Washington Examiner.

MIGRATING EASTERN MIGRATION POPULATION ADULTS

Lastly, we received the photo below from Bob Andrini of Illinois. He captured this image of three Eastern Migratory Population adults as they paused their migration in his State. The long grass prevents the identification of all but one of the cranes, DAR26-10. Several Whoopers in the EMP have favorite migration stop-offs in Illinois.

JUST AS IT SHOULD BE

It’s over. The training is done, the migration complete, and we can stop messing with mother nature and let these birds be wild.

From the moment the chicks hatch at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland they are under the care of a team of biologists, aviculturist, veterinarians, pilots, and migration experts. They are housed in predator proof pens and protected by electric fences. Their food is provided, they are medicated to protect them from disease and parasites, and they learn to water roost in an enclosed pond.

They are monitored in person or by camera every step of the way. During the migration we control where and when they fly. and the route they use on their first trip south. Every aspect of their experience from hatch to release is controlled to ensure their safety and their wildness.

All of this is in preparation for the one moment when the pen gate is opened and they are finally free. That momentous day in the life cycle of our cranes was Tuesday, December 11. That is when Brooke Pennypacker decided that they had recovered sufficiently from the rigors of their health check and banding and, they no longer held a grudge.

As expected the birds didn’t wander too far off. They flew circles around the pen, but were soon distracted by fiddler crabs and snails and all the stuff you find if you stick your beak in the muck.

Neither our monitoring, nor our concern ends with the opening of the gate however. Brooke and a team of helpers from St Marks and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will check on the birds several times a day. In fact, I imagine they will be there most of their time just watching them slowing acclimate to the wild. In the evenings they will call the birds back into the four acre, open-topped release pen with its ten foot tall fences and electric perimeter wire. The cranes will roost in one of the enclosed ponds, protected from predators while they sleep. In the mornings they will again venture out into the marsh to learn the ways of the wild – but Brooke will be there watching.

Their winter of transition will pass as they slowly undergo their gentle release into the wild. Then one day in the early spring they will take off as they usually do, and climb up high above the marsh.

But that time they won’t come back. They will circle a few times and head north without so much as a thank you or a goodbye… just as it should be.

RELEASE! – Entry 2

“Free at last.  Free at last. Thank God Almighty. We’re free at last.”    ……   Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“If you love somebody…..Set them free”  ……..  Sting (rock group “Police”)

“Open the pen door and let the little buggers out” …….   Brooke

And so it was that Tuesday morning our chicks took yet one more step towards the fulfillment of their destiny when Brenda from Disney and Colleen opened the doors of the top netted pen and the “Fab Five” walked out into their new beginning.

Like sailors blown ashore on a foreign land, they moved at first with uncertainty, taking a step or two then sounding the air for result. Then a few more steps and another measure, until curiosity took charge and released them from their trepidations. Soon, one could detect a strut in each of their steps as they advanced into their new world of freedom, a world they have been waiting their entire lives to enjoy…..sort of.

We accelerated the adjustment process by taking them on the “Out of Towner’s Tour of the pen. First stop, the pond. “Go ahead! Have a drink of good ol’ salt water.” “Sure doesn’t taste like tomato juice!” They huddled at the edge of the pond. “You first!” “No! You go first!” “Hey…why do I always have to be the first one in?” Then a blue crab scuttled past and they were all up to their hocks in POND.

Next we headed over to the first feed shelter where their familiar metal camo painted feeders hung, awaiting them in cold anticipation. But as all experienced whooperites know, “it’s all about the beak” as the chicks tapped, pecked and pounded every inch of the plywood structure as if checking for mines  before ever approaching the feeder filled with crane chow. Later, they pecked at each pellet as if tasting it for the very first time, and the pellets one chick missed bounced down upon the deck only to explode into a small galaxy of dust at the peck of another.

The bubbler was next…or the drinker, or the water bowl…whatever you want to call it. We repositioned it from the top netted pen to out near the main pen door. One grape, accurately tossed splashed a welcome, and soon the chicks were taking turns drinking at their new oasis.

A nearby bucket feeder completed the snack and then it was off to the oyster bar and the decoy standing at its watery end. Schools of bait fish mesmerized the chicks with screen saver-like affect in their shallow world between oyster shell and air. Again, the beaks harpooned the shallows in frustrating attempts at harvest while a pied billed greeb swam away in disgust.  “Who invited these guys anyway?”

Next came the second feed shelter, mirror image of the first, as the beaks hammered out another raucous chorus. Good thing the end of a beak grows back with time or these guys would soon be eating with their eye balls!

As if something very special had somehow been overlooked or forgotten, #4 did what they would all do in time….he flew! Round and round overhead he flew, the circles ever widening until he boomeranged halfway across the marsh before landing outside the pen.  “Oops!” I could hear him say. “Now what do I do?” Ya, now what are you going to do? I wondered.

#11 had the answer as she leaped into the air, flew over #4, and like a magnet sucked him right up into the air beside her as they both arched on a short final into pen. “Sweet!” I heard that little voice in the back of my head exclaim.

Then it was #5’s turn, then #6, and finally #7, as they each did their aerial NASCAR followed by landings of such grace and precision they could qualify as performance art. Two and a half weeks of down time in the pen had not diminished their prowess in the air one little bit.

The tour over, one by one the three “White People” snuck away to the blind, leaving the chicks to revel in their new “digs”….and revel they did. For them, the rest of the day was a never ending procession of one magic trick after another, like turning the pages of a book they just couldn’t put down.

Thought balloons formed and popped like fireworks above their heads as noon turned to afternoon turned to almost dark. Then it was time for the oyster bar shuffle as Brenda and I took up positions on the end of the oyster bar and invited our charges to roost. Out they walked one by one, each settling into the nightly rhythmic ritual of preening.

As darkness faded each of us into shadow, Brenda and I slipped silently off the oyster bar and away to the blind, leaving the chicks to their first night of freedom.

“Little man’s had a busy day” a quiet voice spoke from within. “Are you talking about them or me” I wondered.

“Both”

ON THE ROAD TO FLYING WILD – Entry 1

Last Friday the chicks took their next big step on their road to flying wild and free when they received their health checks and new permanent leg bands. Dr. Scott Terrell and his assistants Arron and Gretchen performed the health exams with the help of Refuge Manager Terry Peacock. Dr. Terrell has been doing these exams on our cranes for many years now, as well as assisting in the winter monitoring, and it was great to see him again.

The banding was done by Eva Szyzkoski from ICF and Sara Zimorski, formerly of ICF and now with the Louisiana Whooping Crane Project. They banded the 14 Louisiana chicks that had just arrived at White Lake from Patuxent earlier in the week, then immediately drove out here to band our birds. If bird banding was an Olympic event, they would definitely have won the gold and their dedication and efforts are greatly appreciated.

Speed and efficiency was the order of the day and the result was 5 healthy and only mildly resentful chicks. Why resentful you might ask? Well, think about it. First we grab them. Then put a hood over their head. Then we carry them to the exam and banding blind, do a blood draw from their neck and a fecal swab from their butt, shine a light down their opened mouth, then hold them as still as possible while the bands are applied to both their legs, then we dump them back into the pen, pull off the hood and yell, “Next?” (kidding)

It’s the closest thing to alien abduction they’re likely to experience, except it’s worse because the aliens are the folks in the white costumes that have been pretending all along to be their best friends. Talk about betrayal. It’s like my friend Broadway Freddie used to say, “Never trust your mother unless your father’s with her!” Bummer!

But tough love can be tough on all concerned and no one involved takes an easy breath until we see each chick walk normally again and spread its wings and flap with correct symmetry and force. Only then do smiles return and a sense of satisfaction reigns over all. But I must confess to having rubbed the fur off of more than one rabbit’s foot in anticipation of this process. Thank heaven we don’t have to band rabbits!

Then before we know it, the drama was over. The vet team packed away all their equipment and folded up their portable exam table. The banding team gathered up all their bits and pieces, folding chairs were stuffed back into their sleeves. Everyone costumed back up, and in single file, silently began the long walk back to the blind, leaving the “Fab Five” in the top netted pen to preen away at their new jewelry and wonder what in the world was this whole experience about anyway. Time will tell.

Editor’s note: CHRISTMAS IS IN THE AIR and we’d like to announce that we’re already accepting gifts. Avoid the holiday rush and the inevitable traffic jams at the chimney and Give a WHOOP! now.

SNAG A BARGAIN!

Take advantage of slashed prices as we offer year-end bargains to make way for different items for OM’s Marketplace for the New Year.

From now and until midnight December 31st, selected t-shirts (limited colors/sizes) are only $5. That’s right! Just $5! Click the link(s) to view or order.
Military Green Tee   Orange Tee   Sand Tee   Give a WHOOP! Tee

Lady’s and Gent’s Windbreakers are going for $15, half the regular price. Ladies Windbreaker   Gent’s Windbreaker.

The perfect stocking stuffer, our exclusive 24K gold-plated PageMarkers regularly sell for $15 each. From now until year end buy one and get TWO FREE.

And there’s more! Your order of any Marketplace items totaling $25 or more (before shipping) will include a bonus of a FREE 2013 Desk Calendar.

Now that’s hard to beat! Don’t delay….place your order before the December 31st deadline – or better yet, right NOW!

HEALTH CHECKS AND BANDING COMPLETE

From Brooke Pennypacker, OM’s Winter Monitor of the Class of 2012 at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, we learned that the juveniles received their health checks and leg bands on Friday, December 7th.

The health checks were performed by Dr. Scott Terrell, Veterinary Pathologist and Operations Manager, and his team from Walt Disney World Animal Programs. The cranes’ new color-coded I.D. leg bands were affixed by ICF’s Eva Szyzkoski and Sara Zimorksi with the Louisiana Whooping crane project.

Brooke reported that the entire process was, “fast and efficient and all the birds came through it with flying colors.”

In addition to the photos below sent to us by Brooke, he promised to provide a more detailed update for posting here in the near future.

(Note: The cranes are ‘captured’ one at a time and hooded to prevent sight and to keep them calm. This also allows handlers to work without a costume and more importantly, head gear, so their vision is unimpeded. The health checks and banding process is conducted entirely out of sight of the rest of the cranes. Visual barriers are employed to ensure the other birds catch no glimpse of humans or the activity. The camo panels you see in the photo below are carried on OM’s travel pen trailers and are also used as required during the migration.)

Heath and banding teams at work.

St. Marks Refuge Manager, Terry Peacock (left) assists the Disney vets.