Make a Reservation in the Viewing Blind!

We would like to invite everyone to come out to the viewing blind at the White River Marsh training site. Plan your visit to the Operation Migration Whooping Crane Blind to witness flight training of the young Whooping Cranes, to hear the sounds and to see them fly with the aircraft.

It’s an awesome experience to see them grow from these young colts to beautiful young Whooping cranes. And you might just see one (or TWO) adult Whoopers while you’re there!

To arrange to participate in a blind tour, please contact Doug Pellerin at pelican0711(AT)gmail.com or call 920-923-0016.

Craniac Ruth Peterson visited the blind last weekend and sent us the following photos to share with you. Thanks Ruth!

(Click each image to enlarge)

Ruth was one of the very lucky ones that got to see the Class of 2014 follow Joe Duff for any distance.

Ruth was one of the very lucky ones that got to see the Class of 2014 follow Joe Duff for any distance.

whooping crane and Sandhill crane

And during training look who showed up… Adult Whooping crane number 5-12 and two Sandhill cranes.

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The Rules of Nature

I am too old to recall the details of my first bicycle ride but I do remember a new sense of adventure as my horizons suddenly expanded beyond the limits of our yard. I do remember what it was like when I bought my first car and the memory of my first solo flight is still vivid. Yet I am certain that excitement can’t even be close to what it must be like when our birds finally realize what their wings are for. They have reached that fleeting stage in their short lives when they are on the cusp of learning to fly. They grow stronger each day and for a brief time Saturday one was surfing on the wing of the aircraft.

The problem is that the endurance is limited to a minute or two of sustained flight. We take off and immediately reduce our speed so the aircraft is barely hanging in the air. We made a steady turn, heading back to the runway in hopes they can catch us and pick up some free lift before they land back on the grass.

Lately that turn had been interrupted by a few trees that force us to climb higher and faster than the birds can manage. So on Sunday, I pulled on my costume, grabbed a saw and headed out to the pen site.

I hate to cut down trees. They took an epoch to evolve and years to grow and I cut them down in only a few minutes. It hardly seems fair, like sacrificing one species for another; still there are lots of trees here and only a few Whooping cranes. To be honest the trees don’t threaten the Whooping cranes but they are a real danger to the aircraft and its occupant; especially when you are too low and too slow and spending most of your time looking backward.

Maybe I can justify it by saying that we are simply playing by one of the rules of nature. Kill or be killed.

Training Recap

What a difference a week makes!

A week ago the theme of the training updates was Whooping crane number 10 and how many times she didn’t come out of the pen, and when she was finally coerced out – how many times – and for how long, she would head into the marsh. This even prompted the CraneCam chatters to nickname the poor girl ‘Marsha.’

Fast forward to Thursday, Friday, and over this weekend and she’s an entirely different crane. She comes out of the pen – albeit fashionably late – and then proceeds to follow the small aircraft as it fires down the training strip and into the air… Yes! I said AIR! Almost two full minutes of AIR!

She and her six flockmates are all now flying – and what a pretty site it is. Take a look at this video clip from Saturday as Joe trained with them.

Here are some photo highlights from Doug and Mako Pellerin!

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Killing time waiting for fog to clear.

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WHOOP! They’re FLYING!

This morning’s training session was the BEST yet this year!

All seven young Whooping cranes exited their enclosure and all seven took off with the aircraft! A number of them even managed to fly a circuit, following Joe Duff around the training area.

Take a look at the image below, captured by volunteer Doug Pellerin as the flyers returned to the runway. (Be sure to click the image for a larger view). Perhaps, if you are as excited as we are to see this total transformation of the Class of 2014 you’ll consider Giving A $10 WHOOP to celebrate!?

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This morning Doug Pellerin surprised the CraneCam viewers with this sign.

whooping cranes follow ultralight-aircraft

Five of the young Whooping cranes following Joe Duff in flight this morning.

Whose Harem is this Anyway?

If you spend much time watching the CraneCam, you’ve no doubt seen Mr. Handsome on the scene. No, not Joe Duff, I’m talking about #5-12. This now 2-yr old Whooping crane usually shows up in the morning to observe training, and then may or may not make appearances during the day. And often we’re treated to an evening visit as well.

When he stands on the path, calmly watching the runway action, sometimes I think he’s pining for his childhood and all the happy-flappy fun he had running up and down the runway in 2012. So far this year he hasn’t been disruptive to training – I guess he learned his lesson last year when and he and #4-12 had to be run off the runway with nerf balls!

The truth is he’s a typical guy and he’s there to check out all the girl-birds in this year’s cohort. A couple of times I even heard him wolf-whistle at Marsha (#10-14) when she strolled around the marsh! Of course she ignored him, much as she ignores the pilots when she is engrossed in catching grasshoppers and other marshy stuff.

So Wednesday evening, when Geoff arrived to do the roost check, I was watching the video stream and musing about which of this year’s six girl crane chicks #5-12 would select. Will she like him in return? Will she feel like she already knows him from all his hanging out at the pen??

As I was pondering these oh-so-important questions, Geoff started a slow stroll around the wet pen and all seven chicks were just about glued to his costume! All the way around, they just stuck close by him like he was the latest American Idol and they were his teeny bopper groupies!

Geoff then meandered outside the pen to (I presume) check the hotwire. As he walked the perimeter, the chicks continued to follow him attentively. At one point he stopped to (I presume) pull some tall grass from the hotwire and all seven chicks also stopped to (I presume) supervise…

Supervisors

Then they clearly decided he needed help…

Supervisors 2

Well, my final thought before falling asleep last night was that #5-12 doesn’t stand a chance with these chicks! This is obviously Geoff’s Whooping crane harem!

Almost Fledged

Most people who follow this project think that flying with the birds must be the greatest part of the job. There is no question that the view from the front seat of our aircraft is like nothing else but often we are preoccupied with the mechanics of flying. Our attention is divided between the birds and keeping the aircraft above the critical stall speed. But there is another stage in the training of the birds that is just as interesting, but less demanding.

Right around 80 days of age the birds fledge. That transition is a gradual change from running behind us while extending their immature wings, to making elongated steps as their flapping begins to carry some of their weight. We lead this daily exercise by charging down the runway in what we call high speed taxi training. This phase is a good opportunity to watch the birds in flight mode without having to worry about keeping ourselves alive.

For a while number 10-14 was having problems. When the aircraft arrived for early training she would not come out of the pen.  The others would charge out onto the runway eager to follow, while she stayed behind. It is hard to understand what causes that behaviour but it’s not uncommon. In every cohort we have a bird or two that is reluctant to come out. Despite this regular occurrence, we have never been able to figure out exactly why. Some lesson we inadvertently taught or maybe even something that happened when we were not there starts the problem. And each time they miss a lesson, that bad habit is reinforced.

When the gates are opened, most of the birds charge onto the runway. The ground crew will spend a minute or two encouraging the nervous ones to come out but if that takes too long, they close the gates so the training can begin. While the others are getting their exercise, the handlers will coax and cajole the reluctant bird to the front of the pen and then slip him out onto the runway. That extra attention, no matter how gently it is applied, can be enough to make the arrival of the aircraft a fearful event for a wary bird.

A week ago Richard and Geoff spent some time leading the birds in and out of the pen. They did it enough times without the aircraft and the excitement of flying, for it to lose it mystery. During one of the training sessions this week, Brooke took some extra time to train number 10 alone. He led her up and down the runway and fed her grapes as a reward. That extra effort seemed to help.

I trained the birds for two days thereafter and number 10 came out of the pen with the others. She is the youngest, so she can’t yet fly the length of the runway. Her wings are carrying part of the load but she still has to run to keep up. After two or three trips back and forth she lets her wings droop slightly so you can see the black primaries even when they are folded. That is an indication that she is tired but still she follows loyally.

On day two of the training, I took off in hopes of leading at least some of them into the air. However, a few are still too immature to make a complete circuit. Number 7 flew past the end of the runway trying desperately to catch the trike but her stamina gave out and she landed in the tall grass. However, she immediately began making her way back onto the runway through reeds that are over her head.  Only four of the birds were able to actually fly back to the runway but the others gathered one-by-one as they manoeuvred through the brush.

Yesterday, Brooke trained the birds again and all seven came out of the pen together. They all followed him like we knew what we were doing. In the end, we don’t really know what caused number 10 to be wary of training or what portion of the cure we applied actually worked. But it is good to see her right beside the aircraft and we charge down the runway.

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Chip In Winner!

Here’s a FUN way to support whooping cranes! 

Purchase a 2014 Whooping crane Chip from our Marketplace for $20. Each Chip is individually numbered and contains an alpha/numeric code.

As soon as you receive your Chip in the mail, visit www.coinlogin.org to register your name and email, along with your Chip number and code.

Over the next few months, we’ll be holding random draws for some fun items so keep an eye on your inbox.

Once all the Chips are gone, we’ll hold FOUR additional draws:

  • Two for CITGO gas cards, valued at $100 each.
  • $500 CASH
  • A flight back seat with our CEO, Joe Duff as pilot, while he flies in the chase position with the Class of 2014 Whooping cranes!

There are only 1000 Chips available, so be sure to order yours soon so you don’t miss out!

CHIP_IN

Get YOUR Chip Now!

When we launched this campaign last week, we mentioned we would hold random prize draws throughout the campaign, until all of the Chips are sold.

Last evening we selected a number from the 67 Chips, which have been registered thus far and the winning chip is number 970 - Registered to: Bev Birks. Bev will receive an OM prize pack in the mail shortly. The prize pack includes all of the items pictured below. Congratulations Bev!

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Trip of a LIFETIME!

If you are up for a unique adventure, join OM Director Walter Sturgeon, a crane expert in his own right, and zoologist Dave Davenport, President of EcoQuest Travel, as they lead an exciting 15 day birdwatching trip to Japan in December. This exciting trip includes stops in Hokkaido – known for its wilderness areas and famous for its population of red-crowned cranes. The red-crowned (also known as Japanese crane) is the largest of the crane species found in Japan and one of the rarest on earth.

Travelers will have the opportunity to view a diversity of cranes, waterfowl and even Snow monkeys!. Click to view trip details and a description of the itinerary. The group size for this exclusive tour will consist of a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 14 and currently 9 people have registered for this incredible trip.

EcoQuest Travel is proud to offer an incredible bird watching journey to the extraordinary country of Japan. From the crowded bustle of Tokyo and the glitter of skyscrapers to the still forests of Hokkaido and the quiet reverence of ancient temples, Japan is a land of contrasts. The Land of the Rising Sun is known more for its cultural riches, but the birdlife of Japan is rich and varied. We have chosen to travel in December to take advantage of the abundance and diversity of cranes and waterfowl in particular.

Our visit will include three of Japan’s main islands: Honshu, Hokkaido and Kyushu. We begin in the far north in a land blanketed by snow and chilled by Siberian winds. Hokkaido is a breathtakingly beautiful place and this is punctuated all the more by the sight of red-crowned cranes dancing against a backdrop of snow and green conifers.

Photograph © Kimimasa Mayama/EPA

Photograph © Kimimasa Mayama/EPA

No less spectacular is the huge gatherings of Steller’s sea-eagles; large rafts of harlequin ducks, scoters and alcids; and a chance to observe the rarely seen Blakiston’s fish-owl hunting.

From the cold expanses of Hokkaido we journey far to the south to the rice paddies and wetlands of Kyushu. The marshes of Arasaki are famous for their flocks of wintering cranes. Thousands of hooded and white-naped cranes are often joined by Eurasian, sandhill and sometimes even demoiselle and Siberian cranes. Ducks, cormorants, gulls and other water birds are also abundant, and along with the bugling cranes, add to the cacophony. From the south we will return to Honshu and travel up into the Japanese Alps to witness snow monkeys soaking winter’s chill away in the hot springs. The opportunity for dramatic photographs of the monkeys with snow and ice upon their fur is not to be missed.

We invite you to join us as we explore the fantastic birdlife, natural wonders, cultural sites and magic that is Japan.

Please contact Walter Sturgeon: sturgeon2@embarqmail.com or Dave Davenport: ddavenport@earthlink.net

Training Update

Yesterday morning’s training session was one of the most uplifting I’ve seen in a long time. Those of you who have been watching the CraneCam are no stranger to the uphill battle that has been getting chick 10-14 out to training. Number 8-14 hasn’t been a picnic either but ever since the new old trike came back, she’s been more eager to step out the gate. Too bad 10-14 hasn’t shared her enthusiasm. Locking her in the dry pen helps a little, but all it does is keep her from retreating into the wetpen. It does nothing to get her pumped for training. You can throw her grapes, do a little dance with the puppet, but she won’t leave the pen for all of King Midas’s gold. I always hoped that once she started flying, she’d change her tune.

Saturday, she seemed to be at an all-time low. Normally, she’d come to the door if you came in the pen. It gave us enough time to slip into the wet pen and close the door behind us in just a second’s time. But that day, she was the only bird who wouldn’t leave the dry pen. Giving her grapes did no good; she just took them back to the pond to wash them off. Doug told me that they heard some coyotes howling just before training and that could have been what spooked her.

Either way, we had to leave her in the wetpen by the time Brooke arrived. Halfway through training, Brooke was able to get her out. But it wasn’t three seconds before she ran out behind the fence and hid behind the wetpen. She spent most of training behind the pen, so Brooke had to train her separately, after the other birds were put away.  By then, I was starting to run out of ideas what we can do with her.  No sooner did Brooke start going up and down the runway, did she fly after the trike. It was only for fifty or so feet but it was the moment I was hoping for. The moment when she figured out what those two big wads of feathers on both sides of her shoulders were for.  As we put her back in, I was hopeful that she’d be eager to try them out again.

Yesterday morning was Joe’s first time to train the birds. Tom and I went in before he arrived to lock the birds in the dry pen, like we always do. Imagine my surprise when 10-14 was one of the first birds into the dry pen. A good sign, right? Well, when we threw open the doors for training, who should come out but our free-spirited little loafer 10-14!

Joe's first day of training the Class of 2014 Whooping cranes.

Joe’s first day of training the Class of 2014 Whooping cranes.

Once she was out the door, she stayed with the trike from start to finish. Well, almost finish – she tried taking off with the trike as it was flying circuits but got tired and landed behind the dry pen but that’s no big deal. The important thing is that she tried. And she flew!

I hope we can expect more of this 10-14 in the future. Now that she’s flying, she’s got every reason to be excited for training. Even if she still gets stuck behind the wetpen at least she’s putting in an honest effort, which is all we ask of her. The rest will come later… Just you wait, she’ll be flying laps around the pen in no time.

Whoopers 2014 8-3 Joe on runway4_1

View from the cockpit as three of the young cranes follow Joe.

View from the cockpit as three of the young cranes follow Joe.

Make Your Reservations for the Crane Festival!

Make plans to join us for the 2014 Whooping Crane Festival in Princeton, Wisconsin September 12 – 14th. An entire weekend dedicated to Whooping cranes!

Join us Friday evening at the Mascoutin Golf Club just south of Berlin, WI for a fun evening of good food and a live and silent auction. Our after dinner speaker will be Mr. Stanley Temple, Senior Fellow and Science Advisor with the Aldo Leopold Foundation. His talk marks the centennial of the extinction of the passenger pigeon in 1914. Temple uses the case of the passenger pigeon to call attention to the world’s ongoing extinction crisis and our relationship with other species.

Whooping crane festival

2014 marks the 4th year for this festival, which started small but has grown steadily. In fact, we have outgrown the former location and this year, Saturday’s Festival will be held at the Princeton Public School, in nearby Princeton, Wisconsin. Saturday morning kicks off bright and early and everyone is invited to watch the Class of 2014 go through their paces as they fly behind our aircraft, in preparation for their first ever southward migration. (weather permitting).

The Green Lake Rotary Club and the high school food services class will be flipping pancakes and serving up breakfast following flight training so be sure to head to the Princeton School grounds for a hearty breakfast. Afterwards, browse the vendor booths, bid on the great silent auction items available, attend one or all of the speaker sessions to learn more about whooping cranes in Wisconsin or birds of Costa Rica!

Kids can take part in whooping crane related arts and crafts, listen to live music throughout the day, and visit the education tent. There is something for everyone and it’s all in support of Operation Migration’s efforts to safeguard this incredible crane. Admission to Saturday’s day-long festival is free. There are many other events taking place over the weekend so be sure to register early for those as space for some, is limited.

To learn more visit the festival page.  We hope to see you there!

Vendors & Exhibitors! If you would like to participate in the 2014 Whooping Crane Festival Sept. 13th, please contact Jana Lood: jlood(AT)sbcglobal.net

Training Update

As Geoff mentioned on Monday, chicks 8-14 & 10-14 have been reluctant to exit the pen each morning. The past couple of days, however, I’ve seen an improvement. This morning six of the young cranes came pouring out, while number 10 held back. She eventually sashayed up to the feed station and decided now would be a good time for a quick bite of breakfast. Between nibbles, you could see her craning her neck (ha!) to see the trike waiting outside but no way would she head out on her own.

Brooke began taxiing to the north end of the grass strip with the six cranes trailing behind in a flurry of wings and legs. It would seem most are now flying in what we call ‘ground effect’ flight. Once at the far end he left the engine running while he climbed out and began passing out the grapes – a reward for a job well done.

Shortly after, we noticed number 10-14 sauntering toward him and her flockmates. Seems Geoff and Tom had managed to convince her that it was more fun outside the pen.

About halfway to the trike I think she spied the grapes and flap-ran the rest of the way to get her share of the treats. Maybe she just likes being fashionably late?

Training proceeded with a couple of forays into the tall grass by a couple of the crane-kids but they always came back to the runway once the aircraft began heading the other way. All in all a definite improvement.

Here are some images that Tom Schultz captured from inside the enclosure to share with you.

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Seems the cranes are all wings now as they head off in pursuit of the aircraft. Tom managed to capture all seven crane chicks flapping behind Brooke.

whooping cranes with ultralight aircraft

More grapes are handed out to reward the birds for a great training session.

MileMakers NEEDED!

MileMaker

It’s been 3 weeks since the Whooping cranes in the Class of 2014 arrived at their summer training site on White River Marsh in Green Lake County, Wisconsin. Training is going great – for the majority of the cohort. Crane chicks 8-14 & 10-14 are doing their best to keep the pilots on their toes.

In just 8 weeks (yikes!) we anticipate they’ll be ready for their first-ever southward migration – following our small aircraft for more than 1200 miles and crossing 7 states. While they may be ready – we’re not. We still need to ensure we have the funding in place to cover their journey.

Each year we launch the MileMaker fundraising campaign – This very important campaign raises the funds necessary to carry out the 1200-mile aircraft-guided Whooping crane migration from Wisconsin to Florida each fall.

The way it works is quite simple — We have determined that each mile of the 1200-mile southward migration has a cost of $200 associated with it. This covers insurance, fuel and maintenance costs for the ground vehicles and aircraft, food for the cranes and the crew, any repairs or maintenance required for the crane enclosures, etc.

Right now we have TWO MileMaker challenges available to take advantage of! Babs has offered to DOUBLE THE NEXT 5 MILES THAT COME IN, and Sue has agreed to MATCH 3 MILES! That’s a total of 8 miles that will be DOUBLED – making it 16 miles!

By far, the MileMaker Campaign funds the largest portion of our annual budget and is critical to the success of our annual Whooping crane migration.

Currently, only 261 miles of the 1200 mile trek are sponsored, which is enough to get them to Illinois – so we have a long way to go. Please consider becoming a MileMaker sponsor and help us help the Class of 2014.

You have the choice of sponsoring a full mile ($200), a half mile ($100) or even a quarter mile ($50). In addition to helping these young Whooping cranes, your name will be entered into a draw for an incredible thank you gift, which will be held at the end of the campaign on December 31st or when all 1200 miles are sponsored. If your name is drawn you will receive a two-week stay at a private home in beautiful Costa Rica!

Sponsor a full mile and you get four entries into the Costa Rica trip – sponsor a half mile and you get two – and quarter mile sponsors receive one entry into the draw.

We’ll also list your support on the MileMaker recognition page so everyone will see that YOU CARE about a future with Whooping cranes.

As an added bonus, all MileMaker supporters will receive a secret link to a selection of monthly E-calendar images for your PC desktop. Download all of the images at once, or return each month for your new photo! Here are a couple of the monthly calendar images:

Aug14_th Sept14_th February 2015

 Will you help?

Training Strip Makeover

Occasionally the grass training strip adjacent the crane enclosure at White River Marsh must be mowed… because, well, grass. grows. How fast it grows changes from year-to-year just as the weather does. During the 2013 season we mowed it once at the beginning of the season and as it was a very dry year, once more on August 13th.

This year Caleb mowed it during the last week of June and here we are a month later and yesterday was mowing day. It’s been a wet year.

Mowing the runway sounds easy enough but when you’re raising cranes and trying to keep them from all things human, it gets a bit more complicated. The cranes must be led away from ‘home’ on a short field trip, which actually leads them to a secluded pond out of sight and earshot of the noisy mower.

Brooke and Geoff opened the gates and all seven youngsters readily followed them to the north end of the site before they disappeared behind some trees and over a small rise. They got the fun task.

Tom Schultz drew the short straw and after texting me to see if the coast was clear, he hopped on the mower, which was hidden behind the viewing blind and proceeded to do laps around the grass strip until 80 minutes later when he mowed the last blade of grass.

Once he was finished he hid inside the blind and texted Geoff that all was clear and they could begin the long walk back to the pen. As Brooke and Geoff led them home, Tom captured a few photos for us.

Math Question: (because I hated these types of math questions as a kid and here’s my chance to get some revenge)

Tommy started mowing at 7:25 and finished at 8:45. He completed 11 laps and each lap is 550 yards. How many miles per hour, was Tommy’s mower mowing? (leave your answer in the comments below this post)

Whoopers 7-28-14

Whoopers 7-28-14 Whoopers 7-28-14

Whoopers 7-28-14

 

Programs Tomorrow at Ripon Library

If you’re in the Ripon area why not attend one of tomorrow’s programs about the Whooping crane?

The Ripon Public Library is located at 120 Jefferson Street in Ripon, Wisconsin. Bob and Mary Vethe will be presenting a program geared toward the little ones at 3:30pm and then Joe Duff will be giving a presentation for teens and adults beginning at 6pm.

We hope you can make it!

Where Are My Pants?

Howdy folks!  It’s been a while since I’ve checked in with you all.  My last recollection of my previous update was back in Patuxent.  Seeing as we’re in White River Marsh, dealing with young Whooping cranes that are so close to flying they can taste it, that might as well be a million years ago.  So where are we now?

Our birds are nice and comfy here and White River Marsh. Our pen’s still in tip-top shape. Our wetpen is still nice and wet. I haven’t had to fire up the pump to maintain the water level once this season.  I imagine that day will come soon.  But not today, and probably not next week.  Runway could use a little mowing.  But we’ll get to that.

But how are the birds holding up? To be honest, I could wish they were a little more enthusiastic about training. The birds are pretty slow coming out of the pen, and we’ve got two birds, 8-14 and 10-14 that won’t come out even if you give them a million dollars. That isn’t to say they haven’t been out for training since they’ve arrived. But RIchard has to lead them out, first. Add to that, it’s not uncommon to see them wander off the runway away from the trike. Last Thursday when we trained, they were halfway down the path leading to the pond where we’re going to take the birds when we mow the runway. Richard and I agree, we’ve never seen birds this uninterested in the trike. At least not since 2011.

The funny thing is, they come to the costume just fine. When I come into the pen every evening at roost checks, all I have to do is stand at the gate, and all the birds will start heading towards me, including our two delinquents. We’ve tried lots of tricks to get them interested in the trike. We’ve had all the costumes sit by the trike once the doors were opened and just wait for all the birds to come out.  it worked for the first few training sessions. But after the third or fourth day, that’s when they started losing interest. We’ve tried leading them out of the pen during training, locking them in the dry pen before training, standing in the doorway and just wait for the birds to come to us, like we were doing roost checks. The last one was particularly enlightening, as 8-14 and 10-14 were right in the dry pen, ready to say hi to us. But as soon as we opened the door and they saw the trike, they stopped dead in their tracks.

Now, those two have seen the trike just as much as any other bird back in Patuxent. But the X variable in all of this is that this is the new trike we’re using, which they weren’t exposed to back in Patuxent. But to be fair, they do eventually start following the trike after the first five or ten minutes they’re out the gate and then they follow okay, at least. But still, every morning it’s like they’ve seen the trike for the first time.

However, I’m sure this is just a phase. New trike or no, we always have birds that don’t like to come out for training for the first few weeks. They don’t always take this long to come around, nor or they this uninterested but as soon as they start flying, they’ll have a new outlook on life. Just ask 2-14 and 3-14. They’re already flying in ground effect after the trike, at least for a few seconds the last few training sessions. It won’t be long before 4-14,  7-14 and 9-14 start catching on, as well. And I think we can expect the same thing from 8-14 and 10-14. As long as we can keep getting them out, they’ll figure it out, eventually. It’s the moment they never knew they were looking forward to and it’s the moment we all wait for. The moment when these birds start flying with the trike. Because that’s when the game starts to change and it’s coming sooner rather than later.

Now, there’s been a lot of buzz about me going to see the birds with no pants on. Shoot, I’ve been leaving my pants on the runway right in front of our loyal CraneCam audience. For a while, I didn’t think that got on camera since I was expecting my phone to be buzzing with texts. But to answer everyone’s question about that, both times that happened, I needed to get into the wetpen to stand up a few t-posts that fell over but the wetpen is still fairly deep and I didn’t want to get my pants wet. Both times, I had plans to go jogging, and I didn’t want to do it in wet pants. Especially since I’ve been jogging right after I get done with roost checks.

But there you have it. Nothing kinky. Just a newfound sense of expediency. Enjoy it while you can, because once the water level goes down, I won’t have to strip down to get into the wetpen. But next time I go in there and see a t-post knocked over, I’m going to assume one of you did it.

This update is brought to you by your favorite sitcom and mine:  Where are My Pants?