One Peck at a Time

“Come on!  Can’t we talk around the chicks just this once? I mean, nobody but us will ever know and besides, the chicks are on the other side of the pen and they probably won’t understand what we’re saying even if they do hear us.

#5-12 continued to walk beside me pretending he didn’t hear, preferring instead to continue his efforts mine sweeping the marsh for its incredible edibles.

“Ok, ok. Have it your way. Tell you what. We’ll do it the scientific way. I’ll ask you the questions and you answer just by poking your beak into the ground once for yes, twice for no. What do you say?”

5-12 beaked the ground and pulled out a periwinkle which he swallowed with a quick lifting jerk of his head.

“Good start” I replied. “Now tell me all about Monday’s aborted migration attempt. You guys really had me going, ya know. I mean, you were making all the right moves; the three short morning flights in a row… something you’ve never done before. Usually, it’s the other four that fly while you and #8-14 just hang in the pen.  But this time you two actually went along on all three flights and you were vocalizing just as loudly as everyone else.  And the bunching up. Usually it’s #3,4,9,10 in one area and you and #8 in another. That morning you all hung together. What changed?”

#5-12 found a fiddler crab and hammered at it three times.

“I didn’t quite hear you on that one but let’s move on.  Next thing I know, you all launched into a thermally blue bird sky and began the classic first time skyward swirl, higher and higher as your raucous vocalizing blanketed the landscape below with sound. The event had all the exhilarating energy of a NASA rocket launch and my heart about jumped out of my chest. Soon, you were all reduced to a pinwheel of tiny specks against the sky. That’s when you and #8 broke out and headed north.  I raced down the path towards the parking lot trying to keep you in sight as you hopscotched across the tiny patches of blue showing through the tree canopy. That’s when I saw the kettling of white pelicans also in full migration mode. Did you join up with them for a while?”

#5-12 stopped for a moment, his eyes peering laser-like at the mud.

“I ran back to the blind to get a visual on the other four when I noticed one chick circling lower than the others with his gear partially extended. Then ever so slowly the circle began its excruciatingly long decent down, down and downer until all four chicks landed back into the pen. It was dear old Peanut who led them down. “Bummer!”  Still, as expected, you left with #8 and I would have bet my puppet head and vocalizer that you were both seriously gone.  I even made a few calls announcing your departure.  My first was to Colleen. She’s been spending every morning for the past week or so sitting in the tracking van in a parking lot north of Tallahassee awaiting my “birds have left’ call. … so many days, in fact, that she is now on a first name basis with every proprietor of every nearby store with a Ladies Room. The local Sheriff has even entered her information into the Police Data Base and awarded her a  contract chasing convicted felons wearing ankle bracelets who violated their parole. She’s also become the toast of the local truckers who stop by constantly calling her names like “Butter Cup” and “Wild Thing” and propositioning her with a better life which includes a glass of water on the bathroom shelf big enough to hold two pairs of teeth.”

#5-12 continues his probing as if not hearing a word I’m saying.

“Then, after almost an hour, something catches the upper left hand corner of my eye – that area where the shimmering starts when I bang my head on something…. and here comes you and #8, parachuting down almost vertically from the heavens to a perfect two point landing in the pen! Now, I get that the skies to the north were beginning to darken ugly and the cloud cover was thickening big time with thunderstorms predicted just beyond. Such conditions are the reason God created the 180 degree turn. But what were you thinking?  What was it like? And why did you return to the pen?  Are you really that lonesome for the other chicks or do you have some greater master plan in mind?”

5-12 jackhammered the mud a few times, then headed off in the direction of the feeder.

“What we have here is a failure to communicate,” I shrugged, quoting Struther Martin, the prison warden in the movie “Cool Hand Luke” then added with more than a little sarcasm, “Thanks anyway for your time.  It’s been a most enlightening conversation.”

#5-12 came to an immediate stop and slowly turned, his gaze considering me for a long moment. Then, he spoke to me with the clearest of Jersey Shore accents, “Forget about it, Big Daddy. Rules is rules.”

Post Script:

I no more than finished hammering out this little update in the blind than I heard 5-12 start calling for a flight. It was after noon time, usually a little late for a launch.  But the thick overcast was slowly giving way in at least one quarter of sky to the hint of baby blue and the southeast wind, so long dormant, started to freshen.  Still, with a dense dark wall of cloud bank sitting firmly just north, migration conditions were far from ideal. Yet the chicks suddenly became energized and responded with two quick flights followed by one of slightly longer duration. Each flight terminated back in the pen for everyone but #5-12.  He decided to keep flying, first heading far south, then spiraling higher and higher before heading north.  Soon he was a speck against the gray, then gone.

I ran down the path to the parking lot, tracking receiver and antenna in hand, listening as the beeps diminished in volume. That’s him…  Gone!  But soon the trend reversed and the beeps slowly crept louder and louder until I knew he was on his way back!  I ran back to the blind and arrived just in time to hear the chicks begin calling as they strained their necks skyward.  Then down he came, wings and legs fully extended and locked until he touched down ever so lightly in the pen. He’d been aloft for 43 minutes exactly.

Hard to say what this all means. Scientifically speaking, probably a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  But such is the way we learn about whooping cranes… one peck at a time.

Bird Migration – Did You Know?

Before 1822 when this White Stork was discovered in Germany, people didn’t really understand what happened to birds in winter – Just that each winter the birds would leave.

This stork had flown all the way to Germany with an arrow in its neck! The arrow was traced to central Africa and this is how bird migration was understood.

Before that some people thought Barn Swallows turned into mice, or birds flew to the moon or other crazy things!

To this day, 25 ‘Pfeilstorch’ have been found (German for “arrow stork”).

arrow_stork

Photo: Ragnar Kinzelbach Source: http://www.springalive.net/

Costumes – More Than Just a Fashion Statement!

Guest Author – Mary O’Brien – Costume maker extraordinaire!

Making the new batch of costumes (“tumes”) each year is one of my favorite rites of spring. This year it’s even cooler because I’ve just passed the 100 mark and have now made as many tumes as there are cranes in the eastern migratory population! To celebrate this milestone, I thought it would be fun to highlight the important role the tumes play in the migration odyssey as illustrated by some of my favorite images from past journal entries.

Like school uniforms, the tumes are the glue that binds the OM team together. Once you figure out how to pull your entire self into the darned things, you are immediately transformed with a new and daunting sense of pride, kinship and responsibility. Everyone who works with the cranes gets to wear an awesome tume and experience this transformation.

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The tumes are definitely famous, once donned by Jane Goodall and also residing in permanent displays at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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They are Crane Mama’s nightgown that the cranes cling to from an early age and that sustains their trust during the migration.

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The cranes dutifully follow the planes (well most of the time) knowing that a tume will pop out at the end of the trip with treats.

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The tumes are magnets for outreach activities. Really, what kid can resist a huge white Teletubbie with an adorable crane puppet?

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Perhaps most important, the tumes hide the identities and red faces of certain clumsy people who insist on getting them dirty!

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Finally, here are a few fun facts about making the costumes:

  • It takes about 3 yards of fabric for each tume. My favorite local fabric store special orders the sheeting each spring and gives me a discount because they appreciate what it’s being used for; crane karma at its best!
  • Each has about 58 feet of seams; all are folded and double sewn like blue jean seams so there are no raw edges.
  • Each has about 8,304 feet or 1.6 miles of individual stitches.
  • Each takes about 3 hours to make including cutting and sewing.
  • Some tailoring is involved to account for height and size differences, but the general costume is uniformly shapeless.
  • Brooke gets special treatment because he spends so much time with the cranes.  I make an extra light-weight costume for him to use at Patuxent where it’s very hot during the circle pen training.

Report Your Whooping Crane Sightings

WCEP_report_button_smallWe’ve been receiving a good number of public sightings over the past couple of weeks as introduced Whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) advance northward and return to their summer habitats. If you happen to spot a Whooping crane please use this link to report your sighting.

We thought it a good time to remind everyone of the recommended guidelines should you be fortunate enough to encounter a Whooping crane.

  • To protect these Whooping cranes we will not divulge the exact location of the sighting.
  • We ask that you please do not approach them closely, even in a vehicle, to avoid habituating the birds to human presence. Habituation is one of the greatest dangers that whooping cranes face because it puts them at greater risk from vehicle collisions, predation, and illegal shooting.
  • Please be respectful of the property of others and do not trespass.

The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership encourages birding listserv administrators and managers of social media page(s) to not release exact location information of Whooping cranes in the Eastern flyway. In an effort to protect these young and impressionable cranes, WCEP releases county level location information only.

American Birding Association Principles of Birding Ethics

One Home – Five to go

As many of you know, we have been on pins and needles most of the winter wondering if our birds will make it back on their own. Last fall the early onset of winter gave us a record string of poor flying days. In fact, I think we had been on the road for 35 days and only covered 52 miles and even portions of that pitiful showing, required crating some of the birds.

With conditions predicted to get worse, we transported the birds to the half way point in Tennessee creating an unprecedented gap in their knowledge of the migration route. Ever since we, and many others have been wondering what will happen this spring—and we are about to find out. Based on behavior, weather predictions and years of experience, Brooke feels that the birds will leave very soon.

In preparation, we developed a tracking plan. The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership no longer has the ability to track the birds on their first northern migration so we agreed to set up a team with all the necessary equipment and vehicles to follow them. Five of the 7 birds were fitted with PTT transmitters so they can be tracked remotely while numbers 9-14 (female) and 4-14 (male) can only be tracked a short distance using their VHF transmitters. So the tracking priority will be those two birds whose location we must be on the scene to determine. And of the two, the priority is on the female because we have more males in the population and we need to balance that out as best we can.

As you all know, we lost 2-14 to a predator recently, leaving us with six juveniles at St. Marks until number 7-14 left in the company of 4-12 and 4-13 that had also spent the winter at St. Marks. To encourage a connection between the birds that don’t know the way home and two that do, Brooke has been allowing them access to the pen and trying to build that relationship. We were all hoping that they would all leave together and be guided north by the experienced birds but instead, five birds stayed behind and only number 7-14 left with them.

They took their time on the migration but have now officially made it back to White River Marsh and are in Marquette County, Wisconsin. Volunteer, Doug Pellerin used a receiver to confirm they were deep in a wetland complex but he could not get close enough to actually see them. Hopefully they will drop onto the runway near the pen in the next day or so, just the way the class of 2013 did last spring.

While I was writing this update, Brooke called to say number 8-14 (also wearing a PTT) had left with number 5-12 which is the other older bird that wintered at St. Marks. It seems the weather was perfect over the pensite and all the birds began to soar until they were just specks overhead in the blue sky. Four of them drifted back down while two disappeared to the north. Volunteer, Colleen Chase was pre-positioned to the north ready to intercept them but Brooke called back later to say the two were back. He could see dark clouds forming to the north and thinks that maybe they returned to try another day.

Number 8-14 and 5-12 have been close all winter and since numbers 4-12 and 4-13 left, this mature bird has been interacting more with all the chicks. Maybe he somehow knows they need help getting home and turned around to give them one more chance. I know that’s anthropomorphizing but we turned back a hundred times trying to get them south. In fact we did the same thing for him and his 2012 flockmates.

I like to think he‘s returning the favor.

Holding My Breath

When I was a kid, I thought there were only two times when you held your breath – when you stuck your head under water and when you asked that special someone out on a first date. That was until I started working with cranes. Then I found myself holding my breath every time I approached the crane pen each morning. You just never know what you’re going to find because night can be a really really long time for a crane… especially considering the fates never sleep and they’re not always friendly. It’s not until your vision is filled with that most beautiful sight of everyone A-OK that one’s breath returns to normal.

I found this daily reaction curious… secretly embarrassing even, but never mentioned it to anyone. Not exactly macho, you know. Then one early morning at Necedah years ago, Brian Clauss from Patuxent and I were approaching the crane pen at Site 4 when he whispered from under his helmet, “It always amazes me how every time I approach a crane pen I wind up holding my breath! Guess I’ll never get used to it”! Clearly Brian was more comfortable with his masculinity than I was with mine. “Me too!” I answered in relief, the closeted breath holder in me finally coming out.

Then last summer, while driving from somewhere to somewhere else, Bev looked hard past the steering wheel into the distance and said to me, “You know, every crane flight when I fly over a nest, I hold my breath till I see the chick.” “I know.” I replied, knowing all too well how tough those nest surveys had been for her. Thirteen chicks hatched last spring, but one by one they disappeared until only one surviving chick remained, a la death by a thousand cuts. That’s a lot of breath holding.

Now, as I sit in the blind gazing out at the 2014 crane colts as they do their pre-migration chick things while the hands of the migration clock tick louder and louder, I catch myself starting to hold my breath.  There is, after all, a fairy tale quality about this project which often obscures the reality that after fourteen years of heroic effort and the expenditure of millions of dollars, its ultimate success remains very far away from a sure thing. Which means, I guess, that there is certainly enough breath holding to go around.

One of these days, perhaps today, or tomorrow or the next, I’ll approach the pen and discover to my amazement that the old, familiar breath hold is gone… and that there is an Easter Bunny and a Tooth Fairy and a Santa Claus on his way to my RV with my pony.  And that there is no climate change, that the world is flat and politicians speak only the truth… and that God is in his heaven and all’s right with the world.  Maybe someday.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Auction Items Needed!

The 2015 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 multiple formats – online, silent, and LIVE! Yes, at the Crane Festival dinner we will conduct a live auction featuring a small number of super-special items. And because we know that not everyone can attend the festival in Wisconsin, we will also conduct an online auction using Facebook.

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 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 committee will determine which auction it best suits, and it will be assigned accordingly. No single item will appear in multiple auctions, and the 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 (live or silent) so that it can travel home safely with the winning bidder.

The committee also reserves the right to limit the number of items in certain categories. We believe that if we receive too many of certain types of items (e.g. framed photography), then none of them will receive as much attention as they deserve. If this happens, the committee will either donate it to a worthy organization in the Princeton area, or will return it to you – you decide!

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.

WHAT IF MY ITEM IS TOO BIG AND BULKY TO MAIL OR SHIP TO PRINCETON? CAN I MAKE OTHER ARRANGEMENTS? Yes! Given the geographic spread of Craniacs attending the Whooping Crane Festival, there’s a good chance that we can arrange to have your item picked up and driven to Wisconsin. Just contact me at jbellemer(AT)operationmigration.org and we’ll figure something out.

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 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 possible.

WHAT IS THE CUTOFF DATE FOR SENDING IN MY ITEM? Our cutoff for receiving items is August 7th. 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 7th!

WHEN ARE THE AUCTIONS? The Whooping Crane festival will be held the weekend of September 12th, 2015. There will be a dinner on Friday night, 9/11, at which there will be both a silent and live auction, each featuring a small number of items. On Saturday, at the festival, there will be a large silent auction. The online (FaceBook) auction will open on 9/1 and close 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 donate the item to a worthy charitable organization in the Princeton, WI area.

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

PLEASE Don’t Feed Bread to Waterfowl

What is ‘angel wing’?

Canada goose with Angel wing. Photo: Ross Michaels

Canada goose with Angel wing. Photo: Ross Michaels

This condition is a wing deformity, also referred to as slipped wing. It is commonly found in ducks, geese and swans where the last joint of the wing is twisted outward. The leading cause of Angel wing is high concentrations of protein in the diets of growing waterfowl. The highest incidences of Angel wing in waterfowl occur at parks where the public feeds these waterbirds bread, which not part of a proper diet for them.

CLICK to read more about this condition and to learn about good alternatives if you feel you absolutely must feed waterfowl.

 

2015 MileMaker Campaign

At the start of each new crane season, 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.

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

Even though the Class of 2015 Whooping crane chicks have yet to begin hatching, we must begin to fundraise for their upcoming migration. Currently, only 55 miles of the 1200 mile trek are sponsored, which is enough to get them to southern Wisconsin – so we have a long way to go. Please consider becoming a MileMaker sponsor and help us help the Class of 2015.

You have the choice of sponsoring a full mile ($200), a half mile ($100) or even a quarter mile ($50).

We’ll also list your support on the MileMaker recognition page so everyone will see your support of Whooping cranes.

As small token of appreciation, 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’s preview of the monthly calendar images for May, August and November:

 May    
 May  August November

It’s the start of a new Whooping crane season! will you help?

 

Whooping Cranes Confirmed in Wisconsin

Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan was able to fly a survey on Tuesday over the core reintroduction area and reports the following cranes are back on, or close to their established territories in the core reintroduction area.

*NFT = Non-functional Transmitter

7-07/39-07, 5-05/32-09, 17-07/NFT (likely 10-09), 29-09/19-14, 22-13, 13-03/NFT  (likely 9-05), 34-09/NFT (likely 4-08), 1-10/W1-06, 27-06/26-09, 13-02/NFT (likely 18-02), 11-02/26-07, 3-11/19-11/NFT, 9-03/3-04 in flight Juneau County, 16-04 and 12-02.

In addition to the cranes listed above, PTT data indicate 7-11 (and likely her mate 10-11) are back in their Marquette County, WI territory and 4-11 (and her mate 29-09) have returned to Wood County as well.

As of yesterday morning 7-14 and 4-12 (and possibly 4-13) had advanced northward to Carroll County, IL.

If you happen to spot a Whooping crane please use this link to report your sighting.

We thought it a good time to remind everyone of the recommended guidelines should you be fortunate enough to encounter a Whooping crane.

  • To protect these Whooping cranes we will not divulge the exact location of the sighting.
  • We ask that you please do not approach them closely, even in a vehicle, to avoid habituating the birds to human presence. Habituation is one of the greatest dangers that whooping cranes face because it puts them at greater risk from vehicle collisions, predation, and illegal shooting.
  • Please be respectful of the property of others and do not trespass.

The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership encourages birding listserv administrators and managers of social media page(s) to not release exact location information of Whooping cranes in the Eastern flyway. In an effort to protect these young and impressionable cranes, WCEP releases county level location information only.

American Birding Association Principles of Birding Ethics

Aransas NWR Aerial Survey

How many Whooping cranes can you count?

Preliminary survey data indicated 308 whooping cranes, including 39 juveniles, in the primary survey area (approximately 153,200 acres) centered on Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

I’ll Be Back

Whooping crane 5-12

Who could ever forget Arnold Schwarzenegger’s great line in the movie “The Terminator”?  #5-12 certainly didn’t on that not so long ago Christmas Eve when his old buddy, 4-12, kicked him out of the pen and into exile. Unfortunately, “Terminatee” was the movie the poor little guy found himself starring in.  But the world belongs to those who wait… “Patience, Grasshopper.”

So wait he did. He moved for a while over to a nearby ranch and played nice with a small herd of cows.  Nothing like a pasture full of cows to take the sting out of loneliness. But later the cows were moved, either to a different ranch or somebody’s dinner plate and so it was back to the marsh for #5-12.  Not that any of this was new.  In fact, it was a rerun of last year when #4-12 kicked him to the curb.  The poor little fellow probably thought he was watching a rerun on “Me TV.”  Still, the world eventually belongs to those who wait.  Just ask any cockroach.

Meanwhile, he lurked in a neighboring marsh, watching and waiting for opportunities. When the pen population would take their morning feeding flight to a nearby creek, he’d fly into the pen, rush to the feeder, and do his impersonation of “Cool Hand Luke” eating hard boiled eggs while keeping a wary eye on the horizon.  The whole affair was done with the speed and precision of a NASCAR pit stop.  Then those familiar white dots would appear pen bound in the sky and it was “Up, up and away” for #5, often with #4-12 and 4-13 hot on his six-o’clock.  He must have read the book, “Cat Burgling Chow for Dummies.”  It was almost like a game. A team sport… without a team.

All that changed a week and a half ago when “The King” left the building with 4-13 and took little #7-14 along, just as a tease.  You see, there was a small measure of hope the old boy would take the “Class of 14” on migration back to Wisconsin, leading them over the half of the migration route they missed coming down. Only 7-14 had the winning ticket.  And yesterday, her last PTT hit placed her and hopefully the other two, firmly in northern Illinois.  The rest of the chicks just looked on in confusion before settling into winter flock minus three mode.

Meanwhile, the ever patient 5-12 watched from his hiding place in the adjacent marsh and before you could say “He who hesitates is lost”, he was in the pen gulping down large beak fulls of crane chow.  In fact, he was so hungry he almost ate the feeder!  “Easy boy!” we cautioned from the blind.

Whooping crane 5-12

Whooping crane 5-12

Soon it was clear that food wasn’t the only thing he was hungry for.  Companionship!  He was lonely.  When the chicks took an unscheduled last minute flight over the tree line one evening and I began my all too familiar trudge out to eyeball their exact whereabouts, 5-12 released his grip on the hanging feeder and flew out to land at my side.  “It’s a cold and lonely world out there.” I commented. “I should have been hatched a sandhill,” he replied.

So now we watch from the blind as his little reptilian crane feet carry him from one feeder to another around the pen like the hands on a clock. The question is, will he migrate before he pops!  And if he doesn’t completely explode from his ravenous food intake, will he be too heavy to get his butt off the ground!  And there is, of course, that other question: when he does migrate north, will he take any of the chicks with him?  After all, he loves company even if he is at the bottom of the pecking order. Seizing the initiative and launching on migration could change all that.  After all, the last thing they heard him say before he left Wisconsin last fall on migration was, “I’ll be back!”

Let’s hope so.

It’s Like Being Pregnant Again…

It’s getting close – you know it is, but you have no idea when it’s going to happen. Could be today or tomorrow but Thursday looks best. Or maybe a week from Saturday. It’s just like being pregnant, you have no idea when the big event is going to happen. When will our Whooping crane colts take off?!

Will 5-12 take 8-14? The don’t seem bonded but they do hang together, sort of. I am ready and waiting.

And waiting…

So, the van is packed! I have clothes, a sleeping bag (just in case) every bit of tracking info Eva has given me is printed and ready to review. The tracking receiver is spruced up and working well. I have my costume and puppet and a spare in case whoever joins me does not have one. Two pair of boots. And so we wait, and wait…

The one difference I can see between this waiting to track cranes and being 9 months pregnant and waiting to have the baby is, once you have the baby you know where it is and don’t have to chase it (well at least for the 1st year) whereas I’m going to be doing some major chasing and hide and seek.

So right now, I’m just as nervous as when I was waiting for that 1st labor pain many many years ago.

Eagle With Mini Camera

We just had to share… COURTESY OF “FREEDOM CONSERVATION”
Highest recorded bird flight from man-made structure filmed on Sony Action Camera in effort to draw attention to eagle conservation. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, and the magnificent centerpiece of Downtown Dubai.

Post by RT.