Aerial Survey Results

Both Bev Paulan and Michael Callahan flew surveys late last week for Wisconsin DNR. Bev flew on Thursday and Michael, on Friday.

Here is Bev’s report:

First the bad news: I found the carcass of Whooping crane #12-02, the male of the Wood County pair.  His mate, 4-11 and chick W3-16 were alive and well. ICF’s Hillary Thompson went and recovered the remains, to ship to the wildlife health lab in Madison. The text I received from Hillary said there was no sign of predation or injury.

Now the good news, and there is lots of it:
15-09/11-02 have 2 chicks: Juneau County, WI
9-03/3-04 have 1 chick: Juneau County, WI
36-09/18-03 have 1 chick: Juneau County, WI
12-03/29-09 have 2 chicks: Juneau County, WI

1-04/8-05 have 2 chicks: Juneau County, WI

Birds still on nests:

14-08/24-08 Juneau County, WI
2-04/25-09 Juneau County, WI
1-10/W1-06 Juneau County, WI
26-09/27-06 Juneau County, WI
34-09/4-08 Juneau County, WI
18-09/23-10 Juneau County, WI
17-07/10-09 Juneau County, WI
16-07/16-02 Juneau County, WI
10-10/41-09 Juneau County, WI

7-07/39-07 Juneau County, WI

I could not find 3/7-11 and chick. Their nesting marsh is drying up rapidly.  Last week they were nearly a mile from the nest. With both having Non-Functional transmitters, I had no luck. I searched the entire marsh area and saw no white birds.

And now Michael Callahan’s findings:

It seems the pair consisting of male 4-13 and female 7-14 have returned to their Marquette County territory. They were spotted on White River Marsh on Thursday afternoon but Mike spotted them at their summer territory at 1:10 pm on Friday.

Also spotted were the pair – 4-12 and 3-14. They were in the center of White River Marsh (Green Lake County) and it seems 4-12’s transmitter is also no longer working.

The 2 yr old female 8-14 was located approximately 1 mile south of the above pair.

Yearling female crane #1-15 was seen in flight by herself, in Dodge County, WI., while the foursome of yearlings consisting of 6, 8, 10 & 11-15 were spotted together in Winnebago County, WI.

Mike also found the female Parent Reared crane #14-15 in Jefferson County, WI along with six Sandhill cranes.

15_09 and twins_1

male 15-09 tends his two chicks while his new mate 11-02 is off foraging. Photo: Bev Paulan

29-09 and 12-03 and their two chicks. Photo: Bev Paulan

29-09 and 12-03 and their two chicks. Photo: Bev Paulan

Whooping crane pair 1-04 and 8-05 and their two crane chicks. Photo: Bev Paulan

Whooping crane pair 1-04 and 8-05 and their two crane chicks. Photo: Bev Paulan

The Capture – THE DAY…

Part Four: The Capture

“Today’s the Day!” the late treasure hunter, Mel Fisher, used to say every morning at the beginning of the day’s hunt for sunken treasure.  And, after 16 years, it was. He found the Spanish treasure galleon, “Atocha” – all 450 million dollars of her. Which all goes to prove once again, sometimes you just have to BELIEVE.

For our little capture crew, the clock was ticking ever louder, increasing our sense of urgency. We just had to catch those birds today or start thinking about attaching a mail box to the pen trailer and begin paying real estate taxes. In the interest of saving time, I skipped the Five Star motel breakfast and went right to the hospital to have my stomach pumped.

The radio talked about President Obama’s visit to the nearby city of Flint the day before to discuss the cities’ crisis of too much lead in the drinking water. The sad commentary went on to say that not so many years ago, cars were being manufactured in Flint and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico.  Now, the cars are being manufactured in Mexico and you can’t drink the water in Flint. Though I wasn’t from the area, the comment stung.  Then the car in front of me had a bumper sticker that said, “Clean Air Smells Funny.” It felt like “piling on.” But I guess it’s like my father said to me the day I left for college, “It’s a good thing you were born with a sense of humor, Son. You’re going to need it.”

“They’re early!” Flambeau announced. The birds were waiting for us, although still keeping their distance. The sun began its ascent from just below the horizon and as it rose, it cranked up the color volume and intensity of the bird’s white feathers. Soon, the sun’s rays were dancing magically on each bird to translucent and phosphorescent effect. We could only stand mesmerized as the episode of “Fifty Shades of White” played out before us. Whooping cranes never surrender their ability to surprise and amaze.

Then began the day’s match; a continuum of moves and counter moves. We would walk slowly with calculated steps to out flank and gently herd the birds toward the pen only to watch them drift warily away.  Then we would get one, then two birds into the pen only to have the third and then the fourth accelerate away in the opposite direction. “Patience, Grasshopper” my invisible friend cautioned softly. It was soon clear that although we were making progress, it was not yet time to spring the trap. The first session of the day ended as the birds suddenly, as if having tired of the game for the time being, flew off and landed in a nearby ag field while we solemnly headed back to the road, then into town for a break.

“Having any luck?” Steve asked when I returned. “Not yet, but we’re close,” I answered.  Just then another car pulled up and a woman rolled down the window and asked, “Have you seen any whooping cranes?” Steve and I just looked at each other and smiled.  “You just missed them, but they’ll be back.” She pulled over and got out. “Where would be the best place to see them,” she asked. “Right where you’re standing,” I announced with great confidence.  Just then as if on cue, we looked up to see the four birds flying towards us. “Here they come,” Steve said. They then turned just over our heads and did one of the most beautiful “fly-bys” I had ever seen and landed back near the pen. The woman squealed with childlike delight, her hands pressed hard against her mouth as she jumped up and down a few times.  Steve and I looked at each other in amazement.  “You’re lucky,” he said to the woman.  Meanwhile, the voice of my invisible friend began yelling into my ear. “Hurry! Take her into town and have her buy you a Lottery Ticket… NOW!”

The woman went on the tell us she had seen one of the whooper chicks in a nearby county sometime back and that she was so moved by the experience she wrote a song on her way back home. “Want to hear it?” she asked. Steve and I looked at each other again. “Sure,” we answered. What followed was one of the sweetest, most sincere and joyful performances I had ever witnessed. It was as if she was channeling Shirley Temple to our Wallace Beery. How amazed and privileged I suddenly felt when she finished, for though I have seen many wonderful reactions of people to the birds over the years, this was undoubtedly a First. Steve and I could only laugh with appreciation as we listened to the echo of our own hands clapping.

Then Marianne, Hillary and Andy returned and we suited up for what we hoped was the last round of the fight.  On the way out to the pen, Marianne received an important work related phone call.  As she attended to it, I became aware of the pulsing sound of an airplane motor roaring to full power, then backing off to idle. Up above in the near distance, the pilot was executing a full acrobatic program. Loops, barrel rolls, Immelmann’s, lazy eights… a veritable celebration of flight. It was the perfect union of man and machine. “I’m going to wring this baby out,” I could hear the pilot whisper over the whine of the engine. And that’s when the voice of my invisible friend interrupted. “If that pilot really did have the Right Stuff, he’d be flying an ultralight!”

Then it was over as quickly as it began as the plane and its pilot returned to its roost. But they were immediately replaced by a series of the biggest, most beautiful clouds I had ever seen.  Like an aerial lava lamp, they cast their spell as I stared skyward until my neck started to hurt.  How incredible they were, I thought!  Were they really up there all the time and I just never took the time to notice? Guess the astronomers are right. “Keep looking up!” Only do it during the day instead of at night. That way you won’t trip over anything in the dark. But the best part? No Federal, State or local taxes. Marianne finished her call and we resumed our march.

The moment of Truth. The birds were waiting for us as was that feeling you sometimes get towards the end of any game when, even before the points are on the board, you just know the game is won. We silently and intuitively began our choreography of capture as the birds, as if accepting their fate, succumbed slowly to our will.  Marianne lured them into the pen. First Corky, then a wary Mendota, then a very reluctant Druid. Flambeau had drifted away from the others, so we closed the pen gate and slowly began to stalk him. A few anxious minutes followed, but soon he was in hand and joining his buddies in the pen. And that’s how you spell RELIEF!

But, no time for celebration.  It was going to be a long ride back to Wisconsin. Besides, it was time for the boxes to appear. UPS, one of my former employers (really!) had already made their afternoon pickups, so transport was the responsibility of our own shipping department.  We retrieved the cardboard bird boxes from the van and were soon back in the pen introducing the birds to their new temporary homes.

“Oh……………….Crap!” they exclaimed in unison. Now, if any of you have ever had the childhood experience of your older sibling and their friends trying to put you in the box that your mother’s washing machine came in, you know how much fun it can be. But then it wasn’t like we were a posy of crazy stage magicians planning on sawing the boxes in half! Anyway, the birds should have flown back to Wisconsin when they had the chance. “Case, ah… box closed!” The birds were soon in the boxes and the boxes were soon in the van. “Fasten your seat belts.” Then down came the pen, as quickly and efficiently as if we’d been doing it for years.  Wait a minute! I HAVE been doing it for years!

Marianne, Hillary and Andy would be driving all night to Wisconsin to release the birds early the next morning while I was heading back to camp at White River Marsh. So as we said our goodbyes, I secretly wished that someday in the not too distant future we might do this all again.

Back on the road, a number of the neighbors were watching the finale of our little drama which had also become theirs’. We had each played our parts and played them well. And it was with heartfelt appreciation that I shook hands and said goodbye to these special people and this very special place. How wonderful it would be, I thought, if you could go to sleep at night believing it was like this everywhere in the world….and that all the crazy things you saw on the TV News each night were mere fabrications filmed on a Hollywood sound stage…. the same one where they filmed the first moon landing. “One small step…”

I started off down the road when I saw Mike’s pickup coming the other way. He stopped and rolled down his window. “My son and I were on an All Star baseball team for more than fifteen years, but I finally had to give it up this year.  Too old. I personally hand made a bat for each player on the team.  Turned them on my lathe.”  With that he picked up a bat from the passenger seat and handed it to me through the window. “This is my last bat. I don’t need it anymore. I want you to have it.” Then, with biggest, most wonderful smiles imaginable he added, “Us old guys got to keep on hitting.” I was simply overwhelmed. I had been blessed with many gifts in my life but never anything like this. And no Jedi Knight ever held his light sword more dearly. It was pure magic… the bat and the moment, and there was no doubt in my mind that with it, I could hit any pitch out of any ballpark.  “Thanks, Mike.” I said, as we shook hands and headed off in opposite directions.

The return trip was long but it went quickly. That was until I made that wrong turn… the one you are required to make on any memorable trip – and I found myself in downtown Chicago at 10 o’clock at night, speeding along in traffic at 70 miles an hour, bumper to bumper!  Where were all these people going at this hour, I wondered? The Chicago skyline was breathtaking, but I could only steal brief glimpses of it because the driving demanded all my concentration. “You’re not in Kansas anymore!” my invisible friend yelled into my ear. That was an understatement.  The murder rate was up 72% and shootings were up 88% over last year, with 1534 shooting victims by June 5th. As if under the influence of some mind altering hallucinogen, I’d traveled from “Mayberry RFD” to the futuristic sci-fi movie, “Blade Runner” with a pit stop at “Night of the Living Dead” in the space of several short hours. And although I love watching “Me TV”, this “time travel” thing was not at all to my liking. It was not hard to envision a Gary Larson or Gahan Wilson cartoon showing a room full of whooping cranes at a Human Eastern Partnership (HEP) meeting with a whooper in the front pointing to his power point screen and lecturing the audience, “In 2041 there were only 15 humans left in North America due to illegal hunting and loss of habitat.”

But soon it was all in the rear view, with only white lines and black night ahead.  And soon after that, it was White River Marsh and camp. No homecoming was ever more welcome. I parked the pen trailer next to the other one, crawled into the camper and called it a day… or was it a week.

DSCF6130

“So how was your trip?” the pen trailer asked the other.

“Oh, it was fine, I guess. A lot of just standing around, though. I’ll tell you all about it another time, but right now I’ve got to get some rest. That idiot wants me to follow him on another capture trip first thing in the morning.”

“What are you going to capture?”

“A feral cow!”

“Gosh! Some pen trailers get to have all the fun.”

– THE END –

 In case you’d like to read the three previous chapters:

Part 3 – The Capture

Part 2 – The Capture

Part 1 — The Capture

Photo Round-up

As mentioned a couple days ago, yearling female 2-15 is in McHenry County, Illinois. Hey! I thought – that’s not too far from where Jeff Fox lives – so I asked him to head out to check on her.

Jeff reports that she’s just fine and hanging out with three Sandhill cranes. He also sent along the following photo:

Yearling female Whooping crane 2-15. If you click to enlarge you will see she has very few tawny feathers left. Photo: Jeff Fox

Yearling female Whooping crane 2-15. If you click to enlarge you will see she has very few tawny feathers left. Photo: Jeff Fox

A bit further to the north Doug Pellerin managed to locate the pair consisting of 4-13 and female 7-14 at the north end of White River Marsh.

Male 4-13 & female 7-14 have been at White River Marsh since Tuesday. Photo: Doug Pellerin

Male 4-13 & female 7-14 have been at White River Marsh since Tuesday. Photo: Doug Pellerin

4-13_7-14_DSC_6726_sm

Whooping cranes 4-13 & 7-14 . Photo: Doug Pellerin

Sadly, Another Shooting

Release Date: 06/02/2016

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents are looking for leads regarding two endangered whooping cranes that appear to have been shot to death in Acadia Parish.

The cranes were found just south of Rayne off of Hwy. 35 on the morning of May 20.  The cranes were recovered and sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) forensics lab.

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It’s EMP Update Time

Nesting season is well underway for 2016 with first nests already hatched and re-nests due to hatch very soon. The 2015 cohort has begun their wandering phase and has been moving around quite a bit this spring. A huge thank-you to the staff of Operation Migration, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Natural Resources, and all of the volunteers who help us keep track of the cranes throughout the year. We appreciate your contribution to the recovery of the whooping crane eastern migratory population.

Population Estimate

The current maximum population size is 102 (48 F, 52 M, 2 U). As of 1 June, at least 87 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in Wisconsin, 1 is currently in Michigan, 6 are in Illinois, 1 in Minnesota, and 1 is in Indiana. The remaining 6 birds have not been confirmed in Wisconsin yet this spring.

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Where Are They Now?

As you know, juvenile Whooping cranes tend to move around a bit during their first summer. They’re essentially teenagers and teens like to explore… Who can blame them?!

Thanks to technology we know where some of them are. Here a list of the young cranes and their locations as of yesterday:

It would appear that female 8-14, and male 4-13/female 7-14 are still at White River Marsh, Green Lake County, WI.

The pair consisting of male 4-12 and female 3-14 is also at White River Marsh as is the still single male 5-12.
2-15 is in McHenry County, IL .

NO word yesterday on the foursome: 6, 8, 10 & 11-15, which likely means they’re in an area with no cell coverage, however, two days ago they were in Winnebago County, WI.

Nothing lately on 1-15 but she was in Rock Co., WI last I heard a couple of weeks ago.

The foursome of Direct Autumn Release cranes, which includes 61, 62, 63 & 67-15 were retrieved from Michigan in early May. This group seems to love to travel and are now back at their wintering location.

DAR 65-15 was successful in circumnavigating Lake Michigan and is now in Wisconsin and associating with Parent Reared crane #27-14.

Can’t We Just All Get Along?

Not when there are raging hormones involved, it seems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Female Whooping crane 8-14. Photo: Rich Smith

Female Whooping crane 8-14. Photo: Rich Smith

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

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

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

WANTED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Case you Missed it…

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

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

5-12vseagle

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

 

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

Mystery Whooper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5-12 n friend

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

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

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

Here’s 8-14’s PTT hit:

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

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

Window Strikes

Kudos to the City of Ottawa, ON for installing deterrent stickers to the glass skywalk, which connects the old city hall to the newer section. This past April dozens of Cedar waxwings collided with the glass structure.

Read more

Sticker dots, placed every 4 inches provide a visual obstruction to birds, which see only the reflection of surrounding area.

Sticker dots, placed every 4 inches provide a visual obstruction for birds, which see only the reflection of surrounding area.

 

Calling all Auction Items!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They’re Baaaaack…

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

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

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

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

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

4group

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