Knock Your Socks Off!

We hope you’ll get a kick out of these new Whooping crane socks available exclusively to Operation Migration!

Pre-order yours today! They’ll be ready to ship at the end of June.

Each pair features a Whooping crane in flight, coming in for a landing, adult with a young chick, crane catching a Blue crab and on a nest with an egg. Lightweight crew style made from 90-94% Cotton, 3% Nylon and 3% Spandex to maintain shape.

Available in two sizes.

IMG_20150522_113848WHCR_socksfront_1Perfect for yourself and for gifts!

Nesting and Chick Status Update

As of Monday, June 8 there are 11 wild hatched chicks surviving. The following table provides the adult pair, hatch date and chick number for the surviving crane chicks.

*Information in RED indicates pair was in the forced renesting group.

 Female  Male  Hatch Date Chick number
 17-07 10-09 11 May W3-15
 5-10 28-08 16 May W6-15
25-09 2-04 18 May  W10-15
 12-03 29-09  ~2 June  W13-15
 24-08 14-08  TBD  W12-15 
 8-05  1-04 ~2 June  W16-15 
 9-03  3-04 ~2 June  W17-15 
 39-07 7-07  2 June  W20-15
 32-09 5-05  2 June  W15-15
 16-07 16-02  2 June  W21-15 
 26-09 27-06  8 June  W22-15 

Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan sent along the following photos, which she captured on Monday, 8 June during her aerial survey over Necedah NWR and surrounding area.

W3-15 with parents 17-07 and 10-09

W3-15 with parents 17-07 and 10-09

W6-15 with 28-08 and 5-10

W6-15 with 28-08 and 5-10

W10-15

W10-15 with Mom and Dad. Look how big it is!

Wild Whooping crane chick W13-15 with Mom (12-03*)

Wild Whooping crane chick W13-15 with Mom (12-03*)

Wild chick W12-15 with both parents tending to it.

Wild chick W12-15 with both parents tending to it.

W-15-15

W-15-15 – not easy to spot!

W20-15

W20-15

W17-15

W17-15 with parents

W21-15

W21-15

W22-15

W22-15 Still on the nest platform with parents

Volunteers Needed

It’s that time of year when we’ll be heading out to White River Marsh to get it in tip-top shape for the arrival of the Class of 2015 at the end of June.

Jo-Anne and I will drive out later this week – each hauling something – as we have some Crane Festival duties to take care of next week. Joe will leave a week later to be on hand to help get the training site ready.

This is where YOU come in! We’re in need of a few able-bodied volunteers that live in the area and don’t mind getting their feet wet and their hands dirty. We’re targeting to get the bulk of the work underway June 20-21st (Saturday and Sunday) so that we can finish up the following week.

Some of the tasks that need to be completed include:

Setting up camp
Move equipment from Princeton hangar to the training site.
Mow and rake the runway
Mow inside the dry pen
Attach topnet on wet and dry pens
Repair hot wire as needed
Other pen repairs as needed
Add gravel under the feeders
Run hoses for water pump
Set up water pump
Observation blind preparation
Move camera and get operational
Unload Aircraft trailer

If you’re interested in helping, please shoot me an email heather(AT)operationmigration.org

Thank you!

A Whoophill Called “Whoopsie”

WCEP has confirmed the first wild hatched crane chick in the Wisconsin Rectangle area – unfortunately, it’s not a Whooping crane… well, half of it is. The other half is a Sandhill crane.

The happy family consists of male DAR #16-11 and a pretty little Sandhill crane Mom, and their fuzzy orange hybrid chick, aptly named ‘Whoopsie.’ (Photos below)

This isn’t the first time a hybrid crane chick has been documented. In 1992 a Whoophill was produced when a Whooping crane from the Grays Lake Whooping crane reintroduction paired up with a Sandhill crane. (See 1992 press release)

Visit the International Crane Foundation to read more about this unlikely pair.

Many thanks to Naomi Steinruck for the great photos! (click photos to enlarge)

Sandhill crane (Mom) and Whooping crane (Dad) with their hybrid crane chick at Horicon NWR.

Sandhill crane (Mom) and Whooping crane (Dad) with their hybrid crane chick at Horicon NWR.

IMG_0756_1

IMG_0763_1

It would appear that Dad is very attentive to the young chick

IMG_0762_1 IMG_0761_1

Aerial Survey Results

Wisconsin DNR’s Bev Paulan flew over the Necedah NWR and surrounding area Thursday last week and reports the following pairs still have live chicks:

3-11/7-11 with at least 1 (checking images)
14-08/24-08 with 1
9-03/3-04 with 2
2-04/25-09 with 1
18-03/36-09 with 1
1-04/8-05 with 1
29-09/12-03 with at least 1 (checking images)
16-02/16-07 with at least 1 (checking images)
10-09/17-07 with 1
5-05/32-09 with 1
7-07/39-07 with at least 1 (checking images)
5-10/28-08 with 1
Pair 26-07/27-06 is still incubating
* Bev sent along the following message after reviewing her images on Friday:
After reviewing all of my 600 images (I’m serious) I took during yesterday’s survey, I cannot definitely say 3-11/7-11 have only one chick, nor can I say positively 29-09/12-03 still have 2.  I can say with confidence both 16-02/16-07 and 7-07/39-07 only have 1 chick each (but that could change, too, as I only saw 1 chick with 9-03/3-04 on Tuesday).
See how frustrating (and rewarding!) counting chicks can be?
5_10* (Mom) and chick W6-15

5_10* (Mom) and chick W6-15

9-03* & 3-04 with their two wild hatched chicks.

9-03* & 3-04 with their two wild hatched chicks.

Parent Rearing Method

It was like waking up to the nightmare of finding myself in a Japanese monster movie! These were not adult whooping cranes staring menacingly down at us from inside the pen. They were prehistoric, man eating velociraptors painted up to look like whooping crane parents! At their feet was a small, few day old chick barely visible in the tall grass. The fear began to rise in my throat and a nervous sweat blanketed my body. “Relax”! My right brain said to my left.  “This will be a walk in the park.”  “Yea!” my left brain replied. “Jurassic Park!”

“Now, Robert and I will have to devote our full attention to keeping them off of you. “ Brian instructed me. “So after you grab the chick, yell “Got it!” as loud as you can and run like hell for the door. We’ll be right behind you and Dr. Olsen will be waiting with a medical kit if there’s a… problem.”

It was hard to believe that less than an hour earlier I was walking across the Patuxent parking lot congratulating myself that the world was indeed my oyster when Dr. Glenn Olsen, crane vet and researcher, leaned out the pickup truck window and called over, “Hey Brooke.  Want to go Parent Rearing with us?” “Sure!” I replied as I raced off to gather up a hat, pair of safety glasses and extra pair of BVD’s – just in case.

This is the third year of Patuxent’s Parent Rearing Project. The project was conceived to investigate the problem that Eastern Migratory Population of whooping cranes are simply not reproducing successfully in the wild. They are pairing, nesting, laying eggs alright but after almost fifteen years of hard work and countless dollars spent, only two (of seven) wild fledged chicks have survived to date.  Black flies were thought to be the problem and the project was moved from the Necedah Refuge to the “Wisconsin Rectangle,” an area supposedly free of black flies. But it has turned out that even without the presence of black flies, the chick survival problem persists.

It is like peeling the layers of an onion.  We discover and solve one problem only to find another lying beneath it.  After more than 45 years of whooper reintroduction projects, the ultimate goal of a second self-sustaining population of whoopers remains elusive at best. And although we perpetually feel we are getting close to the answer, we fully realize that in the end, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

So what else can it be, researchers ask. Predators perhaps?  But there are predators everywhere… even in the natural occurring Wood Buffalo/Aransas population and their flock is growing slowly while ours continues to decline. Some biologists believe the problem lies in the way we raise our cranes.  Our costume rearing technique may be failing to teach some critically important behaviors, like teaching the cranes how to be good parents and protect their chicks against predation. The Parent Rearing Project allows an adult pair of cranes to raise a chick in a pen here at Patuxent. No costumed humans are involved. The chick stays with the “parents” until September when it is transferred to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin and released near a pair of adult whooping cranes that will hopefully adopt it and take it with them on migration. There are five chicks in the project this year.

Young Whooping crane chick penned with adults at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

Young Whooping crane chick penned with adults at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

“Now, everybody FOCUS and let’s go!” Brian commanded, and with that we rushed through the door into the pen like a SWAT TEAM on steroids.  Immediately, the adult cranes charged us in full rage, in a do or die effort to protect their chick. Their normally five foot heights and seven foot wingspans seemed to grow exponentially with their anger while Brian and Robert fought to hold them off with straw brooms.  I raced in behind the melee and grabbed the little brown ball of fuzz. But as I tried to yell “Got it!” the only words that would come out of my mouth were, “We’re all going to die”! in Japanese!!!!

Soon we were safely at the tailgate of the pickup truck and while Dr. Olsen weighed the chick, gave it a quick health check and an anti-parasite injection, I grabbed my extra pair of BVD’s and drifted off quietly into the woods to change.

Chicks are weighed daily to ensure they're gaining weight.

Chicks are weighed daily to ensure they’re gaining weight.

 

Dr. Glenn Olsen performs a quick health examination. Left to right: Brian Clauss, Flock Manager, Dr. Glenn Olsen, and Robert Doyle, Crane Technician

Dr. Glenn Olsen performs a quick health examination. Left to right: Brian Clauss, Flock Manager, Dr. Glenn Olsen, and Robert Doyle, Crane Technician

Soon after that, the chick was carefully returned to the pen and his “parents.”  We watched in a kind of awed, dilute rapture as their almost supernatural rage subsided into exquisitely subtle and gentle parental behaviors we could observe but only hope one day to understand.

As we pulled away in the truck, Brian grabbed a pair of binoculars and jumped out into the tall grass saying, “You go on ahead.  I’m going to stick around a while and make sure everything goes alright.”  We continued through a series a gates and down the road awhile when Dr. Olsen realized suddenly, “But he forgot to take a broom with him.”  “Don’t you worry,” Robert replied with a big grin. “If Brian thinks that chick’s in trouble, he’ll be in that pen so fast, he wouldn’t have time to grab a broom!”

The true character of a place and the spirit of an effort are often summed up best and most eloquently by a simple, offhandedly indirect statement accompanied with a laugh or a grin or a nod of the head.  As the pickup continued its jerky, rattling dirt road journey back to the parking lot, I knew I had just heard the definition of Patuxent.

Soon the truck was unloaded and we each headed off to the next job on our seemingly endless “whooper honey do list.” That’s when Robert yelled over to me, “So what did you think of Parent Rearing?”  All I could do was smile the smile… of a survivor.

That’s when the Director yelled, “Cut!”

Now, if I could just figure out a way to kick start that broom…. and make it fly.

One of five 2015 Parent Reared Whooping crane chicks.

One of five 2015 Parent Reared Whooping crane chicks.

Socializing Crane Chicks

Number 1-15 hatched May 3rd which makes him 31 days old today. Crane chicks 2-15 and 3-15 hatched May 5th so they are now 29 days of age. They have been training together for 6 days now and have done great.

Monday was the first true test of how these guys would get along. Sharon explained to me that we were going to walk these guys to a pen in the next series over. I was to show them their water buckets and footbaths then just sit and watch – not to interact and only to intervene if someone was aggressive or terribly nervous and paced or raked their beaks on the fence.

It started off on a good note. Number 2-15 came out of his run like a trooper. Up to Saturday this little guy was a real homebody and did not want to leave his safe, familiar run. Starting Sunday morning at training time he was like a different bird! Out he came and ran to the circle pen with me – Woot! Progress!!

We walked over to the large pen, I showed them the water, the foot baths and we did a tour of the pen then I settled down to watch. Within just a few minutes their true personalities came out. Without a task, not being walked or trained, you could see so much more of who each of them were!

Number 1-15 is the dominate bird! He gave a good peck to either of the two other birds who tried to get near whichever footbath he was near.

Whooping crane 1-15 guards the footbath

Whooping crane 1-15 guards the footbath

Number 2-15 is a cry baby. He peeped in varying degrees of alarm the entire time we were there. No surprise I suppose.

Whooping crane 2-15

Whooping crane 2-15

Number 3-15 just melted my heart, he clung to the costume, just as close as he could get and stuck to me like glue.

2015-06-03_3-15_1

Whooping crane 3-15 seems to be the clingy one

Yesterday, Brooke and I took them back for round two of free time in the outdoor pen. It has rained a lot since Monday and the low spots have filled up so that they had a mini-pond. It was like having different birds.

Number 1-15 was still dominate, but much less snippy. He did way more foraging than guarding the foot bath! Number 2-15 had to be coaxed out of his run, but once there, did very little peeping. He found that clods of dead grass make a great toy!

Number 3-15 also enjoyed the clods of grass and played a lot, she did not feel like she had to hide beside me since number 1-15 was not wailing on her every chance he had. They each stuck close to me but every once in a while I’d move and they’d get interested in something and drift farther from me. They did great overall.

I can’t tell you how lucky and blessed I feel to be here and part of the early days of the Class of 2015. It’s been fascinating and great getting to know the people who work at Patuxent. These folks have the best job ever. I am so grateful they put me to work, I love being here, and each of them.

*While Colleen is referring to each chick as ‘he or she’ we do not, as yet, know the genders of the crane chicks.

2015 Whooping Crane Festival!

The Whooping Crane Festival committee has been hard at work behind the scenes to get everything in place for the 2015 Whooping Crane Festival and registration is now open!

DSCF2576_CraneFest

Mark your calendars for September 10 – 13 and help celebrate the return of this incredible crane to Green Lake, Marquette and Dodge Counties in Wisconsin.

Check out all the activities we have lined up this year! 

Join us for the Whooper Welcome bash at Reilly’s Bar & Pub on beautiful Green Lake on September 10th.

On Friday, visit Horicon Marsh and participate in a guided bus tour following brunch. There are even pontoon boat tours of the marsh scheduled for Sunday!

Meet old friends and make new ones at the Festival kick-off dinner, which will be held in the Arboretum Room at Royal Ridges Banquet Facility in Ripon, Wisconsin on Friday, September 11th.

Here we’ll celebrate cranes and other birds with featured speaker Stan Tekiela, naturalist, wildlife photographer and author. Stan is the originator of the popular state-specific field guides such as Birds of Wisconsin, Illinois, etc. Field Guide, Wildflowers of Wisconsin, Illinois, etc., and Trees of Wisconsin, Illinois, etc. Over the past three decades Stan has authored more than 130 field guides, nature appreciation books and wildlife audio CDs for nearly every state in the nation, presenting many species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, trees, wildflowers and cacti.

Stan’s talk will present ‘Uncommon Facts about Common Birds’

Royal Ridges is located across from Comfort Suites – Blocks of rooms have been reserved at the discounted rate of $83/night. To take advantage of the discount, mention ‘Crane Festival’ when making your reservations. Phone: (920) 748-5500

Take in one of the early morning training sessions with the Class of 2015 cranes (weather permitting of course). Don’t forget your camera!

At Saturday’s festival, browse the many silent auction items, attend one or all of the speaker sessions, visit the vendor and artisan booths and bring the kids to see children’s entertainer David Stokes as he introduces his collection of critters that share the wild with cranes!

Saturday evening after the festival, we’ll meet at Princeton’s VFW Hall to swap stories and laughs at a pizza party catered by Christiano’s – be sure to brush up on your crane trivia for the chance to win prizes!

Sunday, paddle down the Fox River in a replica voyageur canoe while learning about the history of the river and seeing the wildlife it attracts. Or join OM volunteer Tom ‘Tume’ Schultz on a guided bird walk in beautiful White River Marsh, home to much more than Whooping cranes (as if that isn’t enough!).

Now you can see how busy our volunteer committee has been coordinating all the activities the 2015 Whooping Crane Festival has to offer! Space is limited for some of the sessions, so be sure to register early to avoid disappointment.

See you at the Festival! WHOOP!

Beating the Heat

“The man who chops his own wood is warmed twice.”  Perhaps. But the crane handler that trains and walks crane chicks in the Maryland summer heat is soon microwaved into a piece of charcoal dressed in a white costume… if he or she is not careful, that is. Last week’s deliciously cool temps have left the building and the game of “Beat the Heat’ has begun in earnest.  Out of mothballs comes all the keeping cool strategies that make working in this tanning salon – minus the salon, bearable.

Setting the alarm an hour or two earlier is the first step… that is, of course, if you just happen to have paid a little extra when you bought the noisy, inhumane device and actually got the one with an hour or two earlier on it. Mine has a cuckoo living inside of it that hates me. It’s even louder than the one that lives inside my head.  But then, the cuckoo is the most appropriate of birds to open one’s eyes to another day in the bird business. It is simply not possible to underestimate the cruelty of Mother Nature. But beating the sun to the training site can be the difference between successfully getting the chicks through their daily training and walking regime or just getting sunburned.

The next trick: clothing – or lack thereof.  The costume is a given but what lies beneath it is not and by the end of the morning there is less underneath it than under a Scotsman’s kilt. Thankfully, there are no morning inspections by an officer armed with a stick with a mirror attached to the end of it.  But if you were born under a very lucky star as I was, you have a Guardian Angel named Mary O’Brien watching over you who sewed you up a costume of material so light and shear that Victoria’s Secret bought the design and it has become the “Go To” Christmas gift for the special someone’s of bee keepers and out of work Klansman. You wouldn’t believe how lowering the temperature just a few degrees in that special biosphere that exists under the costume can mean the difference between ending the day as a human or a French fry.

Then there are the ice packs.  One or two of these little beauties strategically placed near one of those areas of the human globe labelled “Private Parts” can do wonders to make overheating the last thing on your mind.  And though their affect may not be lasting, they do enable you to hit those high notes when you sing the “National Anthem” before the start of each circle pen training session.

But it is the chicks that suffer the most in the heat. Being so close to the rapidly heating earth and too low to enjoy any breeze should one develop can quickly turn a benign twelve minute circle pen training session or a 20 minute walk into a Bataan Death March.  Their little beaks soon open wide in the condition called open-mouthed breathing as they attempt to cool themselves, while scurrying along beside their giant white tormentors. And as the sun rises mercilessly higher in the sky, we find ourselves sprinting from shade spot to shade spot like some Chinese Checker in the hand of a giant who drank too much coffee for breakfast.

Fortunately, each chick also gets a cool and refreshing daily swim… or two or three depending on considerations of weight gains or leg issues.  Problem is, State and Federal Law requires each chick to wait 30 minutes after eating before entering the water or they would sink immediately to the bottom of the pool and become forever the responsibility of Jacques Cousteau, who, as we all know, lives down there on the bottom….waiting. Then there is that requirement that each chick, before entering the pool, must stand before the Universal Pool Commandment sign which states, “We don’t swim in your toilet.  Please don’t pee in our pool.”

And eventually they do. Swim, I mean… if you could call what a spastic spider does “swimming.”

Whooping crane chick 1-15 cools off in the pool at Patuxent.

Whooping crane chick 1-15 cools off in the pool at Patuxent.

They remind you of Ester Williams doing laps with both of her arms and one of her legs tied behind her back while the theme from the movie “Titanic” begins playing in the back of your head. Water ballet, it is not, which is, I suppose, why they are called cranes and not ducks. A more appropriate name would be flotsam and jetsam.

So we push on through the summer, the chicks and ourselves, and take it all in stride. Come fall migration, the heat will be a distant memory and all the sweat and suffering will have been worth it.  Besides, it’s like they say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Or like Frank Purdue used to say, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.”

“Backstroke, little fellows. Backstroke!”

DSCF4050_1

DSCF4049_1

EMP Update

The map below indicates the last known location of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population. This map does not include birds that have not been reported for over one month, have likely moved from a previous location or that are long term missing. Updated band and transmitter information can be found in the attached document.

General

Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 93 birds (52 males, 41 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period included 90 whooping cranes in Wisconsin, 1 in Michigan, 1 in Indiana and 1 in Alabama. This total does not include 9 newly hatched chicks.

Injury

Male no. 18-11 was reported with a left leg injury on 1 April near the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin. He continues to be monitored abd appears to be slowly improving.

Mortalities

The remains of female no. 26-07 were collected from on her (re)nest on 7 May. Two eggs were also present. Death had likely occurred around 5 May.

The carcass of male no. 57-13 was collected in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, on 19 May. His death had likely occurred sometime from 9-11 May.

Previous status unknown

Male no. 10-11 was confirmed back on his former breeding territory in Marquette Co, Wisconsin, on 5 May. He and his former mate no. 7-11 apparently split in early April for unknown reasons.

Reproduction

To date there have been a record total of 37 nests by 27 different pairs. Eight nests failed, 8 had eggs removed as part of a renesting experiment, 4 nests were incubated past full term on nonviable eggs, 13 chicks have hatched from 9 nests so far (two nests still have a second egg that could hatch) and 8 nests are currently active. More information can be found in the nesting summary document.

2013 Cohort

No. 4-13 moved from Waupaca County, Wisconsin, to Marquette County with no. 7-14 on 5 May. Satellite readings for no. 7-14 indicated a roost location in Waushara County on 6 May and at the Horicon NWR, Dodge County, on 10 May. They remain in the area and have been seen occasionally associating with no. 9-13.

No. 9-13 remained at the Horicon NWR, Dodge County, Wisconsin, throughout the report period and has been seen occasionally associating with nos. 4-13 and 7-14.

No. 22-13 returned to the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, Wisconsin, by 6 May. He remained on and near the refuge throughout the remainder of the report period.

No. 24-13 remained in Adams County with female no. 19-14 throughout the report period.

No. 57-13 was found in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, during an aerial survey flight on 5 May. He died at this location on 9-11 May (see above).

No. 59-13 was last reported in Rock County, Wisconsin, on the afternoon of 3 April. She has a nonfunctional transmitter and cannot be tracked.

2014 Cohort

Ultralight

No. 7-14 moved from Waupaca County, Wisconsin, to Marquette County with no. 4-13 on 5 May. Satellite readings indicated a roost location in Waushara County on 6 May and at the Horicon NWR, Dodge County, on 10 May. They remain in the area and have been seen occasionally associating with no. 9-13.

Nos. 8, 9 and 10-14 were released at the White River Marsh SWA, Green Lake County, Wisconsin, on 4 May and moved to Winnebago County that night for roost. Satellite readings indicated roost locations in Waushara County on 5 May; a new Winnebago County location on 8-10 May; Columbia County on 13-20 May and Winnebago County again on 23 May where they remained through at least 25 May.

No. 3-14 moved from Union County, Illinois, to Johnson/Pope Counties, Illinois, on 3 May. She was captured on 12 May and held in a temporary pen until being transported to and released at the White River Marsh SWA, Green Lake County, Wisconsin, on 15 May with no. 4-14. Satellite readings indicated locations near the Lake Michigan shoreline in Washington County, Wisconsin, on the morning of 19 May and at the Horicon NWR, Dodge County, by roost on 20 May. She remained at the Horicon NWR until moving north to Waushara County on 23 May where she was observed alone on 27 May.

No. 4-14 was captured in Union County, Kentucky on 13 May and transported to and released at the White River Marsh SWA, Green Lake County, Wisconsin on 15 May with no. 3-14. He was last detected at this location during an aerial flight on the afternoon of 15 May. His current location is unknown.

Parent-reared

No. 19-14 remained in Adams County with male no. 24-13 throughout the report period.

No. 20-14 returned to the Necedah NWR, Juneau County, by 6 May where she began associating with male no. 11-02 whose mate (26-07) had just died.

No. 27-14 remained in St. Joseph County, Indiana, through at least roost on 4 May. Satellite readings indicated a roost location in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, on 8 May where she remained through at least roost on 10 May and along the Goodhue/Dakota County, Minnesota, border at roost on 13 May. By late afternoon on 18 May, she had moved back southeast to Dodge County, Wisconsin, where she remains.

EndMay2015Top612px

This update is a product of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. To access previous project updates and additional information on the project visit our website at http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/

WCEP thanks Andrew Cantrell and John Pohl for tracking assistance. We also thank Windway Aviation Corp. and pilots Bev Paulan and Mike Callahan (Wisconsin DNR), Jerry Burns and Bill Murphy for aerial tracking assistance.

Friends of a Feather

Colleen captured the following image just moments ago, which shows a costumed Brooke leading Whooping crane chicks 1-15, 2-15 & 3-15 in a circle-pen training session.

Class of 2015 crane chicks nos. 1, 2 & 3 following the ground trike.

Class of 2015 crane chicks nos. 1, 2 & 3 following the ground trike.

This means that some of the chicks are beginning the important step of socializing. As you know, when crane chicks are very young, well they basically want to fight. Survival of the fittest.

In case you’re wondering, currently 8 chicks have been allocated to the ultralight release method this year – so far. That could change in either direction depending on the number of crane chicks still expected to hatch.

As soon as we know for certain, we’ll make the proper introductions. Stay tuned.

Whooping Crane Survey Results

Wisconsin DNR’s Bev Paulan was able to get a flight in yesterday morning over the core nesting area and found the following:

Chicks:
5-10/28-08 with twin chicks W6-15 & W7-15 – Marathon County (photo below)
17-07/10-09 with W3-15 – Juneau County
W3-10 with W8-15  – Juneau Co. (photo below)
36-09/18-03/W5-15 – Juneau Co.
11-09/15-09/W2-15 – Juneau Co.
2-04/25-09/W10-15 – Juneau Co. (only 1 chick seen)
14-08/24-08 with W12-15 on nest – Juneau Co.
3-11/7-11 with new chick (W13-15) in Adams Co.  (1 egg still in nest)

There has been a record 37 nests this season from 27 pairs (10 renests). While 13 chicks have hatched this season, 9 currently remain.

The following pairs are still incubating:
1-04/8-05
16-02/16-07
29-09/12-03
W1-06/1-10
27-06/26-09
3-04/9-03
5-05/32-09 off nest but adjacent. Two eggs were seen.
7-07/39-07

Other birds seen:
28-05 with 3 Sandhill cranes – Wood County
12-02/4-11 on territory Wood Co.
7-09/26-10 with Non-functional transmitter (possibly 29-08–there was alot of threat posturing going on) – Juneau Co.
13-03/9-05 (no chick) – Juneau Co.
19-09/25-10 – Juneau Co.
4-08/34-09 – Juneau Co.
37-07 – Juneau Co.
18-02/13-02 – Juneau Co.
11-02/20-14 – Juneau Co.
5-11/12-11 – Juneau Co.
6-09/7-12 – Juneau Co.
24-09/42-09 off nest – Adams Co.
19-11/17-11 – Adams Co.
6-11/15-11 – Juneau Co.

W6-15 & W7-15 with parents 5-10* & 28-08

W6-15 & W7-15 with parents 5-10* & 28-08

Wild hatched chick W8-15 with Mom W3-10

Wild hatched chick W8-15 with Mom W3-10

Huge thanks to Bev Paulan for her flying skills and sharp eye

Knockin Your Socks off!

We hope you’ll get a kick out of these new Whooping crane socks available exclusively to Operation Migration!

Pre-order yours today! They’ll be ready to ship at the end of June.

Each pair features a Whooping crane in flight, coming in for a landing, adult with a young chick, crane catching a Blue crab and on a nest with an egg. Lightweight crew style made from 90-94% Cotton, 3% Nylon and 3% Spandex to maintain shape.

Available in two sizes.

IMG_20150522_113848WHCR_socksfront_1Perfect for yourself and for gifts!

You’re going to love them so much that you’ll want clear footwear so everyone can still see your socks!

Wood Buffalo Tours CANCELLED

Back in February we told you about helicopter tours at the only nesting grounds for the naturally occurring flock of Whooping cranes – Wood Buffalo National Park. Tours were made available to the public at a cost of between $1300 – $3800.

It seems this plan created a bit of a flap when aboriginal groups were not consulted.

Tours, which were set to begin yesterday and continue into June have now been cancelled until such consultation takes place. Thirty people had made reservations to take the tour.

READ the story.