Chick Check

Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan flew on Monday and again yesterday and both days could only locate two crane chicks.

W7-16 was flying short sorties with both adults (29-09 and 12-03) closely watching.

W9-16 was with mom 8-05 while dad 1-04 was a short distance away.

It would appear that the oldest chick this year, number W3-16 disappeared from the landscape the preceding week. Mom 4-11 is now in Juneau County, WI associating with lone male #29-08.

Pictured is W7-16 with Mom 12-03 and Dad 29-09

Pictured is W7-16 with Mom 12-03 and Dad 29-09

Auction Item Donation Deadline…

…is looming! August 12th is the last day to submit your 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.

Parent Reared Whooping Cranes

Guest Author: Glenn H. Olsen, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

So, how do we go about parent-rearing whooping crane chicks at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center? We originally developed the parent-rearing technique long before we developed costume-rearing for the ultralight-led and direct autumn release programs. We have used parent-rearing releases first for endangered Mississippi sandhill cranes and later for Whooping Cranes released in Florida in the 1990s. Some Mississippi Sandhill Crane chicks are still parent-reared by our partners at White Oak Plantation for release into the wild. As we developed the Eastern Migratory Population in the Wisconsin to Florida corridor, we had survival of our introduced birds that was similar to the survival of Whooping Cranes in the wild Wood Buffalo-Aransas flock, and this was great. However, our introduced Whooping Cranes seemed to have problems rearing chicks.

After thinking hard about this, I became concerned that in addition to black flies, predators, etc., that maybe our costume-reared Whooping Crane chicks were missing some “early childhood education” by not being with their parents. Whooping Crane chicks stay with the adults for almost a year, learning the migration route, but they must be learning other behaviors, also. In 2013 I was able to start a small research project looking at ways to parent-rear and release Whooping Cranes in Wisconsin. The idea was that these birds would grow up to pair with other costume-reared birds from ultralight and direct autumn release reintroductions and be better parents, but more on this in another report.

IMG_0970_1What do we do when we are parent-rearing young Whooping Crane chicks? The first step is to get the parent birds to build nests and lay eggs. This means keeping them healthy all year. Even so, not all adult Whooping Cranes lay eggs each year. We have 12 pairs that could be potential parents, but only 9 of them laid eggs and were parents this year.

Ideally, the parent birds will sit on their own eggs, but some of our parents at Patuxent have difficulty with incubation, sometimes because of old wing injuries or other problems that mean they do not always incubate well, even though they may be excellent parents. So we sometimes swap out their eggs for wooden ‘dummy’ eggs and let them incubate the wood egg until near hatching when we swap an egg about to hatch.

After hatching, the chick is treated similarly to the chicks we costume-rear as far as health and well-being is concerned. We make daily veterinary examinations to check for any health or developmental problems. The Whooping Crane parents do the rest, though. They feed the chick insects, worms, meal worms and pelleted feed (both of which we supply) and they keep the chick warm, brooding it at night and in inclement weather.

Two years ago we had a female who was going through a severe molt cycle and it would have been difficult for her to brood her chick and keep it dry in rainy weather. We were concerned about her and her chick until we discovered that she was keeping the chick dry and healthy in the covered shed where the birds come to feed. Smart mama crane!

Here are some additional photos explaining the parent rearing process.

IMG_1076_1

A adult Whooping crane stands alert with a young chick at its feet.

Parents position themselves on either side of their youngster as Patuxent staff approach.

Parents position themselves on either side of their youngster as Patuxent staff approach.

The two adults alarm call. These are all important behaviors the young chicks observe and learn.

The two adults alarm call. These are all important behaviors the young chicks observe and learn.

Ed. Note: There are currently 14 Whooping crane chicks being reared by parents for release this fall in the Eastern Migratory Population. 9 at Patuxent, 3 at the International Crane Foundation and 2 at the Calgary Zoo’s Devonian Wildlife Conservation Center.

EMP UPdate – August 1, 2016

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. 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 100 (48 F, 50 M, 2 U). This total does not include wild-hatched chicks from 2016. As of 1 August, at least 90 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in WI, 1 is currently in Michigan, and 4 are in Illinois. The remaining 5 birds have not been confirmed in WI yet this spring. See map below.

2015 Wild Chicks

The bird we presume is W10_15, based on size and lack of bands, has been seen regularly in Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

The other unbanded bird, W18_15, has been hanging out in Monroe Co, WI with an adult male, 16-04.

Parent-Reared 2015 Cohort

14_15 (F) has been in Jefferson Co, WI throughout July.

20_15 (M) is currently in Walworth Co, WI.

DAR 2015 Cohort

61_15 (F), 62_15 (M), 63_15 (M), and 67_15 (F) spent all of July at their wintering grounds in Randolph Co. IL. They are currently still in IL.

65_15 (F) has still been with 27_14 (F) in Marathon Co, WI.

66_15 (F) spent July moving around in southeastern WI and was last reported in Racine Co.

68_15 (F) has remained in Dunn Co, WI throughout July.

64_15 (F) was last seen leaving Horicon in fall of 2015 with a large group of Sandhill cranes and has not been reported at a winter location nor in WI this spring.

UL 2015 Cohort

1_15 (F) has remained in Rock Co, WI throughout July.

6_15 (F) is still in Winnebago Co, WI.

8_15 (F) is still in Calumet Co, WI.

10_15 (F), and 11_15 (M) spent the first part of July in LaSalle Co, IL, but then came back to WI and are currently in Dane Co.

2_15 (F) spent all of July in Walworth Co.

Reproduction

There have been a total of 46 nests by 29 different pairs. Seven nests had eggs removed as part of the re-nesting experiment, 2 nests were incubated past full term, 23 chicks have hatched from 16 nests, and the remaining nests failed. There are at most 3 chicks alive at the time of this update.

W3_16 spent July in Wood Co with parent 4_11. W3_16 has likely fledged and hasn’t been seen on territory since 17 July. We got PTT locations from 4-11 at Necedah NWR but have not yet gotten a visual of the duo.

W7_16 is with parents 29_09 and 12_03 in Juneau Co.

W9_16 is with parents 1_04 and 8_05 in Juneau Co.

 

Suspected Mortality

Male 11_02 was last seen on 1 July, 2016 on territory with mate (15-09) and chick (W12-16) in Juneau Co, WI. 15-09 and W12-16 were seen together without 11-02 on 5 July, and 15-09 was seen alone on 11 July. By 13 July, 15-09 was seen with male 11-09 (her previous mate before 11-02). DNR and Refuge staff have searched extensively on the ground and from the air for 11-02 with no luck. At this time, he is suspected dead and has been removed from population totals above.

update_map

Tracking Photos

Doug Pellerin was out in White River Marsh doing a bit of tracking on Friday and came across some old friends.

On the left is female Whooping crane #3-14 and on the right, male #4-12.

On the left is female Whooping crane #3-14 and on the right, male #4-12.

Another shot of the 'Royal Couple'

Another shot of the ‘Royal Couple’

And here is male 5-12 with some Sandhill companions.

Male Whooping crane #5-12.

Male Whooping crane #5-12.

Of course we’d prefer he spend more time with the female #8-14 we heard him with two days earlier… maybe he’s taking things slowly.

Chick Check

Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan flew a survey looking for chicks yesterday and located:

W9-16 with parents 1-04/8-05 and W7-16 with 12-03/29-09.

29-09 & chick W7-16. Photo: Bev Paulan

29-09 & chick W7-16. Photo: Bev Paulan

Bev searched Wood County for 45 minutes looking for Mom 4-11 and the oldest of this years wild offspring #W3-16 to no avail. Hopefully this means the chick has officially fledged and is still with Mom.

A PTT hit placed  4-11 on Necedah Refuge yesterday afternoon, so refuge staff will check tomorrow to see if W3-16 is still with Mom.

In other news, Doug Pellerin and I went out on White River Marsh yesterday checking for signals and were delighted to find female 8-14 and male 5-12 TOGETHER. No visuals but strong radio signals in the same location. Yay!

Same ol’ Same ol’

Yesterday I mentioned that the cranes had pretty much settled down and were not moving around as much as they had been earlier in the season.

Take a look at this grab which shows the GSM hits for one crane: Female number 6-15 and only for the month of July. She has been moving very little – in fact she seems to be traveling between four main locations – all within a square mile.

6-15_July

Quick Location Update

There isn’t a whole lot different to report as we’re now in the heat of summer and all but two cranes are at their last reported locations.

When cranes return from the southern terminus, there is typically a spring wandering period – especially for younger birds that haven’t yet established a territory that needs to be defended.

The 2015 cranes appear to have finally settled down – except for the two youngest; 10-15 & 11-15.

They spent the first part of July in LaSalle County, IL and returned a couple weeks ago and are now in Dane County, Wisconsin.

White River Marsh

I thought you might like to see the actual river the White River Marsh is named after.

I captured these two photos during a pleasure flight over the weekend.

As you can see the river has many switchbacks. 

Here is a popular roost location for numerous Sandhill cranes and even a couple of Whooping cranes. 

This is the location CraneCam viewers often see sandhills/Whoopers landing in or leaving from at the north end of White River Marsh.

It’s AUCTION Time!

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.

A Visit to Necedah NWR

Betts Secor and Sue Wren of LaSalle, IL visited Necedah National Wildlife Refuge over the weekend and submitted the following photographs to share.

Sue said they were thrilled to spot three pairs of Whooping cranes!

13735357_10201869996789790_196323122_n_SueWren

With legbands out of view, we’re not sure who this pair is. The Canada geese sure seem curious. Photo: Sue Wren

13815269_10201869996669787_1920189799_n19-14

2 yr. old female 19-14. Photo: Sue Wren

13819869_10201869996909793_597715813_n_19-14

Whooping crane 19-14 snags a small fish. Photo: Sue Wren

13820740_10201869996949794_1293252575_n

Another pair at the refuge. Photo: Sue Wren

Public Sightings

wcep_logo_250Public reports of whooping crane sightings are an extremely valuable tool for monitoring crane locations, and the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) encourages people to continue to monitor and report such sightings. Nonetheless, while we certainly don’t want to discourage people from observing whooping cranes in the wild and reporting their sightings, we do want to remind people that for the benefit of the cranes, it is best if you keep a respectable distance.

Approaching cranes too closely can result in birds becoming habituated to humans. Habituation, in turn, can put the cranes at risk from people who mean them harm.

WCEP asks anyone who encounters a whooping crane in the wild to please give them the respect and distance they need. If you’re on foot, do not approach the birds within 200 yards; if in a vehicle, remain inside the vehicle and at least 100 yards away. For reference, a football field is 120 yards long from goalpost to goalpost. Also, please remain concealed and do not speak loudly enough that the birds can hear you. Finally, do not trespass on private property in an attempt to view or photograph whooping cranes.

We also want to take this opportunity to remind people that do see whooping cranes and are interested in reporting them to use the Eastern U.S. whooping crane reporting site located here: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/whoopingcrane/sightings/sightingform.cfm

We thank you for your help in tracking cranes and for your consideration in helping to promote the safety of these birds.
For more information visit: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org

It’s FESTIVAL TIME!

Registration is now open for this year’s festival!

The Whooping crane festival takes place the second weekend in September. This year’s activities get underway Thursday, Sept. 8th at 6pm with a meet and greet at the Goose Blind in Green Lake. Come on out and join everyone for an evening of fun activities.

Friday morning take in a tour at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin then join us at the American Legion in Princeton at 6pm for our Festival kick-off dinner!

Saturday, Sept. 10th brings the all day FREE festival for all ages at the Princeton School. Kids can take part in one of the interactive and informative sessions with David Stokes – the snake, turtle, frog man. Kids can also build their own birdhouse, have their face painted or take part in some of the other fun activities.

David Stokes is entertaining for children AND adults!

David Stokes is entertaining for children AND adults!

Be sure to check out the MASSIVE origami crane in the main gymnasium. The crane will be folded by the students of the Princeton School under supervision of Mako Pellerin. It is expected to have a wingspan of more than 30 feet and will be on display on the stage inside the gymnasium!

Mako provided this artists depiction for the massive origami crane she and the students will be making at the festival.

Mako provided this artists depiction for the massive origami crane she and the students will be making at the festival.

We have a fabulous speakers line-up this year so check it out and make plans to attend one or all of the sessions throughout the day.

Arrive early and take part in the pancake breakfast put on by the Princeton School students. The hotcakes start flipping on the griddle at 8am!

Stay for lunch and enjoy many local food offerings, including brats, cheesecake and many other favorites. Place bids on the many silent auction items lining the school hallways! (Winning bids will be announced at 2:30pm)

The Vendors Marketplace will open at 8am and we currently have twenty vendors and artisans lined-up. If you’re a vendor and would like to reserve a booth, please email: cranefestival@operationmigration.org

This is a great opportunity to start your holiday shopping or to find some really neat bird related items! As you can see Saturday’s Festival has something for everyone!

Saturday evening we’ll see a Crane Trivia re-match! The VFW Lodge in Princeton will be the place for this epic brain battle. Will team OMG hold the title for another year? Beforehand, we’ll relax and enjoy pizza and pasta from Christiano’s. Be sure to pre-register for this as space is limited.

Sunday is a day to unwind and relax with an early morning walk in the marsh with leaders Tom Schultz and Joe Duff. Again, space is limited so be sure to pre-register. Psst, a special treat will be served up in the blind!

Choose one of three available voyageur canoe trips along the Fox River. This hand-built craft is a replica of the French fur trader craft used along the historic water routes that supported settlement of much of Wisconsin. Trips start at 10, noon and 2 pm and last just over an hour. While the canoe holds up to 14 paddlers, it is recommended you pre-register to reserve your seat.

Be sure to reserve your seat on one of three available trips: 10 am, noon and 2 pm.

Be sure to reserve your seat on one of three available trips: 10 am, noon and 2 pm.

CHECK out all the events taking place in and around beautiful Princeton, Wisconsin during the Whooping Crane Festival – September 8 – 11, 2016