Cry4 – Bird’s Eye View

European robin

Two recently published studies may have found what allows birds to navigate accurately. It’s a newly discovered eye protein known as Cry4.

This protein is light sensitive and increases during periods of migration, which may allow birds to see the earth’s magnetic field.

The two studies involved Zebra finches and European robins.

Read more…

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The Platte River

Many of our “craniacs” will have no doubt heard of the Platte River in Nebraska and perhaps have even visited the area. It is a powerful and important resource area for the Sandhill cranes, Whoopers and other birds to stop, rest, eat and put on weight before tackling the last of their journey to their breeding grounds in Northern Canada, Alaska and Siberia. It’s one of the last great migrations that can still be viewed in the wild.

Human activity is encroaching on this area like so many others in the world. Dams and water diversions have created a completely different landscape than what was once there, putting much stress on the area to continue to be a safe haven for these migrating birds.

Special care must be taken to ensure the remaining land is preserved.

Read more…

and even more…

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Panda Bears

So you might be wondering, “Why is she talking about panda bears on a Whooping crane website?”

There are a couple of reasons…

First, Operation Migration started out in Canada and eventually expanded to the US as well.

Recently the Toronto Zoo had the honour of hosting two panda bears on loan from China. While in the zoo’s care, a set of panda cubs twins were born. What can be any cuter than a roly-poly, chubby bear cub? As of Friday, March 23rd the family of four travelled to Calgary Zoo, where they will be on display for the remaining five years. It is hoped they will have more cubs while at their facility, as Calgary Zoo is part of a global conservation breeding program.

Which brings me to the connection to Whooping cranes – they are also the only Canadian breeding facility for Whooping cranes at the Devonian Wildlife Conservation Centre which is part of the Calgary Zoo. Many of those eggs have been supplied to WCEP for the eastern migratory population.

Before I began working for Operation Migration the first and maybe only endangered species that would come to mind was the panda, probably due in no small part to the World Wildlife Fund logo. Imagine my disbelief when I learned there were more pandas in the wild than was Whooping cranes. I clearly remember asking Heather, “Why don’t more people know about this?” 2014 figures estimate them around 1,800. When I started here in 2001 we had a sticker on our vehicles that stated “Fewer than 500 Whooping cranes”.

So, if you are looking for a trip to take, why not consider going to the Calgary Zoo where you can see panda bears and Whooping cranes…

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Monthly Update

Eastern Migratory Population, Whooping Crane Update – April 2, 2018 

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month most Whooping Cranes have completed migration! A huge thank-you to the staff of Operation Migration, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Natural Resources, the International Crane Foundation, 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 estimated population size is 103 (48 F, 52 M, 3 U). As of 2 April, at least 35 Whooping Cranes are in Wisconsin, 2 in Michigan, 16 in Illinois, 19 in Indiana, 8 in Kentucky, 3 in Tennessee, 3 in Alabama, and 2 in Florida. Some of these birds have begun migration and have not been reported further north, so these are the last known locations. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month. See maps below.

2017 Wild-hatched chicks

W3-17 (U) is migrated back to Wisconsin with its parents (24-09 and 42-09) and was last seen in Adams Co, WI with 31-16, 29-16, and 39-16. 39-16 has moved to Monroe Co, but we’re not sure if W3-17 and others went with him.

W7-17 (F) is left Morgan Co, AL with her parents (14-08 and 24-08, and was last reported in Edwards Co, IL.

Parent-Reared 2017 Cohort

19-17 (M) and 25-17 (M) are still in Jackson Co, AL likely with adult 37-07 (M).

28-17 (M) left Okeechobee Co, FL, and is in Jackson Co, IN with Sandhill Cranes.

24-17 (M) is still in Randolph Co, IL, however 63-15 has returned to Wisconsin.

72-17 (M) is still in Hendry Co, FL. (Note: as of 4/3/2018, she is in Lake County, FL.)

30-17 (F) left Plaquemines Parish, LA, and is currently in Hickman Co, KY.

38-17 (F) is still in Dodge Co, WI with Sandhill Cranes.

39-17 (F) is in LaPorte Co, IN with Sandhill Cranes.

36-17 (F) left Madison Co, FL and is currently in Gallatin Co, IL.

Costume-Reared 2017 Cohort

3-17 (M) and 7-17 (F) left Morgan Co, AL at Wheeler NWR, and are currently in Webster Co, KY with 69-16.

4-17 (M) and 6-17 (F) left Fulton Co, KY and are currently in Clinton Co, IL.

1-17 (M), 2-17 (F), and 8-17 (F) left Talladega Co, AL and are currently in Lawrence Co, TN.

Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort

29-16 (M) and 39-16 (M) left Dyer Co, TN and were in Adams Co, WI, with 31-16 and W3-17. 39-16 is currently in Monroe Co, WI, but we’re not sure if the other birds moved with him.

30-16 (M) and 5-12 (M) left St. Mark’s NWR in Wakulla Co, FL, and are currently in Saline Co, IL. (Note: it is believed these two resumed migration between 3/29 – 4/1)

31-16 (M) left Weakley Co, TN, and was last seen in Adams Co, WI, with 29-16, W3-17, and 39-16. 39-16 has moved to Monroe Co, but we’re not sure if 31-16 and others went with him.

33-16 (F)’s satellite transmitter is still firing off along the Mississippi River in Clinton Co, IA, however she has not been seen. We suspect she may be dead, but we have not yet removed her from the totals until we can confirm.

69-16 (F) left Wheeler NWR in Morgan Co, AL and is currently in Webster Co, KY with 3-17 and 7-17.

71-16 (F) left Jackson Co, IN, and is currently in Winnebago Co, WI.

Confirmed Whooping Crane locations as of 2 April 2018.

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Nesting Waterbirds

While the following video and article pertain to the Texas coast, its message holds true for any coastal area. 

Shorebirds are nesting and human activity can have a negative effect on them. Whether you’re out for a stroll on the beach to enjoy the scenery or to walk your dog, please be respectful of any nesting birds. 

 

Read more…

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15 Fun Facts About Bird Migration

Typically we think of bird migration taking place in the spring and the fall but did you know there are actually birds migrating 365 days a year? 

Check out these other interesting migration factoids!

North American migration flyways. Source: http://gilligalloubird.com

 

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The “Royal Couple” Hath Returned!

Craniac Rich Smith sent along the following photo yesterday, confirming the presence of Whooping crane pair dubbed the Royal Couple near White River Marsh in Green Lake County, Wisconsin on Friday afternoon.

Cranes 4-12 (M) and 3-14 (F) spent the winter in south Georgia but apparently left in mid-March to begin heading north. 

Welcome home!

The Royal Couple consists of female 3-14 (left) and male 4-12. Photo: Rich Smith

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FINAL DAY!!!

Cranes NEED wetlands – and wetlands NEED cranes…

Now you can sport a cool T-shirt or hoodie to support both! But this design is only available UNTIL TOMORROW.

Check out the latest design from Custom Ink, (which includes a secret message).

There are several T-shirt styles to choose from as well as two color choices for a lightweight hoodie that everyone has loved from our previous campaigns.

Available only for the month of March – they will be shipped directly to you approximately 2 weeks after the close of the campaign.

 

Be sure to order yours before March 31st!

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Why we do what we do

Often supporters are incredulous and amazed at the work we do to save Whooping cranes. The following story says it all, it’s why we do what we do… what could bring more joy than reading this man’s account of a time-honored tradition of watching spring migration of Sandhills and seeing two Whooping cranes among them.

READ more.

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What is Integrated Vegetation Management?

Often the needs of humans collide with the needs of wildlife. For many years we nary gave it a thought as we selfishly stripped away habitat in our never ending quest to make our lives better.

In particular, utility companies often come under fire for cutting away large swaths of land for the right of way for transmission lines.  I’m sure there are not many among us who are willing to live without electricity, so what are we to do when we care about our environment and the various species that live among us. 

Source: http://content.yardmap.org

Integrated Vegetation Management and land stewardship may very well be the answer.  So many species, from plants, to birds, insects, to animals can all benefit from this practice.

Habitat Network has delved into this issue and come up with some very do-able solutions.

Read more  

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The WHAT???

A few days before we left for Costa Rica, I was chatting with Heather and she said, “When you get here we have to go look for the Jabirus!”. “The WHAT???”, I said, thinking she had lost her mind. I did a quick Google and was surprised to see a stork. I jumped back to my chat window and typed “oh wow, a stork!” but it came out “w5o4k” or something like that – in my excitement I had shifted my left hand onto the wrong row of keys. 

Adult Jabiru stork in Costa Rica (photo by Heather using JoBel’s camera)

If you think seeing a picture of a Jabiru on your computer screen is exciting, seeing them in person (in bird?) is 10 times better. 

Our arrival in Costa Rica was delayed one day because of a nor’easter that dropped about 18″ of snow in our area. That gave Heather some time to go scout for the Jabiru based on directions someone had given her. “Go past the dirt road and look for the tree that’s just past the dead frog on the road.” OK, maybe not quite that vague, but keep in mind that there are no addresses in Costa Rica. A lawyer that we met gave us her address as ’50 meters north of the national bank on avenue 5!’ 

Anyway, Heather didn’t find the Jabirus on her scouting mission because she apparently missed the dead frog. The next day, however, we were successful. We went just a little farther down the road and there, up in the tree, was a giant nest with two Jabirus, an adult and one chick! 

The chick must be close to fledging because it was practicing with jumping and flapping (flumping?). Here’s a short video of what we witnessed.

(You may want to let the video render completely and then watch it)

They are very tall; in fact, whereas the Whooping Crane is the tallest bird in North America, the Jabiru is the tallest flying bird in Central and South America. They are not endangered, but there are only about 100 Jabirus in Costa Rica, making them the highlight of our trip! 

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Morning (Whooper) Yoga

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Whooping Cranes 5-12 & 30-16

Last week we told you that Brooke watched these two lift off from St. Marks NWR in Wakulla County, FL and head north.

Late yesterday, we received a public sighting for these two in southern Illinois! 

This means in the 3 days since they left St. Marks, the two cranes covered close to 600 miles. #impressive

If you see a whooping crane be sure to submit your report!

Whooping Crane #30-17

This young female Parent-Reared crane decided to winter about as far south as she possibly could – in Plaquemine Parish, Louisiana.

She is now on her return trip north and is making pretty decent progress. The red line on the following map shows her trip south from Wisconsin and as you can see, she appears to be retracing her route and is currently in southwest Kentucky – about halfway home.

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ONLY 5 DAYS LEFT!

Cranes NEED wetlands – and wetlands NEED cranes…

Now you can sport a cool T-shirt or hoodie to support both! But this design is only available for 5 MORE DAYS!

Check out the latest design from Custom Ink, (which includes a secret message).

There are several T-shirt styles to choose from as well as two color choices for a lightweight hoodie that everyone has loved from our previous campaigns.

Available only for the month of March – they will be shipped directly to you approximately 2 weeks after the close of the campaign.

Be sure to order yours before March 31st!

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