Online Auction!

Our annual online auction is now LIVE and ready for viewing and bidding!

Just click this Facebook link to jump over to the auction album.

Bidding is easy – just add a comment with your bid amount on the item you want. Bidding got underway Sept. 11 and will continue until Sept. 22nd at noon ET. Winners will be notified via Facebook messenger or email/telephone.

Please note the Facebook timestamp will be used to determine bid-placed time. 

The timestamp accompanies each bid and is down to the minute. To determine seconds, bids are placed chronologically. If 3 bids are placed at the same hour/min, the first of the 3 is the earliest.

Each item has a minimum bid, which has been determined to be the USPS mailing/packaging costs to ship the item to the winning bidder. All net proceeds will cover Operation Migration expenses incurred in 2018. 

Payments can be made via credit card or check made payable to Operation Migration once you have been notified you are the winning bidder. Your item will be shipped once payment is received.

Non-facebook users can view all items via this link but to place a bid, you will have to create a Facebook account. 

Preview of just a few of the items available.

It’s AUCTION Time!

Our annual online auction is now LIVE and ready for viewing and bidding!

Just click this Facebook link to jump over to the auction album.

Bidding is easy – just add a comment with your bid amount on the item you want. Bidding will run from Sept. 11 to Sept. 22nd at noon ET. Winners will be notified via Facebook messenger or email/telephone.

Please note the Facebook timestamp will be used to determine bid-placed time. 

The timestamp accompanies each bid and is down to the minute. To determine seconds, bids are placed chronologically. If 3 bids are placed at the same hour/min, the first of the 3 is the earliest.

Each item has a minimum bid, which has been determined to be the USPS mailing/packaging costs to ship the item to the winning bidder. All net proceeds will cover Operation Migration expenses incurred in 2018. 

Payments can be made via credit card or check made payable to Operation Migration once you have been notified you are the winning bidder. Your item will be shipped once payment is received.

Non-facebook users can view all items via this link but to place a bid, you will have to create a Facebook account. 

Preview of just a few of the items available.

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Bird House RAFFLE!

For the past couple of years, a very generous, local resident has made birdhouses for our staff to create our own masterpieces from.

This has become a popular fundraiser for Operation Migration and we are forever grateful to Cal Holland for making this opportunity available to us. 

Once again our staff has created some amazing bird houses and you will have the opportunity to own one or more. Bird houses, designed by Colleen Chase, Bev Paulan & Brooke Pennypacker, Chris Danilko, Jo-Anne Bellemer and Heather Ray will be available in our Facebook auction, which gets underway TODAY and runs to September 22nd. 

You’ll notice there is one artists name missing from the list above, and that would be Joe Duff. Joe went way above and beyond this year with his design and we want to make certain everyone has an opportunity to take it home. 

Here is Joe’s incredible bird house. Get your tickets today!

We’re running a raffle, which will be held both at the Princeton Whooping Crane Festival, which gets underway this evening and continues all weekend, and online. People can purchase tickets in person, OR through our website. Raffle tickets are sold in sets of 5 for $5.

All tickets will be combined and a winning name will be drawn October 1st and the winner will be notified by email/telephone before your masterpiece is shipped to them.

Get your RAFFLE TICKETS SOON!

 

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Glass Blowing Demonstration

One of the events we added to this year’s festival line-up was a glass blowing demonstration by local artist Wes Hunting. 

Wes, and his son Wes Jr. create stunning, one-of-a-kind pieces that are incredibly beautiful.

To learn more about them, please have a look at their website and this documentary video: http://weshuntingglass.com/documentary/ OR if you’re in the area, visit their gallery in downtown Princeton.

Here are a couple photos of the piece they made while we were there Sunday morning. Scroll down to see the finished product, which had to cool overnight before revealing its true beauty.

It was fascinating to watch the entire process from start-to-finish.

Almost finished! Wes Jr. is in position to catch the vessel when his Dad cuts it loose from the metal rod.

Ta Da! Isn’t it stunning?

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Water, Water Everywhere!

Wisconsin received more than its fair share of rain in late August and early September and the evidence can be seen in Princeton, and surrounding areas.

Approximately 10 inches of water covers White River Rd. in numerous places.

In Princeton, the Fox River is encroaching onto some roads and into businesses and homes on the main street.

 The good news is there is no significant rainfall in the foreseeable forecast. 

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Wood Buffalo National Park

The numbers are in. This August, 24 whooping crane fledglings were counted in and around Wood Buffalo National Park.

Rhona Kindopp, manager of resource conservation with Parks Canada in Fort Smith, said while two dozen fledglings is a low number, “it’s still within the natural range of variation that we would expect from this species.”

READ more

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UNIQUE Bird House Raffle!

For the past couple of years, a very generous, local resident has made birdhouses for our staff to create our own masterpieces from.

This has become a popular fundraiser for Operation Migration and we are forever grateful to Cal Holland for making this opportunity available to us. 

Once again our staff has created some amazing bird houses and you will have the opportunity to own one or more. Bird houses, designed by Colleen Chase, Bev Paulan & Brooke Pennypacker, Chris Danilko, Jo-Anne Bellemer and Heather Ray will be available in our Facebook auction, which gets underway September 11 and runs to September 22nd. 

You’ll notice there is one artists name missing from the list above, and that would be Joe Duff. Joe went way above and beyond this year with his design and we want to make certain everyone has an opportunity to take it home. 

Here is Joe’s incredible bird house. Get your tickets today!

We’re running a raffle, which will be held both at the Princeton Whooping Crane Festival, which gets underway this evening and continues all weekend, and online. People can purchase tickets in person, OR through our website. Raffle tickets are sold in sets of 5 for $5.

All tickets will be combined and a winning name will be drawn October 1st and the winner will be notified by email/telephone before your masterpiece is shipped to them.

Get your RAFFLE TICKETS SOON!

 

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It’s EMP Update Time!

Whooping Crane Update – September 4, 2018 

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month another chick has fledged, and we’ve released our first Whooping Cranes of the year. 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 100 (46 F, 51 M, 3 U). This does not include wild-hatched chicks that have not yet fledged, but does include fledged wild-hatched chicks and the family group released at Horicon NWR. As of 1 September, at least 79 Whooping Cranes are in Wisconsin, 3 in Michigan, possibly 3 in Illinois, and 3 in Minnesota. The remaining birds’ locations have not been confirmed in the last month or two. See maps below.

Nesting

As of 4 September, we have had at least ten chicks hatch in Wisconsin, five of which are still alive, and at least two of which have fledged. Chicks in bold are currently alive.

W1_18 and W2_18 hatched to parents 12-11 and 5-11 in Juneau Co, WI. W1-18 fledged in late July, and is still in Juneau Co.

W3_18 (F) and W4_18 hatched to parents 24-09 and 42-09 in Adams Co, WI. W3-18 is currently alive and with its parents and has been banded. W3-18 fledged sometime in August.

W6_18 is still alive and with its parents 1-04 and 16-07 in Juneau Co, WI. W6-18 has been banded.

W7_18 and W8_18 hatched to parents 9-03 and 3-04 in Juneau Co. W7_18 is still alive.

W9_18 hatched to parents 14-08 and 24-08 in Juneau Co, and is still alive. We have seen 24_08 alone with the chick for most of July and August. W9-18 has been banded.

W10_18 hatched to parents 4-08 and 23-10 in Juneau Co, but died in early August. 

2018 Releases

In 2015, 16_11 (M) nested with a Sandhill Crane at Horicon NWR in Dodge Co, WI. He was captured in spring 2016 and brought to a captive center in Florida, White Oak Conservation, with a captive female, 18_12 (Hemlock). 18_12 was slated to be released with the 2012 DAR cohort at Horicon, but had a health issue that is now resolved. 16_11 and 18_12 paired in captivity, nested in 2018, and laid two eggs which both hatched. On 24 August, Windway Capital Corp. flew the four Whooping Cranes from Florida to Wisconsin. They were all released at Horicon NWR on 25 August near 16_11’s territory.

adults 16-11 and 18-12 with twins 73-18 and 74-18. Photo: International Crane Foundation

As of 4 September, 16_11 (M) and 73_18 (F) are associating and 18_12 (F) and 74_18 (M) are associating. The two groups are not far from each other. Since release they have explored more of the marsh, have roosted in appropriate habitat, and have made it through some severe storms in the area.  

2017 Wild-hatched chicks

W3_17 (F) is still in Adams Co, WI, but is no longer with 39_16.

W7_17 (F) is still alone in Wright Co, MN.

Parent-Reared 2017 Cohort

19_17 (M) and 25_17 (M) are still in Scott, Carver, or Hennepin Co, MN.

28_17 (M) was last seen in Marquette Co, WI.

24_17 (M) is in Rock Co, WI.

72_17 (M) is still in Ingham Co, MI.

38_17 (F) is still in Dodge Co, WI, where she was released in the fall. She has met up with 63-15 (M).

39_17 (F) is still in Outagamie Co, WI.

Costume-Reared 2017 Cohort

7_17 (F) is still with 4_14 (M) in Green Lake Co.

3_17 (M) was recently sighted in Green Lake Co, WI with two other adults 30_16 (M) and 11_15 (M).

4_17 (M) and 6_17 (F) are still in Brown Co, WI.

1_17 (M), 2_17 (F), and 8_17 (F) have split up and 1_17 and 2_17 are currently in Winnebago Co, IL. 8_17 was last seen in Sangamon Co, IL, but her whereabouts are now unknown.

Mortality

The carcass of 71-16 (F) was collected 31 August but she had been dead for a while. She was last seen in late March in the same area. Cause of death is unknown.

18_11 (M), 24_13 (M), 26_09 (F), 10_10 (F), 17_07 (F) have not been seen in over one year, are now assumed to be dead, and have been removed from the population totals above.

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Whooping Crane Festival – REGISTER NOW

The festival is this weekend!

And it will be OUR final festival so we’d love for you to join us to help celebrate the Whooping cranes in this area. 

It takes place the second weekend in September with activities getting underway Friday, Sept. 7th with a guided tour of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Museum where one of our ultralights is now on display!

Friday evening the festival kick-off dinner gets underway at 6pm at the American Legion Post 306 in Green Lake, Wisconsin. We’ll have a fantastic buffet dinner, followed by a presentation by Operation Migration’s CEO Joe Duff and Associate Professor Misty McPhee. Advance reservations are required!

Join us for the kick-off dinner at American Legion Post 306 in Green Lake, WI.

Saturday, Sept. 8th 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!

We have a fabulous speakers line-up this year for the adults, 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 silent auction items lining the school hallways! (Winning bids will be announced at 2:30pm).

The Vendors Marketplace will open at 8am and what a great opportunity to support local artisans and get your holiday shopping started! If you’re a vendor and would like to reserve a booth, we still have a few spaces left but you had better hurry. Please email: cranefestival@operationmigration.org

Saturday evening we’ll see a Crane Trivia re-match! The VFW Lodge in Princeton will be the place for this epic brain battle. Beforehand, we’ll relax and enjoy pizza, pasta and salad from Christiano’s.

Be sure to pre-register for this as space is limited.

CHECK out all the events taking place in and around beautiful Princeton, Wisconsin during the Whooping Crane Festival – September 7 – 9, 2018 – we hope to see you there!

My Time at OM

I have always loved nature and wildlife from the time I was little. As I grew older, I also became interested in conservation and the environment. 

As a child, one of my idols was Doris Day and I loved to hear her sing Que será, será (Whatever will be, will be). Maybe that was the influence to my life-long conviction to just sit back and let the universe bring whatever it will my way. Which is how I ended up working with Operation Migration.

At the same time that I had my hours significantly reduced, the Board gave permission for Heather to hire some help as Operation Migration was really starting to take off; no pun intended. At the right time and the right place the universe had brought to me something very special and rewarding.

Operation Migration had already finished their year of ‘practicing’ with Sandhills and were officially working with Whooping cranes when I came along in 2001. Having moved to the area 18 years previously, I was familiar with Bill Lishman, Joe Duff and the movie Fly Away Home. In fact my son was in the same class as Bill’s daughter. As I was volunteering in their class one day, helping with an art project, making fridge magnets, I remember Carmen sighing, “I’ll make one but I don’t have a fridge to put it on!” By this time, Bill had built his underground house and had an unusual fridge that, with the push of a button, rose up out of the counter top. Certainly NOT a traditional fridge.

I’d witness either Joe or Bill flying over my house with geese trailing behind. Joe commented once, that he wondered if those of us on the ground could hear him swearing at the geese as they played out their antics. Joe, no we couldn’t hear you, just the sound of engine and the honking was all we could hear. But it would have been funny if we could have. 

That first year with Operation Migration was a whirl wind for me and a learn-by-doing experience.  After a short training period, Heather was off with the migration and I was on my own for the next couple of months. Somehow, I managed to survive and kept things running while the team was gone. The work OM does is very cyclical and it wasn’t until one full year later that I felt like I understood the rhythm of OM and could confidently speak about our work. As the years rolled along, OM became bigger and more well-known; technology changed as well as various rules and regulations. People within the organization and partnership came and went; we moved our office twice. As the migrations started to become longer I began to feel like the lonely “Maytag repairman”. However, throughout it all, I was very proud to be working for an organization that was doing trail blazing work and saving an endangered species. How exciting is that! 

Over the years I have had many lovely conversations with “Craniacs” and through Facebook have made some life-long friends that otherwise I would never have had the opportunity to know. Twice, I was fortunate to travel to Necedah and got to witness what everyone was getting so teary eyed over. Watching the birds fly with the ultralight on a cold, crisp morning is a memory that is forever etched in my mind’s eye. Meeting another childhood idol, Jane Goodall, was icing on the cake. To say that I have been blessed is an understatement.

I cannot think of another group of people who have been as dedicated to a cause as this one.  What I can tell you for a fact, is that for Operation Migration, every decision or problem that needed to be overcome always boiled down to ‘what’s best for the birds’. And secondly, our responsibility to our generous donors.

I hope, with all my heart and soul that these birds will continue to flourish and spread across the landscape of eastern North America. May the universe be kind to them!

As for me? I don’t know yet. Que Sera, Sera…Whatever will be, will be.

I send all of you tons of hugs and love,

Chris

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Operation Migration Resigns from WCEP and Dissolves Organization

Operation Migration took flight 25 years ago when two artists-turned-aviators developed a method of teaching birds a new migratory route. The innovative approach helped stabilize the dwindling population of the magnificent Whooping crane.

Bill Lishman and Joe Duff developed the aircraft-guided migration method into an effective means of reintroducing endangered Whooping cranes into an area they had not inhabited in over a century.

Our first migration flight leading Whooping cranes occurred in 2001 – shortly after the 9-11 attack on the United States. It was a time when the nation needed an uplifting story; one of ordinary people working to save an endangered, North American species.

For 15 years, Operation Migration pilots and a dedicated ground crew led Whooping cranes on a journey toward survival. During those years, we contributed more than $10 million dollars and covered 17,457 miles with a total of 186 trusting Whooping cranes trailing off our wingtips.

Each of the cranes that survived the winter period in Florida returned north the following spring, and continued to migrate annually thereafter. Gradually, the number of cranes began to increase, giving hope for the species, which in the 1940s numbered only 15.

The aircraft-guided migration method was ended in the fall of 2015 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a document titled “FWS Vision for the Next 5-year Strategic Plan” that claimed the method was “too artificial.” They suggested that cranes raised by our costumed handlers resulted in inattentive parents that did not adequately protect their offspring.

We continued work for another 3 years based upon our belief that the goal of a self-sustaining Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping cranes was attainable. However, with new management directives authorized by the Whooping Crane Recovery Team and implemented by Region 3 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we no longer believe this goal to be achievable.

As a result, we cannot continue, in good faith, to accept contributions or justify assigning our staff and volunteers to carry out the work outlined in the strategic plan imposed on the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

This led us to an extremely difficult decision: The management and Board of Directors are withdrawing Operation Migration from membership and participation in WCEP and dissolving the organization. This decision is heartbreaking for us all but we have exhausted all possible avenues to avoid this outcome.

Supporters from around the world have generously contributed to Operation Migration’s aircraft-guided work, its successful costume-rearing program, and education and research efforts, all of which have contributed to the recovery of Whooping crane. When our work began there were fewer than 500 Whooping cranes in North America. Today, the species total stands at more than 700 – a significant part of the increase is attributable to your help.

While disappointed that we were unable to achieve our long-term goal to establish a self-sustaining Whooping crane population, we take great pride in Operation Migration’s accomplishments, which your support and time helped to make possible:

  • Hundreds of thousands of people are more aware of the plight of Whooping cranes and wetlands thanks to our blog posts for the past 19 years;
  • Our partnership with Journey North, a distance learning program, brought information about Whooping cranes to millions of school-aged children worldwide;
  • We hosted the first-ever LIVE streaming camera featuring wild Whooping cranes; 
  • We raised awareness for the Whooping crane and gained global attention for the efforts to save them through the aircraft-guided program for 15 years. Our work was featured in numerous news stories, documentaries and published in many books and magazines that inspired people to care about, and take action for these vulnerable cranes;
  • The reintroduced Whooping cranes are avoiding humans, selecting proper habitat, pairing with other Whooping cranes and are producing offspring;
  • Aircraft used in our work are now on display at three distinguished locations: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), as reminders that people can take innovative action to help wildlife species in trouble;
  • Operation Migration contributed images to numerous educational textbooks over the past 20 years to help tell the story of Whooping cranes to students of all ages;
  • Our work garnered the attention and support of President Jimmy Carter and noted conservationist Jane Goodall.

We are grateful for the awards we have received over the years, which include:

  • 2002 National Wildlife Federation “Conservation Achievement Award;
  • 2003 Canada Post “Canadian Environmental Award”;
  • 2004 The Whooping Crane Conservation Association “Honor Award”;
  • 2006 American Birding Association, Partners in Flight “Outstanding Contribution to Bird Conservation”;
  • 2009 U.S. Dept. Of The Interior “Partners in Conservation Award”.

So many accomplishments, and all achieved with your help. We want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all Operation Migration members, supporters, volunteers, and staff (past and present).

Your financial and emotional support kept us going more than you will ever know during many stressful and trying periods over the past 18 years of this reintroduction project. You have been like family to us.

There would not be Whooping cranes migrating over eastern North America without your support.

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Let’s Celebrate!

The festival is FAST approaching!

And it will be our final festival so we’d love for you to join us to help celebrate the Whooping cranes in this area. 

It takes place the second weekend in September with activities getting underway Friday, Sept. 7th with a guided tour of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Museum where one of our ultralights is now on display!

Friday evening the festival kick-off dinner gets underway at 6pm at the American Legion Post 306 in Green Lake, Wisconsin. We’ll have a fantastic buffet dinner, followed by a presentation by Operation Migration’s CEO Joe Duff and Associate Professor Misty McPhee. Advance reservations are required!

Join us for the kick-off dinner at American Legion Post 306 in Green Lake, WI.

Saturday, Sept. 8th 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!

We have a fabulous speakers line-up this year for the adults, 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 silent auction items lining the school hallways! (Winning bids will be announced at 2:30pm).

The Vendors Marketplace will open at 8am and what a great opportunity to support local artisans and get your holiday shopping started! If you’re a vendor and would like to reserve a booth, we still have a few spaces left but you had better hurry. Please email: cranefestival@operationmigration.org

Saturday evening we’ll see a Crane Trivia re-match! The VFW Lodge in Princeton will be the place for this epic brain battle. Beforehand, we’ll relax and enjoy pizza, pasta and salad from Christiano’s.

Be sure to pre-register for this as space is limited.

CHECK out all the events taking place in and around beautiful Princeton, Wisconsin during the Whooping Crane Festival – September 7 – 9, 2018 – we hope to see you there!

We are Humbled…

We have received so many incredibly heartfelt and sincere messages since we posted our decision to resign from the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership and to dissolve the organization. It feels almost selfish keeping them all to ourselves so we decided to share some of them with all of you.

Although today’s news is sad, your vision for the future of those magnificent Whooping Cranes was inspirational, practical and on the grandest of scales. To your legion of fans, you will always be airborne with cranes pacing your wings  – migrating with the birds you love. Your tireless dedication to Operation Migration sets the standard for bird preservation efforts everywhere so you have much of which to be proud. 

Your friends,

George Petrides, Sr., and all at the Wild Bird Centers


All, 

We were very saddened by the news that Operation Migration is dissolving. We would like to thank you for your dedication and the awareness of the whooping cranes you have brought to so many people, us included. Your work to help the cranes in the eastern migration route has been amazing and something that we have been following for many years. We had the pleasure of seeing the training flights for the young cranes before they made their journey south. You have inspired us to explore and learn more about birds and to understand the importance of their environment.  We love the whooping cranes and watch for them wherever we go. We are fortunate to have a weekend place near Princeton so keep our eyes open all around the area and are excited when we see the cranes in their favorite field or when traveling down highway 22 on our way home. Our trip to Necedah NWR is always a success when we see the whooping cranes and is especially amazing when we get to see the young fledglings. All of this has been inspired by your team, your enthusiasm and the dedication you have shown for this magnificent bird.   We have followed your blog which has allowed us to keep up on the progress of the eastern population and have really enjoyed your stories and adventures. We will miss having this means to learn and follow the travels of these birds. — Sue and Ben Schwenn, Wisconsin


Hello everybody at Operation Migration,

As a long term supporter of OM, I am very saddened by this news. Thank you for all of the hard work that you have done to support whooping cranes.  I appreciate that this must have been a very difficult decision.  If you truly believe that you cannot support the WCEP’s initiatives, then withdrawing and dissolving the organization is the right thing to do.

I wish you all the best in any future initiatives that you undertake,

Thanks,

Cathy Page, Alberta

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