OM Aircraft on Display

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is the largest organization for aviation enthusiasts in the world. There are almost a thousand individual chapters of the EAA all over the United States and in many other countries. Each summer, more than a half a million people and 10,000 aircraft gather in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the largest air show on the continent.

The grounds at Wittman Field Airport include space for private aircraft, war birds, antiques, rotor-craft and ultralights. The Concord was there and the new Airbus A380 before it was in service and even Air Force One visits occasionally.

The museum holds the world’s largest private collection of every category of aircraft from home-built’s to the Spirit of St Louis.

And now one of the Operation Migration trikes hangs in the mezzanine. The display is not yet complete. We donated one of Mary O’Brien’s custom made costumes and a helmet so the seat will be occupied and they are working on a flock of Whooping cranes to follow off the wingtip. There will also be a display panel and maybe a video to explain the historic significance of the aircraft.

Joe Duff will be a guest speaker at the EAA Museum’s Aviation Adventure Speaker Series on June 21st and again during the annual airshow in July.

Thanks to Carol and Greg Bielski for sending along the following images taken during their visit to EAA recently.

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Heading North!

Brooke reports the two male Whooping cranes, which wintered at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge lifted off at 12:15 pm and after thermalling to gain altitude, were last seen heading north.

They are cranes 5-12 and 30-16. (aka Henry and Johnny)

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Wading Birds

You’ve no doubt heard us describe cranes as being wading birds… Just what make them, and others wading birds? 

Learn the various identifying features that makes a bird – a wading bird…

Read more  

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Wood Buffalo National Park Under Scrutiny

Concern for the only surviving wild population of Whooping cranes is often brought to attention with worry about their wintering destination in Texas along the Gulf Coast but recent reports are warning of dangers in their nesting grounds as well.  We must be ever vigilant to safeguard both areas.

Read more…

Salt River in Wood Buffalo National Park

 

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Poop Samples

They say that we are what we eat…

Poop sample of Whooping crane #5-12 (aka Henry).

If that were true, Henry (#5-12) would be a Periwinkle!

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Evil Twins

Science long ago discovered that each of us has an “Evil Twin”… someone who looks exactly like we do but does things we would never even think of doing… like exaggerating our past achievements and net worth, forgetting the birthdays of our significant others or failing to bag up our dog’s poop in the park when no one is looking. The really Bad Things! But despite years of effort and countless millions of dollars, scientists have never been able to prove the existence of a “Whooper Evil Twin.”

So last week, we drove over to nearby Betterhaf University and borrowed their famous “Evil Twin Cam”… the very same camera that took those now famous pictures of Big Foot, the UFO and the Loch Ness Monster… and we deployed it in the St Marks pen. Then we crossed our fingers… and waited.

Yesterday morning, under the cover of darkness, we retrieved the camera and scurried back to the blind. Our fingers trembled with anticipation as they extracted the photo chip, plugged it into the wide screen TV which proudly hangs on one wall of the blind and scrolled through the five gazillion pictures. Then… suddenly… the distant pop of a Champaign cork echoed from the marsh… followed by the quiet voice of Humphrey Bogart, “Here’s looking at you, kid” as Johnny and his “Evil Twin” magically appeared before our very eyes.

See for yourself!

Whooping crane 30-16 (aka Johnny) and his “evil twin”

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The Last Living Dinosaurs

Take a look at the amazing art and architecture of a whooping crane foot. 

Click image to enlarge

This image certainly illustrates that they are, in fact, the last living dinosaurs.

We need to save them… We hope you’ll help.

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Understanding the Ecological Trap

If you are a nature lover you probably love birds too and enjoy watching them. Every geographical area has so many varied and interesting types of birds that are native to your area. Many of us put out bird feeders to attract them to our yard. I have spent many hours gazing out my front window watching the blue Jays, cardinals, sparrows, juncos, finches and doves as they fly to and fro the feeder and the trees and back again. Or scrounging the ground for seeds that have fallen.

Photo: M. Danilko

I love to observe their behavior and watch which birds are the most aggressive and who will easily give way to another bird. I’d always assumed that size was a determining factor but soon learned through observation that is not always the case. 

In my effort to draw birds to my yard, I have so far, only experimented with various types of feeders and platforms and thistle socks using a variety of seeds. I’ve often thought about providing a bird house or nesting box for them. I started to do some research on the internet and came across an article titled “Understanding the Ecological Trap.” I soon learned that erecting just any old nesting box is not necessarily the right thing to do. In our effort to ‘help’ the birds we can actually create an ecological trap by attracting specific birds to an urban area but by not having the proper available resources for them to survive and flourish, we thereby create an ‘attractive sink’. While our good intention was to foster a source population, in which the bird population is stable or thriving we may have inadvertently done the opposite. 

I assumed that birds would just naturally choose an area to nest that was suitable for them, not realizing that we can influence their decisions to their detriment. 

An article I found on the internet from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – Nest Watch explains the ecological trap and writes about an experiment done in the UK with Great Tits proving that birds won’t instinctively choose a nesting place based on the proper habitat for their survivability. 

Great Tit. Source: Wikimedia Commons

This article proved to me once again that as human’s we must always be cognizant that our good intentions to help the natural world flourish aren’t always what we think they are.  In the meantime, I have decided that I do not have enough information yet to choose a bird house or nesting box without doing some more research. 

Read more…

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Cranes NEED Wetlands…

And wetlands NEED cranes…

Now you can sport a cool T-shirt or hoodie to support both! 

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.

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Become a Whooping Crane Guardian Today!

Now is the perfect time to pledge your support with a monthly contribution for Whooping Crane conservation!

Monthly donations can be processed more efficiently than single or one-time gifts, resulting in a higher percentage of your gift being directed to our work. It also allows us to better budget our resources if we know what our monthly revenue will be ahead of time. 

At any time, you can increase, decrease, pause or stop your support, all at your convenience simply by logging into your account.

Your monthly gift will help ensure that we are able to continue our work to safeguard Whooping cranes and continue our education and outreach efforts through our IN The Field blog.

When you become a NEW monthly donor, OR increase your current monthly donation amount, you will receive a special hand-folded origami crane made by Mako Pellerin.

Mako has very graciously offered to create a limited number of beaded hanging origami cranes made from the paper used to create last year’s GIANT origami crane, which greeted Whooping Crane Festival attendees in Wisconsin.Students from the Princeton School – along with Mako, very carefully folded the origami crane pictured above, and which boasted a wingspan of more than 30 feet and stood close to 10 feet tall!

Mako saved some of the paper from that special crane to create these smaller origami “off-spring” cranes for you!

In Japanese culture, the crane is a mystical creature and is believed to live for a thousand years. Cranes represent good fortune and longevity and are referred to as the “bird of happiness.”

We hope this very special origami crane will bring you all of these qualities… In addition to your special origami crane, we’ll also send you an instruction sheet for folding more origami cranes!

When you become a monthly supporter you help to provide OM with a reliable, low-cost stream of revenue that sustains our ongoing work and allows us to better forecast for budgeting purposes.

It’s super easy to join and you can contribute any amount you like on a monthly basis: $
10, $15, $25, $50 – Every gift helps! Visit this link to learn more or to enroll today!

If you’re already a monthly supporter (thank you!) and would like to increase or change your gift, don’t forget you can login to your personal account at any time to do so using this link: LOGIN 

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Do Birds Play?

If you have either a dog or cat, you know they like to play.

Throw a ball for a dog and most will chase after it. Some even bring it back for more. Toss a crumpled up piece of paper for your cat and watch as it hunts it down and smacks it across the floor. 

But what about birds?  Do they play? 

Watch this compilation of videos from BirdNote and see what you think.

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Whooping Crane #5-01 – His Love Story

Who doesn’t love a good romance story? Crane #5-01 from our very first class of Whooping cranes is a prime example of the ultimate love story; from tragedy to a happy ending.

He seems to be a bird that needs the company of a female. Some guys are destined to stay single but others just seem to pick up a gal one after another.

Early in his life, he hooked up with #4-02 in the spring of 2003. They travelled together from Florida to Wisconsin and back for 4 years until the untimely death of #4-02 in January of 2007. He must have been lonely as he started to spend time at Chassahowitzka pensite, seemingly keeping a watchful eye on the Class of 2006. That is until the storm of February 2nd took their lives.

He kept dropping in to visit Peepers a captive female at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, who incidentally already had a partner already, Rocky. Doesn’t it make you wonder how he even found her in the first place?

He was captured and held in a pen until the team could figure out what to do with lonely male. Near the end of February he was released at Paynes Prairie with several other Whooping cranes. Just to be on the safe side the two birds at Homosassa State Park were removed from open display in case he decided to fly over there for a visit. He made his way back to Wisconsin in the spring.

The following winter he stopped in to say “hi” to Peepers at Homosassa. This time however, trackers decided to move him to Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, Tennessee where there were lots of unattached females to choose from. While he did strike up a friendship with #20-04, it wasn’t a lasting relationship. The typical, ‘it’s me, not you story’ with stories of his heart always returning to Peepers. However, back in Wisconsin he did find a new love; #1-05.

He must have told #1-05 about the irresistible Peepers because when they flew to Florida, he took her to meet Peepers. Trackers now captured not only #5-01 but #1-05 as well and took them both to Alachua County and released them together to only have them return to Homosassa a few days later. This time trackers took them to Meigs County, Tennessee; far away from Peepers.

He returned to Wisconsin with #1-05 and they tried to start a family but their nest failed before the eggs hatched. Obviously there was trouble in their relationship and they tried a separation, but after a brief fling with #16-03, #1-05 missed him so much she went back to him in October. They decided to give it another go and flew first to Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge for a six week stay and then moved on to Florida. Not sure whose idea it was to go to Florida but that turned out to be a bad decision because after all the hard work they put into repairing their relationship #1-05 was predated by a bobcat. This guy just can’t catch a break.

He spent some time in the company of #14-09 during the summer but it wasn’t a relationship that was to last. Maybe after hearing his life story #14-09 decided she had better stay away from him. In the fall he moved on to Florida all by himself. Being single again, and in Florida… guess who he decided to pay a visit to? PEEPERS!

He declared his everlasting love to her and finally the trackers decided they just couldn’t keep these two apart any longer. The decision was made to let him stay with Peepers at Homosassa. He was finally allowed to drop his goofy number and was given a “real” name – Levi (501 Levi jeans?).

(Above clip shows the two in their enclosure. Credit: J. Bellemer)

As we all know, threes a crowd, so Rocky was removed from the enclosure. Levi is now with his real true love, Peepers and they are living happily ever after. Rocky was placed at the National Zoo near Washington DC.

Like this love story? Why not get your very own #5-01 Moppet? For a limited time, these hand-crafted keepsakes made by Mary O’Brien from old costumes worn by our team are available at just $100.

Get yours soon before they’re all gone!

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About Henry

“So… Brooke.  Who’s your favorite bird?”

“Well, Jimmy,that’s a little like asking a parent which child is their favorite. But since you asked, I’d have to say… it’s Henry (5-12)”

“Why Henry?”

“Well, Jimmy… that’s a long story.”

And it is. But unlike most stories, this one didn’t start at the beginning. It wasn’t a … “When he first popped out of the egg, he looked up at me and it was love at first sight” or “When he hatched, he was blind, crippled and barely able to breathe, but through sheer force of will he overcame it all… and whenever he flew, the sound of a Disney movie soundtrack filled the sky… as the movie credits with the names of all the WCEP partners scrolled down from the clouds.”

For me, the real story of Henry began one Christmas Eve at the St Marks pen back in 2014. As I watched from the blind, Henry and his best friend and 2012 classmate, 4-12, were casually strolling shoulder to shoulder across the pen while the sound of Christmas Carols drifted peacefully across the marsh, carrying their message of peace and good will towards… whoopers. They were the best of friends and had been almost inseparable for more than two years.

Male Whooping cranes 4-12 and 5-12. Photo: B. Pennypacker

Male Whooping cranes 4-12 and 5-12. Photo: B. Pennypacker

And then it happened.  Without warning, 4-12 suddenly exploded into a mad frenzy of hostility and rage as his Dr. Jeckle turned into Mr. Hyde and he began beating hell out of his faithful friend, Henry. It was “shock and awe”, as the Class of 2014 chicks, #4-13 and I looked on in disbelief! Seconds later, Henry was running, then flying for his life with 4-12 in savage pursuit, doing his best impression of Charles Manson. A Christmas Coup had replaced Christmas Cheer as 4-12 returned to the pen victorious and ascended the thrown as sole ruler of the Kingdom.

Poor Henry hid in the marsh, licking his wound… broken and without hope, as darkness fell and the “wild things” began their approach. Sad and depressed, he believed this was final proof of the Third Law of Whooper Physics…“Life’s just a big whooper poop sandwich… and every day’s another bite.”  But just then, as if in a dream, the spirit of the salt marsh spoke… quiet and reassuring, “Luke… ah, Henry. May the Force be with you.”

And it was, thanks to an intervention by his new friends, the marsh creatures. Soon, Henry was happily roosting in the creek at night with the egrets and spending his days working the sandflats for periwinkles with the ibis. Even the great blue herons took him under their collective wing and taught him the art of beak archery… the patient and stealthy stalk, the blinding flash of the beak, followed by the long, hard swallow as small edibles of every description made their way down his throat. Then it was the clapper rails’ turn. They taught him the sound of a bobcat’s approach and the coyote’s presence and where the gators were likely to wait in ambush. In the days and weeks that followed, Henry served his apprenticeship well. He became, “Survivor Whooper.”

Meanwhile, the King (4-12) ruled his Kingdom of the Pen with stern benevolence, never forgetting for a minute the peripheral presence of his old friend, Henry. And every evening, just before roost, he would stand like a lone sentinel, weather-vaned in Henry’s unseen direction, ready to defend a possible last minute Henry assault while his subjects, the chicks, looked on. Little did he know then that in another two years, “the worm would turn” and the Kingdom would no longer be his.  It would belong to Henry and his apprentice, Johnny (30-16). Thus… proving that the world belongs to those who wait.

…But that’s a story for another time.

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Interesting Facts About Spring Migration

Typically spring migration occurs as a mass movement and takes place over a shorter time period than fall migration. Birds are anxious to get back to their summer nesting grounds and get the breeding/nesting process underway. 

This is the time of year when bird’s feathers are most vibrant in order to attract a mate.

Migration comes from the Latin word migratus meaning “to change” referring to how birds change geographical locations twice a year.

We traditionally think of migration occurring in the spring and fall and while a vast majority of birds do migrate during this time period, birds around the world are actually migrating 365 days a year.

A one way migration can be as short as a few days to a few weeks or even up to 4 months depending in the species and distance travelled, but birds who get a late start travel faster than those who started earlier. 

Songbirds typically travel at night so as to avoid predators during the day. Plus cooler, calmer air makes their journey more comfortable. They use stars to navigate.

Whooping cranes like to soar during the day travelling on solar-heated thermals.

Birds, who migrate across oceans, can travel for more than 100 hours at a time. Some have even been known to take respite on ships at sea. When they reach land a phenomenon, known as fallout, happens.  Exhausted from their long journey mass numbers will congregate as soon as they reach the closest land source. The Texas Gulf Coast is a great place to witness this; viewing the birds who have traveled from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Migrating birds can travel from 15 to 50 miles per hour. Most birds fly less than 2,000 feet but the bar-headed goose holds the record for the highest migration at 30,000 feet. That’s getting close to where airplanes fly!

The Arctic tern has earned the record for longest migration of any bird with a round trip of 22,000 miles!

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Become a Crane Guardian with a Monthly Gift

Now is the perfect time to pledge your support with a monthly contribution for Whooping Crane conservation!

Monthly donations can be processed more efficiently than single or one-time gifts, resulting in a higher percentage of your gift being directed to our work. It also allows us to better budget our resources if we know what our monthly revenue will be ahead of time. 

At any time, you can increase, decrease, pause or stop your support, all at your convenience simply by logging into your account.

Your monthly gift will help ensure that we are able to continue our work to safeguard Whooping cranes and continue our education and outreach efforts through our IN The Field blog.

When you become a NEW monthly donor, OR increase your current monthly donation amount, you will receive a special hand-folded origami crane made by Mako Pellerin.

Mako has very graciously offered to create a limited number of beaded hanging origami cranes made from the paper used to create last year’s GIANT origami crane, which greeted Whooping Crane Festival attendees in Wisconsin.Students from the Princeton School – along with Mako, very carefully folded the origami crane pictured above, and which boasted a wingspan of more than 30 feet and stood close to 10 feet tall!

Mako saved some of the paper from that special crane to create these smaller origami “off-spring” cranes for you!

In Japanese culture, the crane is a mystical creature and is believed to live for a thousand years. Cranes represent good fortune and longevity and are referred to as the “bird of happiness.”

We hope this very special origami crane will bring you all of these qualities… In addition to your special origami crane, we’ll also send you an instruction sheet for folding more origami cranes!

When you become a monthly supporter you help to provide OM with a reliable, low-cost stream of revenue that sustains our ongoing work and allows us to better forecast for budgeting purposes.

It’s super easy to join and you can contribute any amount you like on a monthly basis: $
10, $15, $25, $50 – Every gift helps! Visit this link to learn more or to enroll today!

If you’re already a monthly supporter (thank you!) and would like to increase or change your gift, don’t forget you can login to your personal account at any time to do so using this link: LOGIN 

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