Happy Sunday

Adults 27-14 (F) and 10-11(M) near Grand River Marsh – Two Whooping cranes under the watchful eye of ten Turkey vultures.

Cranes are a symbol of happiness and eternal youth while vultures signify patience and tolerance. We could take lessons from birds

 

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Wild (Crane) Chicks

Guest Author: Doug Pellerin

It’s been a good season for me as I’ve been able to see a good number of adult whooping cranes. But it was so awesome to have the opportunity to see both wild-hatched chicks with their parents.

The one family I knew where it was. That’s 24-09 and 42-09 and chick. The other family I had no idea where they were until I was driving on Saturday and spotted two adult white birds out in a field. I stopped to get a photo when I noticed that there was a chick with them!

Was I ever surprised at my luck to see this family consisting of parents 24-08 and 14-08. It was an amazing and rare experience to be able to photograph two wild chicks in one day.

I’m sure glad I went out that day photographing. It just goes to prove that you never know what you’ll find when out in nature.

Parents 24/42-09 with W3-17 in Adams County, W.

Parents 14/24-08 with W7-17 in Juneau County, WI.

Life in the Slow Lane

Ever since parent-reared Whooping crane #30-17 was released last Thursday, I’ve been assigned to monitor her and record observations about her whereabouts, her behavior, the habitat she’s choosing, who she’s keeping company with, and anything else that seems noteworthy. To do that, I obviously need to situate myself somewhere in her vicinity, preferably with a view. That’s easier said than done!

The marsh is traversed by numerous grassy dikes that I drive on for 2’ish miles to get out near where she was released. Not far you say? Ha! It takes me 30 minutes to travel those 2 miles. The problem is the dikes are full of potholes that you can’t see because the mower leveled the grass off all at the same height. You can’t tell that you are about to send your front tire into a 1 foot hole until your head hits the ceiling in the truck. And that’s only going 7 mph! I quickly learned to reduce my speed to 3-5 mph – it was that or wear Heather’s bicycle helmet.

You know how most cars and trucks will move forward slowly even when you don’t have your foot on the gas pedal? That’s mostly how I had to drive in the marsh for my first 3 days there. The truck does anywhere from 2 to 3 mph at idle, so even if I DO hit a pothole, I don’t bite my tongue off.

I’ve also learned which dikes are smoother than others so I avoid the worst ones whenever possible. By driving round and round on the same dikes trying to triangulate beeps to locate “my bird”, the tires finally tamped down the grass enough so that, for the past couple of days, the potholes are apparent. That has allowed me to speed up considerably – up to 8 mph at times!

Oh! You want to hear about “my bird”, don’t you! Let’s see…

Friday – Whether she was timid or just needed time to recover from HER drive over the bumps, #30-17 did not seem to move around at all on Friday. All my biangulating and triangulating put her beeps pretty much where she walked out of her crate into the marsh. The vegetation is so tall that there was no chance of getting eyes on her. By sunset, when I left, I was pretty concerned that she might not be alive.

Saturday – Upon arrival at sunrise, #30’s beeps put her in the same area, escalating my concern. But, as I proceeded down the “release dike” farther and farther, checking the direction of her transmissions every 100 yards or so, I was surprised when I got beyond her release spot and the beeps were still out in front of me. This was GREAT news – she had MOVED! More beep-tracking seemed to put her out of the marsh where there are some ag fields (where AREN’T there ag fields in Wisconsin?!?!). I knocked at the door of the closest house and the gentleman there was kind enough to drive me in his Polaris to the other end of the fields so I could check beeps there. Nope – not in the ag fields – in the WOODS!

Sunday – Heather came with me to see if together we could locate #30 (with our eyes, not our telemetry receivers). Instead of spending 30 minutes to get into the marsh only to find that she had left the marsh (which would mean another 30 minutes to get back out), we tried listening for her signals on the roads around the marsh. She seemed to be in the same wood lot as the night before. We hiked across the ag fields and then into the woods, using the strength of her beeps to steer us. Both of us feared the worst at this point – cranes don’t usually hang out in this habitat. Suddenly Heather whispered “STOP!”. There, about 30 yards in front of us, right on the edge of the woods and marsh, was an upright #30!

See the bit of white through the branches? Click to enlarge.

My heart flipped – this was my first sight of her since she stepped out of her crate Thursday night! We took a few photos and then backed away to return to the marsh where we could keep an eye on her. We took note that she wasn’t limping and she had spread her wings a few times, so she appeared to be fine. She also tucked her head and took a brief nap. Late in the morning she flew back into the marsh (and out of sight) and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Monday and Tuesday were VERY interesting days, so tune in to my next post for, as Paul Harvey said, “The Rest of the Story”!

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Looks Promising…

Brooke and I went to check the Costume-Reared chicks at daybreak yesterday and at 6:58 all seven arrived at their favorite field. At 7:01, adult cranes 5-12 (Henry) and 30-16 put in an appearance.

Seven Costume-Reared Whooping crane colts and two adult cranes forage in a nearby field. (click to enlarge)

We watched awhile then headed down to look for 28-17, Joe’s elusive Parent-Reared chick, while he babysat the group of seven. They are too close to a busy road for my liking and need a crossing guard.

We did not find 28-17 and after an hour of riding around and listening to static we headed back to White River Marsh.

Joe and Brooke went to the pensite to start the generator, while I nestled down to watch the nine large white birds in the field.

I no sooner got comfy when all of them took off to the west. Henry and 30-16 broke a bit to the north. Then they swerved to the south and climbed higher with the chicks before breaking off again.

At this point they were getting close to the pen and I was hoping Joe and Brooke were looking up. There was no way I was taking my eyes off this show to call one of them! Just then the two adults came back to the chicks and they all circled higher and to the south. The adults called and the chicks peeped.

They landed in a wetland on the other side of the river.

Brooke called a few minutes later to ask if I had seen it, he said they were right over him and Joe!

It was beautiful and impressive and could not help but fill us with hope that Henry will take them south in a few weeks. I am not willing to bet the farm yet but it’s looking possible!

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Crane Spotting

Can you spot the crane in the following image? Sometimes when out tracking, we’re able to detect a beep and then we end up staring at a spot on the landscape, hoping for the briefest sign of movement before you absolutely HAVE TO BLINK.

This is what Jo-Anne and I stared at Sunday for two and a half hours before this young female Whooping crane finally flew out. #goingblind

When you think you’ve found her, click the image to enlarge/reveal.

The Best Laid Plans

Last year I was fortunate enough to monitor the only Parent Reared chick that was properly adopted. There were two pairs of adult Whooping cranes using White River Marsh and we hoped one of them would take number 30-16 under their wing.

Both of those pairs used an open ag field a mile from our pen but they weren’t what you would call close. Unlike Sandhills, Whooping cranes don’t gather together in large social groups. They may use the same habitat and tolerate each other but only if the buffer zones are respected. Prior to selecting mates, they will often form bachelor cohorts so when you see more than a few Whooping cranes together, there’s a good chance that most of them are sub-adults.

We thought the best way to expose little 30-16 to both pairs was to put him in a temporary pen on that favored field and see which one was interested. Turns out neither of them were. Or maybe it turned into a mutually agreed to neutral zone that they all avoided because no one seem to take any interest.

After a couple of days, we released 30-16 closer to the pen and shortly thereafter 3-14 & 4-12 (locally known as the Royal Couple) accepted him. He spent the rest of the fall with them – roosting in safe territory deep in the marsh and foraging in isolated fields.

On the day of the first serious snowfall I watched them head south, all three in perfect order. They wintered in south Georgia and led him back to White River in the spring. He hung around until they chased him off and began to build their first nest. Those familiar will know that they incubated two eggs until the last day before hatch when a coyote took them – live – on camera.

Interestingly enough, that chick is buddies with another male 5-12 (locally known as Uncle Henry). These two are now busy showing the ropes to our Costume-reared cohort.

“Little 30-16” is the second crane from the right – All grown up now. Photo captured last week near the marsh.

It would seem logical to give the Royal Couple another chick this year but things haven’t work out. They don’t use that open field anymore and they roost so far into the marsh that we have no hope of carrying a crate out there. Seems a shame.

When you work with Whooping cranes you soon realize that they don’t follow our plans no matter how carefully conceived.

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Modern Family

Right about now our team would be gathering in Wisconsin and gearing up for the start of the migration, so it’s an interesting exercise to instead be preparing our birds for release.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service directed WCEP to focus on parent-rearing which we have done for the last two seasons. But, just like most things in life, saying and doing are not the same. For one thing, birds in captivity can produce more eggs than they can raise, hence the use of incubators and hand-rearing. In order to parent-rear chicks, adult pairs must stop producing eggs and instead spend all of their time being mom and dad. Consequently, the captive centers can only produce so many parent-reared chicks, and that does not include all of the eggs salvaged from Necedah NWR. 
 

The odds of a chick surviving to breeding age when it was hatched in captivity and released into the wild are slim. In any reintroduction it is important to get the numbers out there because you never know who will be around in five years
 
To offset attrition and keep the numbers up, the Fish and Wildlife Service allowed WCEP to include a small group of costume-reared birds along with the maximum number of parent-reared birds. 
 
But it’s not all about the numbers. Birds parent-reared in captivity and released in the fall are somewhat disadvantaged. First, they learn how to fly in a pen or at least they try. Secondly, they don’t get much time to form a bond with their introduction site and their inclination to come back the following spring is compromised. And finally they don’t have much time to form a bond with the older Whooping cranes whom we hope will lead them south and show them how to survive along the way. Addressing those problems were our three ambitions when we started last spring and, so far, so good. 
 
Brooke and Colleen have been doing a stellar job of caring for these seven callow birds. But, instead of improving their connection to the costumes and the aircraft so they will follow us over 1200 miles, they had to slowly remove themselves and foster independence. 
 
We began by encouraging the chicks to fly. Whooping cranes take eighty to one hundred days to develop the feathers and muscles to fly. But it’s not like a switch that one day gets turned on and they are expert aviators. Learning the subtleties of balance and grace takes time and practice. Inexperienced birds will collide mid-air or even fly into trees. We have seen them try to land downwind which always reminds me of stealing rides on farm wagons when I was a kid. 
 
In my home town farmers would stack bags of seed from the mill high on flatbed trailers pulled by tractors. As they drove slowly through the town we would jump on the back for a free ride. Once they’d get on the back roads though, they would shift into high gear. We were left with a choice of walking back from a farm some miles out in the country or trying to exit a too-fast tractor with too-short legs. We would dangle from the back of the trailer, trying to get our legs going fast enough to match the trailer speed – then let go. It never worked. Birds landing downwind have that same look on their faces when they realize just how fast they are moving. 
 
Our seven costume reared birds are now expert flyers ready for a long migration.
 
Next the birds were introduced to the marsh. We cut wide paths through the tall grass and Brooke used a gas trimmer equipped with a blade to open up two nearby ponds. They were led there every day until the birds would fly on their own, but they wouldn’t stay alone for long. So Brooke or Colleen would hide in a blind while the chicks foraged. Still the bird knew the hiding places and eventually came looking. Brooke put out decoys of an adult bird and a costumed handler, and he would get into the blind before Colleen let them out. Instead of leading them to the pond she would close herself into the pen and finally the chicks would fly to the pond unaware of Brooke’s watchful eye. 
 
Eventually they became more independent and, about that time, 5-12 (“Henry”) and 30-16 (the adopted son of the Royal Couple) began moving around more, a typical fall behavior. Those two males spent most of the summer deep in the marsh but now they often roost in a pond to the southwest of the pen, and our seven increasingly independent birds join them. They spend the nights together and go their separate ways in the morning.

Trailcam image shows the two adults on the right and the juvenile cranes on the left.

Lately that bond has slowly been getting stronger. The more opportunity they have to spend time together, the better the chance the chicks will follow when it’s time to head south. We still have a month or two before that happens so we are letting nature take its course. Brooke and Colleen leave the pen door open and occasionally the chicks will stop in for food, but they are no longer dependent on what we provide. They have roosted out for the last two weeks and now some mornings all nine fly out together.
 
Henry spends his winters in St. Marks NWR and is famous for his attempts to encourage the 2015 cohort to follow him north. Three times he left the pen but came back to try again. He is also a forlorn and rejected male. Three times he has lost his mate to other, more aggressive males.  
 
The “allo-prince”, number 30-16, followed the Royal Couple to Georgia last year in the only successful adoption.
 
Together, Henry and 30-16 are like Oscar and Felix but, hopefully, they will mentor this odd hybrid of costume-reared and adult-bonded chicks. It’s a modern family story. Stay tuned.
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Would You HELP?

We have all watched the nightly news stories showing the devastation caused by hurricane Harvey in Texas. The news focuses on the effects humans have to deal with and shows destroyed homes and communities trying to put their lives back together.

Naturally, our first thoughts were with our friends and colleagues on the coast, but then our concerns turned toward the Whooping cranes. Luckily, the cranes that winter in and around the Aransas National Wildlife Area were still in Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Canada when hurricane Harvey tore through their winter habitat.

In fact, now, a month after the hurricane, some of those cranes are on their way to their winter home – and with a record number of young-of-year!

The massive storm, with 120 mph winds and rainfall measured in feet, is believed to have eroded marshes and coastlines that are home to dozens of species of birds and marine life, including, of course, Whooping cranes.

The water in and around Aransas is a brackish mix of salt water from the Gulf and fresh water from the Guadalupe River. That delicate balance sustains the blue crab population which, along with the pistol shrimp, clams and wolfberries, make up the primary diet of wintering Whooping cranes.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff have yet to determine if the series of fresh water ponds that the Whooping cranes use for drinking are contaminated. Most of that habitat is extremely resilient. Its vegetation evolved to withstand regular floods, but modern floods bring with them another hazard that wasn’t part of their evolution: plastics, tires, human debris, even barrels of oil have been found in critical crane habitat. The solids can be cleaned up eventually but the liquid contaminants take much longer and are far more expensive to remove.

This critical habitat was spared from the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 but those in the Whooping crane world on the Texas coast have always said, “it’s not a matter of IF there’s a chemical spill but rather WHEN…”, and when that does happen, what then will the cranes’ habitat look like?

Storms of increasing intensity and rising sea levels threaten the critical habitat used by Whooping cranes both in Texas and Louisiana where a reintroduced flock of non-migratory Whooping cranes is now up to over fifty birds.

These are the primary reasons Operation Migration remains committed to building the Eastern Migratory Population. IF/WHEN something happens to the wintering habitat used by the only naturally occurring population, it could threaten the existence of the entire species.

The Eastern flock is an insurance policy – when the Eastern Migratory Population began in 2001, it was intended that the cranes would winter in the salt marshes on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Obviously, the birds had other ideas because they now spread out over much of the east – from southern Indiana and south into the Florida panhandle.

That distribution was once considered a shortcoming of this project but it will likely safeguard the population from any one disastrous event – weather or man-made. Perhaps it makes them more adaptable than the natural flock that congregates in a relatively small area of precious habitat with an uncertain future.

This is why we can’t stop until the Eastern flock reaches a self-sustaining level. We need public support and involvement to get the Whooping crane population back to healthy numbers.

Operation Migration receives no government funds and does its work through the support of people who care about cranes and nature, and who do not want to see this species go extinct in our lifetime.

This year we have costume-reared a cohort of seven young Whooping cranes at White River Marsh in Green Lake County, Wisconsin and they are in the process of releasing themselves. In fact, over the past two weeks they have roosted at a nearby pond along with two older Whooping cranes. Here they are on a recent outing when they met up with two Sandhill cranes.

We are participating in and supporting Parent-Reared releases in Wisconsin – this week we will release an additional six young cranes.

In total, this year, we and our partners will have released nineteen young-of-year Whooping cranes into the Eastern flock and we’ll continue to monitor them until they head south in the coming weeks.

Naturally, our work doesn’t come without cost. We are a small non-profit operating on a shoe-string budget.

Our annual Mile-Maker campaign, which ran in conjunction with the ultralight-guided migration flights, generated over $200,000 each year. This is funding we lost when the Fish and Wildlife Service halted those flights.

We still have work to do and we’re asking you to help with a financial contribution. We’re not giving up on the Eastern Population and we hope you’ve not given up on us!

Will you help us safeguard this incredible species? Click here to help.

Or call our office at: 800-675-2618

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Auction Deadline Looming!

This year’s online auction will wrap up this Saturday, October 7th and NOON (Central) so, if you don’t already follow Operation Migration’s Facebook page, it’s time to click FB_like

The minimum bid amount listed on each item in no way reflects the fair market value of that item. Instead, the minimum bid amount was established to cover postage/packaging costs within North America.

To place a bid, just leave a comment on the photo of the item you are bidding on, including the amount of your bid. If you are outbid, you may increase your bid by posting your new bid in another comment.

At the conclusion of the auction, you will be contacted for payment information and, upon receipt of payment, your item will be sent to you. Happy bidding!

ALL funds raised will go to support Operation Migration their work with Whooping cranes in 2017. Here’s just a few of the items available! 

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Whooping Crane Update

October 1, 2017

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month we have begun releasing the parent-reared juveniles. 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 maximum population size is 101 (42 F, 55 M, 4 U). This includes two fledged 2017 wild-hatched chicks (unknown sex), and the six released parent-reared juveniles. As of 1 October, at least 89 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in Wisconsin, 1 in Iowa, 1 in Michigan, and 1 in Kentucky. The remaining birds’ locations have not been reported during September. See maps below.

2017 Wild-hatched chicks
There are currently two wild-hatched chicks alive in Wisconsin, both of which have fledged.

W3_17 is still with its parents in Adams Co, WI.

W7_17 is still with its parents in Juneau Co, WI.

Parent-Reared 2017 Cohort
19_17 (M) and 25_17 (M) were released 14 September in Marathon Co, WI near adults 2_15 (F) and 28_05 (F). 19_17 is often seen associating with the adults, and 25_17 has occasionally been seen with the adults. 19_17 has been flying a bit further out than 25_17, but both have been roosting in the same marsh as the adults.

26_17 (F) and 28_17 (M) were released 18 September in Marquette Co, WI near adults 27_14 (F) and 10_11 (M). 26_17 has been using some of the same fields as the adults and 28_17 has been exploring a much larger area.

24_17 (M) was released 20 September in Dodge Co, WI near adult 66_15 (F). He has been roosting in the same marsh as 66_15 and has begun exploring the surrounding fields, often with Sandhill Cranes.

72_17 (M) was released 26 September in Winnebago Co, WI near adult 71_16 (F). The two have been seen foraging in the same field, but have not yet been regularly associating. 72_17 has been flying around the area and has also been associating with Sandhill Cranes.

Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort
29_16 (M) and 39_16 (M) left Ward County, ND and are currently in Marathon Co, WI.

30_16 (M) is still in Green Lake Co, WI, associating with 5_12 (M). These two have also been seen associating with the captive-reared cohort near the pen at White River Marsh SWA.

31_16 (M) spent all of September in Winnebago and Waushara Counties, WI.

33_16 (F) continues to be in Clinton Co, IA.

69_16 (F) left Jefferson Co, and spent most of September in Dane Co, WI.

70_16 (M) is still in Knox County, KY.

71_16 (F) spent all of September in Winnebago Co, WI. On 26 September, 72_17 was released in the same area as 71_16 (see above).

Mortality
61_15 (F) was found dead on 21 September 2017 in Dodge County, WI. She had likely been dead for a while and the cause of death is unknown. She was last seen in the area on 30 August 2017.

Full extent of Whooping Crane locations as of 1 October 2017.

Zoomed in map of Wisconsin locations of Whooping Cranes as of 1 October 2017.

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Final Shipment From Patuxent

From Dr. Glenn Olsen:

The last whooping cranes going to a release program from Patuxent have now left. We were sad to see them go. We started rearing whooping cranes for release in 1993, first for the Florida project, then for Wisconsin (including all the ultralight birds released in Wisconsin) and also for the past 7 years for the Louisiana release. 

I recently counted up the whooping cranes currently in the different populations in the wild, and based on the numbers supplied by the various folks monitoring the populations, fully 35% of whooping cranes in the wild were captive reared released birds. Looking at theses captive reared birds in the wild, 63% were reared at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. We are going to miss helping everyone out with rearing whooping cranes for release and doing the research required to produce a self-sustaining population. 

Sharon Peregoy and Robert Doyle load the last Whooping Crane onto the Windway aircraft.

Henry’s Pond

“The Loons! The Loons!”

Who can forget that famous line from the 1981 movie, “On Golden Pond”, when Katherin Hepburn announces to Henry Fonda the spring arrival of their resident loons on the lake. If the movie were to be made today here at White River Marsh, it would be titled, “On Henry’s Pond” and Ms. Hepburn’s opening line would be, “The Whoopers! The Whoopers!”

For the last couple of weeks or so, Henry’s Pond has been a destination of choice for our little wanderers. And it’s not just because it was named after my favorite whooper of them all, 5-12, aka. “Henry,” although if you were in the market for a lakefront home and Henry was a realtor, he would definitely be your man… ah, whooper.

The pond forms a perfect little piece of crane heaven only a short flight from the pen. It was Henry’s sanctuary last year for two weeks after Richard, Hillary and I caught him and replaced his dead transmitter. A cruel betrayal, he thought. Everyone needs a place to lick their wounds, so off to the pond he went. And it was the perfect choice. “And it’s spring fed,” a hunter told me. So while the chicks’ other favorite North Pond dries to mud, Henry’s Pond remains wet and happy. We installed a crane decoy up in the center of the pond as a bulls-eye and the rest is history.

Then, to make things even more exciting, Henry and his pal, 30-16, changed their normal roosting site from a mile or so away to where else? Henry’s Pond. It wasn’t exactly “Old Home Week” because young whoopers don’t usually welcome older whoopers with open… ah, wings.

“Henry” (5-12) & his little buddy “Seemore” (30-16) are likely wondering where all these young Whoopers chicks came from.

Still, hope springs eternal. As time goes on and nights turn into weeks, our hope is that a bond will form between young and old and Henry will teach them a few survival skills and possibly lead them south to his wintering grounds at St Marks sometime in November. Time will tell.

“So… where is Henry’s Pond …. and how can I buy property there? My husband and I plan to retire soon and Henry’s Pond sounds like just the place!”

“Hang on one minute, please, and I’ll get him for you.”

“Henry!”

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Armageddon

Saturday morning arrived in the marsh with a bang.. literally. It was the 1st day of Teal hunting.

I left camp earlier than usual, figuring the chicks would come off roost earlier than normal. I wanted to get the door to the pen open so they would have a safe haven from all the commotion.

Joe was opening the gate as I got there. He was going out to start the generator and sweet talk the Beast. As we put our costumes on in the parking lot he said to me “It sounds like WW3 out here”! at the same time I said to him “It sounds like Armageddon out there”!

We walked down to the runway and my heart sunk – five birds. Crane’s 2-17 and 3-17 were AWOL. The others were happy to see me, they visibly jumped with each blast and were happy to wander into the pen. Joe went to work on the generator and I did chores.

As I was finishing, he pointed, and there was #3-17 (my favorite!) Yay!

We left six birds nervously wandering and went back to the van to listen for #2. No beeps. Oh dear. Not time to panic yet but, oh dear, this is not usual behavior.

He had to go back to kick the Beast one more time so I took a pumpkin down to put in the wet pen to distract while the hunters were out in full force. As he stood waiting for me to come out of the pen I saw him wave to get my attention. There stood our little flouter! She had just flown in. A later GSM hit showed 2-17 had ventured across the street about a mile to the west.

Our guess is the birds were probably startled off roost by a hunter. Number’s 1, 4, 6, 7 & 8 flew to the runway and 2 and 3 went the other direction. 3-17 headed for home about 20 minutes before wussy 2-17 did!

So much for the tough guy act buddy! We have your number!

Here is a picture taken Saturday morning, the sun coming up through the fog is as dramatic as the noise from the gunfire!

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Place Your Bids!

This year’s online auction is well underway, so, if you don’t already follow Operation Migration’s Facebook page, it’s time to click FB_like

The auction will run until NOON, Central time on Saturday, October 7th.

The minimum bid amount listed on each item in no way reflects the fair market value of that item. Instead, the minimum bid amount was established to cover postage/packaging costs within North America.

To place a bid, just leave a comment on the photo of the item you are bidding on, including the amount of your bid. If you are outbid, you may increase your bid by posting your new bid in another comment.

At the conclusion of the auction, you will be contacted for payment information and, upon receipt of payment, your item will be sent to you. Happy bidding!

ALL funds raised will go to support Operation Migration their work with Whooping cranes in 2017. Here’s just a few of the items available! 

Photography Contest Winner!

Congratulations to Natalie Jens!

Natalie and several others took part in our first-ever Nature Photography Workshop, which was offered at the recent Whooping Crane Festival in and around Princeton, Wisconsin.

We invited all participants to submit their favorite photo from Sunday’s outing with instructor David Heritsch. Our Board was tasked with selecting their favorite and the one with the most votes was Natalie’s fantastic image showing a Green frog (Rana clamitans). 

Natalie will receive an Amazon.com gift-card with $100 loaded onto it. 

Here is Natalie’s winning photo!

Green Frog – Rana clamitans by Natalie Jens. (click photo to enlarge)

And here’s a bit more about Natalie: I am 14 years old and started High School this Fall in Beaver Dam. I live on the lake in Beaver Dam and I think living on the lake was a big part of becoming interested in photography. We have beautiful sunsets, pelicans and herons right in our backyard. I love taking pictures!!! The photography class you offered really helped me better understand a lot of the elements that can make a big difference when taking pictures. I’m so thankful to have won the photo contest.

I joined the golf team this fall (having never golfed in my life) and really enjoy it but my favorite sport is basketball. My Beaver Dam team has won the Division 2 State Championship in grades 6, 7 and 8. I was honored to be selected to the all tournament team each of those years. 

Thanks again for offering such a great opportunity. The class was fun and informative, everyone in the class was great and the instructor was fantastic!!! I hope you do it again next year – I’ll be there 😉

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