Whooping Crane #4-14 Improving

We mentioned last week that our only male Whooping crane in the Class of 2014 had sustained an injury to his hock. Crane #4-14 (aka Peanut) is improving and his limp is getting better. He’s on a daily regime of meds for pain and swelling. Doug Pellerin sent along this photo from yesterday, showing Geoff Tarbox administering a smelt, which contains his morning dose of medication.

Almost every time meds are administered it turns into a fun game of pick up fish. Number 4-14 takes the fish – drops it – Geoff picks it up. Over and over until finally he gulps it down (the crane, not Geoff). It’s even more fun to watch when the six girl cranes are standing by waiting for their chance to play!

DSCN0355_DP083114

Let the Bidding Begin!

Bidding is NOW open on our 2014 online Facebook auction!

We’re very excited to have 34 WONDERFUL items in this auction, all donated by YOU, our faithful supporters!

Here’s where the items are located: http://on.fb.me/XZmyVm.

Here’s how the online auction works:

  • Bidding opens on Tuesday, September 2nd and closes at noon, Central time on Friday, September 26th. *Any bids received prior to Sept. 2nd will be removed.*
  • The minimum bid amount in no way reflects the fair market value of each item. Instead the minimum bid amount was established to cover postage/packaging costs within North America.
  • To place a bid, please 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 another comment, should you choose to.
  • 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.

ALL funds raised will go to Operation Migration and the Class of 2014 Whooping cranes. If you have any questions, please email Jbellemer(AT)operationmigration.org.

HAPPY BIDDING!

Just a couple of the items available on Tuesday, September 2nd in our online auction!

Just a couple of the items available on Tuesday, September 2nd in our online auction!

Everyone Loves a Parade!

Well, we’re now at the time of year when training becomes come what may. Actually, it’s started earlier than usual this year. Some mornings we get up, and the wind is calm, but we have lots of fog. And when we don’t have lots of fog, we have rain. And when we don’t have rain, we have lots of wind. And what’s more is, we’re also at the time of year when we’re supposed to have these birds up in the air for minutes at a time. We’ve been able to train one or two times a week over the last two weeks. In fact, Brooke told me one morning (joking of course) that we weren’t going to train until the 21st of September! (our target departure date)

Of course, the concern is, will the birds get too comfy in their pen? Nobody wants a repeat of 2011. Not even these birds, and they weren’t even alive for it.  But you know what I say to that? I say watch the cranes during training. Even after missing almost a week’s worth of training, the morning Richard finally got the birds up in the air, he had them up for almost ten minutes. Four days later, we had them up for 17 minutes. Last Thursday, they were only airborne for about 10 minutes but that was more a function of the weather. We had a long fog delay and by the time it cleared, the air was already a little bumpy. But we didn’t want the day to go to waste, since the next few days were going to be misses. So far, from the moment these cranes took to the sky, they have not disappointed.

Of course, we’re all worried about little Peanut (I’ve taken to calling him ‘Luka’ for reasons of my own). His sprained leg is going to be keeping him down for the next couple of weeks. There’s some concern he’s going to fall behind or get acclimated to the pen. Not anytime soon, I say. For one, we have to keep locking him in the wet pen (which is a first for me) just to keep him from coming out the runway when we open the doors. The fact we even have to do this is a sign that he has his heart on training. In addition, he likes to flap around the pen when he needs to move around. His wing muscles will get a workout from that for sure. He still walks on his goofy leg, though but we’d be happier if the swelling in his leg went down.

That about sums up life in White River Marsh for the moment!  Keep watching that CraneCam!  Who knows what special guest white birds will show up, or when.  I for one, cracked a very large smile when I saw the 2013 birds march down the runway like a parade last Saturday!

The Class of 2013 returns to check out their former training site.

The Class of 2013 returns to check out their former training site.

RIP Martha…

Today marks the 100 year anniversary of the loss of a species. A species once so abundant, they darkened the skies as flocks passed overhead during migration. Estimates once placed the total population at 3 to 5 billion. Billion.

Over hunting decimated the species in a few decades, until one remained – ‘Martha’ – named after First Lady Martha Washington. Martha, the last remaining Passenger pigeon, lived out the remainder of her life at the Cincinnati Zoo. She died at 1pm on September 1st, 1914.

Project Passenger Pigeon is marking the anniversary with a number of initiatives, including the release of a documentary “From Billions to None,” speaking engagements, social media campaigns and the release of a new book about Passenger pigeons. Their goal is to strengthen the relationship between humans and our natural world and encourage sustainable use of natural resources. 

If you are planning to attend our Whooping Crane Festival dinner on Friday, September 12th, our keynote speaker will be Stanley A. Temple, who participated in the making of the documentary From Billions to None. 

For 32 years Stan occupied the faculty position once held by Aldo Leopold and while in that position earned every teaching award for which he was eligible. He and his students have worked on endangered species problems in 21 different countries, and have helped save some of the world’s rarest and most endangered species, especially birds. Stan has received recognition for his work in conservation from numerous organizations, and has authored over 330 publications. He has long been interested in passenger pigeons, having analyzed historical records of the species that were first assembled by A. W. Schorger for his 1955 book on the life history and ecology of the species. 

Stan’s presentation explores the ecology and life history of the passenger pigeon and other extinct and endangered birds, current extinction crises, endangered species recovery, human relationship with wildlife, and sustainable use of biological resources.

I’m looking forward to his presentation. If you’d like to attend, be sure to pre-register.

Here are some additional new stories about the Passenger pigeon: New York Times | Birdwatching Daily |  Wall Street Journal

Ready! Set!! BID!!!

On Tuesday, 9/2, bidding will open on our 2014 online auction. In the meantime, you can peruse the items on our FaceBook page as they are added. We’re very excited to have 34 WONDERFUL items in this auction, all donated by YOU, our faithful supporters!

Here’s where the items are located: http://on.fb.me/XZmyVm. You may see just a few items at first, but rest assured that ALL 34 items will be posted by the time bidding opens on 9/2.

Here’s how the online auction works:

  • Bidding opens on Tuesday, September 2nd and closes at noon, Central time on Friday, September 26th. *Any bids received prior to Sept. 2nd will be removed.*
  • The minimum bid amount in no way reflects the fair market value of each item. Instead the minimum bid amount was established to cover postage/packaging costs within North America.
  • To place a bid, please 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 another comment, should you choose to.
  • 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.

 

ALL funds raised will go to Operation Migration and the Class of 2014 Whooping cranes. If you have any questions, please email Jbellemer(AT)operationmigration.org.

HAPPY BIDDING!

Just a couple of the items available on Tuesday, September 2nd in our online auction!

Just a couple of the items available on Tuesday, September 2nd in our online auction!

The Boys Are Back in Town…

And they brought reinforcements. Yesterday morning, as Geoff and Doug waited patiently for the fog to clear at White River Marsh, and the CraneCam viewers waited not-so-patiently for the same thing, we were treated to the surreal sound of Whooping cranes calling in the distance.

Looking for white birds in the early morning fog is very much like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack so we all settled for just enjoying their haunting vocalizations. Not long after (yes, we were still on a fog delay), sub-adult Whooping cranes 4-12 & 5-12 came sauntering along the grass training strip from the north. Man, do they have swagger…

They weren’t alone – behind them was the Sandhill crane pair that also frequents the training site. I wondered if they had devised a plan to gang up on the costumes and steal their grapes?

“I’ll create a diversion and get the tall tume to come after me – you jumprake the short one and when he’s down GO FOR THE GRAPES”!

(It’s amazing what goes through your mind while you wait for fog to clear)

Alas, there was nothing that scandalous afoot, although they did take turns strutting past the costumes on several occasions – seemingly baiting them to get aggressive and chase them off. Once Brooke appeared in the aircraft off in the distance, the Nerf balls made their first appearance of the season and the two were chased off (the cranes – not the costumes).

Some of you may be wondering ‘Why Nerf balls’? Try chasing a Whooping crane away while you’re wearing rubber boots. The Nerf balls won’t hurt them should the costumes actually have good throwing arms (they don’t) and it’s an effective way to get them to leave. Now you’re wondering ‘Why do you want them to leave’? Well, mainly because they can be unpredictable – they are wild cranes – and they could become aggressive toward our young cranes, and well that’s a risk we don’t want to take.

Doug Pellerin (one of the costumes that can’t throw a Nerf ball) captured and sent along the following images for your viewing pleasure.

Whooping cranes and Sandhill cranes

4-12 & 5-12 show up for training – with reinforcements.

DSCN0330

2 yr. old Whooping crane 5-12 stares down the costume, while 4-12 preens in the background.

DSCN0333

CHIP IN Winner!

Here’s a FUN way to support whooping cranes! 

Purchase a 2014 Whooping crane Chip from our Marketplace for $20. Each Chip is individually numbered and contains an alpha/numeric code.

As soon as you receive your Chip in the mail, visit www.coinlogin.org to register your name and email, along with your Chip number and code.

Over the next few months, we’ll be holding random draws for some fun items so keep an eye on your inbox.

Once all the Chips are gone, we’ll hold FOUR additional draws:

  • Two for CITGO gas cards, valued at $100 each.
  • $500 CASH
  • A flight back seat with our CEO, Joe Duff as pilot, while he flies in the chase position with the Class of 2014 Whooping cranes!

There are only 1000 Chips available, so be sure to order yours soon so you don’t miss out!

CHIP_IN

Get YOUR Chip Now!

When we launched this campaign last week, we mentioned we would hold random prize draws throughout the campaign, until all of the Chips are sold.

Last evening we selected a number from the 305 Chips, which have been registered thus far and the winning chip is number 617 – Registered to: Karen Crawford. Karen will receive an OM prize pack in the mail shortly. The prize pack includes all of the items pictured below. Congratulations Karen!

IMG_20140717_101047_Prize_pack

 

A Break in the Weather

Yesterday morning provided good weather conditions and allowed for Brooke to train with six of our seven young Whooping cranes. Our only male crane this year, no. 4-14 developed a limp yesterday morning so he stayed behind in the pen to not stress the injury further. He was examined yesterday afternoon by Dr. Barry Hartup from the International Crane Foundation and the UW Veterinary Care – University Wisconsin, who determined the injury to be involving the soft tissue surrounding his right hock joint, so he’ll be on the disabled list for at least a week to allow it to heal. Number 4-14 will be on a week long regime of medication to help alleviate pain.

Dr. Hartup believes the injury occurred when a strong storm passed through the area early Monday morning. The cranes have a habit of getting excited in windy conditions and leaping in the air. Chances are he landed wrong and jarred the leg.

Despite the downtime due to recent poor weather, all the girls did great flying with the aircraft and logged over 15 minutes of air time. Four seemed to even find the sweet spot behind the wing where they get the benefit of riding the vortices that spill off the wingtips. In addition to those watching the action LIVE on the CraneCam, they also had a feathered audience of two adult Whooping cranes to witness their great progress.

Cranes 4-12 & 5-12 watched from the north end of the training strip and seemed impressed with the ladies.

Tom Schultz captured the following images for us to share with you.

Four of the Whooper ladies fly with Brooke.

Four of the Whooper ladies fly with Brooke.

Brooke passes out the grapes as a reward for a job well done.

Brooke passes out the grapes as a reward for a job well done.

Our only male Whooping crane has somehow sustained a soft tissue injury involving his right leg.

Our only male Whooping crane has somehow sustained a soft tissue injury involving his right leg.

In case you missed it, here’s a clip showing all the action!

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Timing is Everything

Joan asks – “Does all these no-training days become a problem for the cranes flight schedule”?

If only we could hatch the cranes earlier so they would fledge in July. That way they would be ready to leave on the migration in August when the weather is still cooperating.

In July the calm mornings allow us to train almost every day, but toward the end of August the fall weather system sets in and training days become as rare as Whooping cranes. It is bad timing because that is just when we need good flying conditions to increase their endurance and keep them following.

This is the season when bad habits are dangerous. If we get another episode of behavior like number 10 displayed earlier in the summer, we don’t have the flying days to correct it. The problem just gets worse as time goes on and the start of migration turns into a fiasco and we have all seen that one act play.

There is nothing we can do about good weather withdrawal. We go through the 12 steps from denial to anger and finally acceptance.  Then, when Indian Summer finally arrives, we start over and somewhere in central Illinois it all comes together. The birds finally get the message.

We get a few flyable days in a row and the reward is a long string of pearls off the wing tip of the lead aircraft and a light at the end of the migration tunnel.

All we can do now is cross our fingers and know that we will see you on the other side.

Tweets for Whoopers

One of the ways we’re going to keep everyone updated during the fall season, which of course, includes the upcoming festival and our southward migration is Twitter! You can use Twitter on your phone or your PC or laptop/tablet and it’s a great way to get news/updates fast.

If you don’t yet have a Twitter account, you can very easily create one using your mobile phone or your PC or laptop. These instructions outline how to create an account and get our updates, using your pc or laptop. Visit Twitter.com and follow the instructions to create your new Twitter account. Once you’ve created your account, be sure to search for Operation Migration (@opermigration) – click on our profile, then select:Twitter_follow

So, now that you are a Twitter user, how do you get up to the minute updates on your phone?

  1. Log in to twitter.com and click on the gear icon located at the top right of your screen.
  2. Select Settings from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click on the Mobile tab.
  4. Choose your country from the first drop-down menu.
  5. Enter your mobile number. No need to include your country code or leading zero.
  6. Click Activate phone to begin verifying your phone.
  7. You will be directed to send the word ‘GO’ via text message to Twitter (using the appropriate country-specific short code). If you’re in the U.S. your shortcode is: 40404 
  8. Text the verification code from your phone to that short code.
  9. After we receive the verification code from you, your mobile device will be added to your Twitter account!

Next, navigate back to http://twitter.com/OperMigration Click on the gear icon, located beside the blue Following button. From the dropdown, select Turn on mobile notifications.

Twitter_mobile

It’s that easy! Now, each time we send out a tweet, you’ll instantly receive a text message letting you know what’s happening!

What will we tweet about? Well, during the festival, we’ll be tweeting whether or not there will be training each morning, so that you’ll have time to get to the flyover viewing locations, or stay in bed in the case of poor weather. We’ll be tweeting raffle ticket winning numbers during Saturday’s festival. If we spot an adult Whooping crane in the area, we’ll send out a tweet. If there are any changes in plans, we’ll tweet it. Here’s a sample tweet: Flying this morning! Make your way to http://goo.gl/maps/vPWUc @6:30CT to watch #whoopingcranes fly with aircraft!

During the southward migration, we’ll tweet each morning whether that day will be a ‘go’ or a ‘no-go’ and the appropriate flyover location along with a google map, so you can find your way to the viewing spot. We’ll tweet each time we arrive at a new stopover and we’ll tweet photos. Be sure to get your Twitter account so you don’t miss any of the action!

 

A Rare Life Indeed…

Operation Migration’s Brooke Pennypacker has been nominated for the 2014 Eagle Rare Life Award, which could earn $50,000 for Whooping crane recovery. YOU can HELP – It’s super easy. All you have to do is CLICK HERE then CLICK Vote for this story.

Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey will be awarding $50,000 to one nominee’s charity and $5,000 awards to six others in their 2015 Eagle Rare Life Awards. The voting period began on May 27th and runs until January 6, 2015. You can vote once every 24-hour period, and you can vote on each device you own. Your laptop, desktop PC, phone, tablet.

Last year, your votes helped OM earn $5000 in Citgo fuel cards so we know you can do this!

Check out Brooke’s Rare Life story by visiting the Eagle Rare site and to learn more about the awards, be sure to watch the video following the photo of our dashing pilot below. And share it! Don’t forget to share!

While you’re on the page, why not add a bookmark in your browser so you can find it daily?

Please vote EVERY day until January 6, 2015 to help Brooke (and OM) earn $50,000

Rain, Fog or Wind…

Take your pick because since last Friday, any one, or all, have prevented aircraft training with our young Whooping cranes. On Monday evening the skies opened up and dumped a LOT of rain over the entire area, which filled the wetpen back to it’s original state. The cranes have been having a great time wading in the deeper water but I’m sure they’re eager to be airborne again.

The pilots are eager to fly also (trust me, there is nothing sadder than a grounded pilot). Hopefully this morning they’ll get their chance.

Tom Schultz captured some photos for us from inside the enclosure on Tuesday.

whooping crane wingspan

Our youngest colt, number 10-14 shows off her glorious wings.

This time she shows the front view of her wings while her sister, number 9-14 looks on. Note the still blue/gray eyes on number 7-14 in the forefront? Soon they will change to a bright yellow.

This time she shows the front view of her wings while her sister, number 9-14 looks on. Note the still blue/gray eyes on number 7-14 in the forefront? Soon they will change to a bright yellow.

The POWER of The Grape

If you were born with any luck at all, your family had an “Uncle Jimmy” lurching about in the periphery of your life. You know… that old childhood friend of one of your parents who, somewhere in the deep dark past, zigged when the rest of the world zagged. Who never quite got his head around life but served well as a “do as I say, not as I do” role model in reverse. He was the guy who staggered and stumbled at life’s edges just long enough that they gave him the honorary designation “Uncle.”

Uncle Jimmy used to magically appear with cicada-like regularity from his place in obscurity, hang out long enough to tell a few stories which we referred to as “Whoppers” after he left, then disappear with such regularity that it all seemed quite normal. But in point of fact, there was nothing quite normal about Uncle Jimmy.

The Uncle Jimmy story I remember best was the time he was an Army private with the post WW2 Occupational Forces in France. One morning while on patrol, he happened upon a bombed out village.  On further investigation, he discovered deep in the rubble the entrance to a wine cellar and spent the next four days attending the “First Annual Uncle Jimmy Wine Tasting Festival.”  He summed up the entire experience with three letters… FUN!  The Army summed it up later in four… AWOL!

At the Court Marshal hearing, Uncle Jimmy’s lawyer began his defense by describing the important role wine had played throughout history. He pointed out that it wasn’t the broad sword or the military phalanx or even the seductively addictive 16”pizza pie with everything on it that fueled the expansion of the Roman Empire, although the very first wheel was in fact a stale pizza. (In the words of Julius Caesar: Gallia est omnis divisa in slicea tres” or “All Gaul is divided into three slices”)

No. It was wine!  “Hey! Take a sip of this, you Carthaginian elephant jockey. You’ll like it!” and “Que passa, you Egyptian serial pyramid constructor. A little cup of this and you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself” Then before you could say “Twelve Step Program” those poor barbarians were drunk and passed out and when they woke up, they found themselves conquered.  “Hail Caesar and pass the parmesan cheese” the Romans screamed.  “The Nectar of the Gods strikes again. This invasion was brought to you by the vineyards of Ernest and Julio Gallo!” The lawyer concluded his defense by asking the court a single question, “If most of the world succumbed to the power of the grape, then what chance did our poor, pitiful, soon to be Brooke’s Uncle Jimmy have?”

They kicked Uncle Jimmy out of the Army and transported him back to the States where he got a job as a milk man and that was fine until he hurt his back opening up an envelope full of milk money and got on permanent disability, after which he spent his days doing heavy construction work while getting paid under the table, playing Little League Baseball with kids half his size and bungee jumping off of bar stools.

“What does any of this have to do with crane chicks?” you ask. “Patience!  I’m getting to that!”

So like I was saying, the grape has been a tool used to shape the destiny of the human race for centuries. Like the Golden Rule says in the Bible, “Shape the behaviors of others as you would have them shape the behaviors of you.  So drink up, everybody.” In the end, it’s all about control.  Like Uncle Jimmy used to say, “Control a guy’s oxygen and you got a friend for life.”

Establishing control of the whooper’s oxygen would be problematic. But carrot and sticking them into following us isn’t all that hard.  For our part, this project is really just one big exercise in following.  If the chicks follow the trike and the costume sitting in it, the trip to Florida is a done deal.  If they don’t?  Well, there’s always the crane box.  Many years and millions of research dollars  have been spent studying the subject and it was finally proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that if you put a bird into a box, then put that box into the back of a van, the box will follow the front of the van anywhere you drive it. It is referred to as the “Crate Away Home” study. But I digress…

Whooper chicks aren’t much for carrots but they sure do love those grapes. They’re the glue that binds crane to costume.  And the chicks down them with such delight that it would make a carnival sword swallower blush with envy. You can actually watch the bulging grape slowly make its way down their necks while they’re giving you that “Stop laughing!  I’m passing a kidney stone” look. Then no more do they swallow one and they’re fighting for another. You can call it “Crane Candy” or “Whooper Crack” or whatever you want, but it’s an essential tool in shaping their behaviors. In fact, next year we are going to feature the ”Grape Cam” a grape with a little camera inside of it so you can watch the grape’s migration from beginning to end.  We’re going to call it “Mr. Grape’s Wild Ride” or perhaps the “Colonoscopy Express” to tread where no man has tread before. But truth is, grapes are just the beginning.  By the end of migration, we’re giving them watermelons!  Really! In truth, a watermelon may not do much for shaping their behaviors but it sure does shape their anatomy! Besides, you haven’t lived until you’ve watched a crane chick spitting out those seeds! “Incoming!”

So the next time someone asks you if you want wine with dinner, beware.  You’re behavior is about to be shaped or you’re about to be conquered.  But don’t fight it. Instead, just kick back and enjoy the ride. And remember; if it’s good enough for the chicks and Ernest and Julio and Roman Empire and Uncle Jimmy, it’s good enough for you.

Postscript:

On a more serious note;   A Toast… to Robin Williams – who for so many years guided us to that special place within all things… where there is laughter.

MileMaker Challenge for Marlene

Upon reading the news that our friend and Craniac Marlene Meyer had passed away, another longtime Craniac from Washington state contacted us with a MileMaker challenge.

Marlene loved to help Whooping cranes and Operation Migration. She contributed financially, educated many and helped spread the Whooper message.

This anonymous Craniac from Washington would like to honor Marlene with a 5 mile challenge – this means that for every 1/4, 1/2 or full mile contributed by you, she will DOUBLE your donation as a tribute to Marlene.

Becoming a MileMaker is easy. Just click this link to learn more.

Farewell to a Special Craniac…

I wrote the following on July 7th – Just six short weeks ago. During my last conversation with Marlene Meyer she shared that she didn’t know how much time she had left but could probably count the number of months on one hand. She was right. Again. Marlene was always right.

I’m saddened to let you know that this gutsy lady passed away peacefully on Sunday. A service to celebrate her life will be held this Saturday at noon at the Concordia United Methodist Church in Prairie du Sac. You can view Marlene’s obituary at this link

Our sincerest condolences to Marlene’s family…


Special Request From a Long Time Craniac…

Marlene Meyer of Wisconsin has been a Craniac for as long as I can recall. As such, she’s always ready with an accurate response to CraneCam chatters’ questions about this project and her quick wit makes her a welcome addition to the ustream chat room.

Marlene has opened her home to the migration team, preparing wonderful meals and has delivered home baked goodies to us at our migration stops over the years, when we’re missing the comforts of home.

Now, Marlene has a special request. This gutsy lady recently shared with us that she has been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

When most in her condition (with good reason) would be feeling sorry for themselves – Marlene continues to demonstrate a selfless attitude and has asked that supporters and friends each Give A WHOOP! Both in celebration of her life and in support of the Class of 2014 whooping cranes.

Marlene says “I would appreciate having them each give a WHOOP for me – as a way of raising my spirits and lifting prayers for me. Sort of like lighting a candle for me. I want all my CraneCam chat and Facebook friends to know how much their friendship has meant over the years and love you all so much. I hope to be able to continue watching the fall training online and meeting up with some of you now and then. I’m sure going to try but you know the drill… THY WILL BE DONE. God bless each of you and the Class of 2014. ”

With each WHOOP, please leave a message for Marlene in the Donor Note field. Your tributes will be listed on the Give A WHOOP! Recognition page, unless you choose that it be kept anonymous.

Let’s celebrate Marlene’s life and her wishes for the Class of 2014 cranes…  Marlene, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you go through this journey. We’re grateful for your support for so many years and how much you have contributed to educating others about Operation Migration and whooping cranes.

Give a WHOOP! For Marlene Meyer

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 80