38-16 (and Friend) Continued…

Here is the next installment about the young parent reared Whooping crane number 38-16.

It was dark when I left 38-16. I drove back to camp knowing he was still standing alone in the harvested cornfield and I hoped I would see him in the morning. Constant thunder and lightning at 3 AM along with high winds and driving rain made sleep impossible and I thought of him.

I would not want to be out in that storm myself but all wildlife survive it. Birds simply fluff their feathers to trap more warm air, turn into the wind and tolerate it. In truth, they are likely safer on stormy nights because predators also hunker down – more interested in staying warm than hunting for food.

The next morning I was on site before first light staring through my binoculars at the spot in the field where I saw him last. With the speed of drying paint, dark forms began to take shape and his fawn colors against the preview of white feathers slowly separated from the corn stubble and there he was, safe in the same spot. He wandered back to where he spent the day before and within a few minutes 4-13 and 7-14 landed next to him.

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During the day, they foraged and flew and acted like the perfect family while we recorded their interactions. That evening the adults again took off for their roosting site. The chick followed but we could see that he was not able to keep up. They circled a few times and called their encouragement but he only looked up. They left and he stayed, and once again, he was alone.

He survived that night and the next and when the adults arrived on the fourth morning, we brought them another friend.

The two adults and 38-16 are off in the distance as Brooke and Joe release 31-16. Photo: H. Ray

The two adults and 38-16 are off in the distance as Brooke and Joe release 31-16. Photo: H. Ray

We were concerned that putting another chick into the temporary pen so they could all interact together might not work twice. And who knew how long the two adults would continue to use this same field. Sometimes they share it with a few dozen geese and twenty Sandhills and at some point, the waste corn or whatever they are all eating would be depleted. So we decided to just release 31-16.

The field they use is likely a hundred acres, sowed east and west. We released 31-16 from the road, a quarter mile away on the eastern side. They seem to like the low area at the far west end and when we opened the crate, he flew in that general direction. We were sure the adults knew they had company but they were not in clear view of each other so Brooke and I walked towards him, slowly corralling from fifty feet away. He wandered into a weed patch in the center of the field and we retreated to watch from the road. Within minutes, the adults were leading both chicks back to their favorite foraging area and they all spent the day together. That evening, two chicks spent the night alone.

They are only two and three years old but I would be surprised if these two sub-adults don’t make good parents someday. In fact, this early training might be good practice. When they left on the fifth night, they took off with the chicks four times and turned around each time the chicks landed.

The older chick is a stronger flyer and periodically during the day, he provokes the younger one into the air for a little exercise. Hopefully, before it becomes a habit to stay behind, they will gain the courage and stamina to fly away home.

Wisconsin’s State Bird

I know everyone thinks that the Robin is the Wisconsin state bird, but, they are wrong. It’s the common house fly, and they are BIG here in Wisconsin!

For as many years as I’ve been on the crew they have been an annoyance. It just meant you keep several fly swatters, strategically located throughout your camper. The trick to getting them is to swat late at night or early in the morning. They roost on the ceiling.

This year however, I am sitting in this beautiful field for 11 hours a day watching adult Whoopers 24 & 42-09 and our Mean Girl from last year’s class, 6-15 and her friend 19-10, (presumably it’s 19-10, Bev Paulan, WI DNR pilot says they hang together, she has gotten pictures and has ID’d the bird but it’s VHF transmitter is not functioning and the pair has not gotten close enough for me to see leg bands). These four Whooping cranes have been loafing between 400-500 yards from the release pen containing two Parent Reared chicks. No bonds being formed here – yet.

So as I sit and will the adults ever. so. closer., my pastime is shooing and swatting the million or so flies that swarm into the van.

Flies getting acquainted with the spotting scope case. Photo: C. Chase

Flies getting acquainted with the spotting scope case. Photo: C. Chase

It is an Alfred Hitchcock nightmare! They never stop, they cover any exposed skin, so even though it is fairly warm, I have to wear jeans, socks and a long sleeved shirt. They bite. I don’t dare yawn. The constant buzz should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention. It will make you nuts quick.

So please y’all, pray for a freeze so I don’t end up in a rubber room swatting at empty air and babbling to myself!

Parent Reared Whooping Crane #38-16

Releasing parent reared birds is not as easy as just opening the gate.

The adult birds, 7-14 and 4-13 have been roosting in a Marquette county marsh and foraging in a harvested corn field every day for a couple of weeks. The property owners generously postponed discing their field and let us put up a small pen once we were confident the adults would come back.

We put chick #38-16 in the pen while the target pair were still at roost and when they arrived, they showed immediate interest. For two days they stayed close to the pen while we recorded their behavior every ten minutes. On the third day, the team agreed that there was a bond beginning to form and it was time to let 38-16 out.

This chick was raised by captive parents at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. It had no exposure to costumes but periodically staff had to change the food and check the chick’s health. Wild birds don’t like to be grabbed so it grew fearful of people.

This male was particularly anxious when we approached the release pen. On his second day in the field and after the adults left for the evening, I walked out to make sure he had water and food. But he flew at the fence panel so violently and often that I worried he would break his neck. I got close enough to see that there was water in his bucket and I backed away quickly.

So on Tuesday morning we released 38-16 with what we hope will be his adoptive parents, or maybe just an older brother and sister willing to teach him the ropes.

It was foggy near the pen that morning. First light painted a landscape with a  hundred shades of gray on a backdrop of barely discernable trees. Harvested corn stubble, like some giant five o’clock shadow, stretched to the pen where two stark white creatures looked more like angels than birds.

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The only color in this monochromatic picture was the young, golden-fawn Whooping crane they seemed to be watching over.

The team had decided that wearing a costume might keep the older birds from flushing when the pen was opened so, like I have done countless times, I pulled it over my head and slowly walked out to the pen. I stopped even 30 feet or so to let them adjust.

The two adults, familiar with the costume, didn't mind the intrusion and stayed next to the chick in the pen. Photo: H. Ray

The two adults, familiar with the costume, didn’t mind the intrusion and stayed next to the chick in the pen. Photo: H. Ray

They stood there eyeing me with what looked to me like indifference. Something vaguely familiar but not of much importance.

Surprisingly, their relaxed demeanor seemed to calm the chick who obviously wanted out, but not with the self destructive desperation of my last approach. He paced the fence on the opposite side while I slipped back the top net and separated two panels to create a six foot gap. The adults were on the east side so I stayed on the west keeping the pen between us to add to their confidence. I backed away and the chick relaxed.

From the safety of distance we watched in frustration as the chick paced back and forth while the pathway to freedom eluded him. The adults stood quiet, casualty evaluating the intellect of their newfound son.

He failed miserably so before they gave up on him, I walked out into the field again, this time approaching from the side he continued to pace. As expected, he moved as far from me as he could and finally found the gap. And for the first time in his six month life–he flew.

38-16 finally locates the open panels and makes his exit as 4-13 & 7-14 watch. Photo: H. Ray

38-16 finally locates the open panels and makes his exit as 4-13 & 7-14 watch. Photo: H. Ray

For the rest of the day we watched and took notes. They flew occasionally but the chick never made it very far. Once, something flushed all three of them and their accompanying Sandhills. The adults alarm called and flew to the far end of the field while the chick covered 200 meters and landed. The adults slowly walked back to him. They foraged and loafed for most of the afternoon looking comfortable and familiar like a natural family.

Later in the day, something startled the Sandhills and off they all went again, the chick just behind the adults. But he landed short, prompting the adults to turn back. They circled him twice, calling with each rotation. He took off again but only covered a hundred meters, while they continued on a heading for their roost site 3 miles to the east.

He stood watching them leave and stayed in the exact same spot for over an hour.

Earlier, the field had hosted a hundred geese, two dozen Sandhills and three Whooping cranes. Now he was alone in an empty field, next to an empty pen, night falling, no water to roost in. The epitome of loneliness. I almost cried for him.

To be continued….

We Are Family – Maybe?

Jo-Anne and I have been helping Joe monitor the Parent Reared chick sporting the number 38-16. Just like in the old days of aircraft-guided migration, bird numbers are assigned by their hatch order.

What this means is that number 38 was, well the 38th crane to hatch at Patuxent this season, which happens to be 16 – therefore he (yes, he is a he) gets to wear 38-16 on his jersey!

This little guy was released from his pen Tuesday morning at 7:30 and since then has been doing very well in forming a relationship and bonding with the two ‘target’ cranes, which are 4-13 & 7-14. Just like our little girl 32-16 did when she exited her release pen, number 38-16 shot like a javelin into the air!

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There is something incredibly special about witnessing a wild bird taste flight for the first time. It gives me crane bumps just thinking about it. Photo: H. Ray

The morning fog lent a magical quality to the entire experience. Photo: H. Ray

The morning fog lent a magical quality to the entire experience. Photo: H. Ray

When he did land – approximately 300 meters from his release pen, the two target cranes began walking purposefully toward him. They had been mingling through the fence panels since the 17th but it’s always interesting to watch the interactions now that there is nothing but air between them.

Everything seemed to be going just fine…. then this happened!

Establishing the pecking order. Photo: H. Ray

Establishing the pecking order. Photo: H. Ray

We couldn’t see the legbands to determine just who had taken the lead bird in the pecking order position but no doubt the adult was saying “listen here kid – we have rules and you need to follow them.”

Whatever was said must’ve worked because throughout the rest of the day this trio was a pretty close group…. Until 6:45 pm at least.

(We’ll let Joe Duff pick up the story tomorrow)

Drama, Beauty & Boredom

 

I just read Heather’s field journal entry and once again am fighting tears. Such highs and lows and such a mix of drama, beauty and boredom.

I am tucked into the edge of a corn field right now, in Adams Co. To my right a harvested sweet corn field stretch’s out about 500 yards. The pen with #’s 29 & 39-16 is about 200 feet in front of me. To my left is a cranberry bog reservoir.

It’s 7:40am and the Sandhills that overnight there are just coming off roost. Hundreds and hundreds of them. The sound is deafening. It’s so beautiful and primal it makes my heart hurt. This little place is a piece of what our world was, what it should be.

As the day goes on, I will be bored if no Whooping cranes show up, I will keep swatting mosquitoes. I will be wet. It’s a rainy day.

And, there is no place on earth I would rather be. I am including a picture taken last Sunday when hunters flushed the Sandhills off roost en mass.

Highs & Lows

Anyone that works in this Whooping crane business will tell you there are extreme high’s and extreme low’s. That’s life in general I suppose but it seems to be magnified somewhat when dealing with a species whose numbers are fewer than 700.

As Jo-Anne mentioned yesterday, she and I had been charged with monitoring and recording observations about crane number 32-16 – both pre and post release. This may not seem crucial but it’s something we take very seriously and it’s a responsibility that few are given.

After quite a few hours of associating with yearlings 10 and 11-15, at noon on Saturday, Sept. 17th, Dr. Olsen arrived with Joe to release ‘our’ young Whooping crane. It’s amazing how attached one can get to a bird that we had been watching intently for 48 hours. Joe and Dr. Olsen discussed how best to approach and release the youngster without flushing the two yearling Whoopers and they decided since 10 and 11-15 were quite accustomed to the costume that Joe should approach the pen in costume. They are, after all, two cranes of the last ever cohort to fly with our aircraft.

It was amazing to watch the reaction of the two large white cranes when they spotted the costume. They were at this time approximately 500 meters from the pen and they immediately popped their heads up and began walking purposefully across the field toward Joe. If they could talk, I bet they would ask “What took you so long?”!img_0699

Without wasting any time, Joe turned off the electric fencer, rolled back the topnet and swung open one of the large pen panels, which would allow 32-16 freedom for the first time.

At 12:11 she exited – took two steps – and was airborne! So airborne that she actually flew past the two adults before landing just over a small hill – out of sight.

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Watching her exit the pen and taste flight and freedom for the first time was one of the extreme high’s I will always remember.

We held our collective breath to see what would happen next and very soon the two adults reversed course and began heading in the direction we had last seen the chick land. Before they got too far, we saw the chick come walking out from behind the rise and head toward the adults.

At first it seemed they weren’t too pleased. There was a bit of a scuffle, which resulted in the youngster flying off but only long enough to do a quick circuit around the field before returning again.

Introducing the chick to the pecking order?

Introducing the chick to the pecking order?

We watched and recorded our observations for the rest of the day… all the time, wondering what would happen at roost time. Our little girl 32-16, after all, had only recently discovered that she had wings and what they were for. Would she follow the two adults when they flew off to roost?

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At 6:45 that evening, all three cranes launched into the air and flew north, into the wind and over the pen field.

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They turned and headed west, then south… we held our breath… then she landed in the field she and the others had just launched from. The adults? They continued flying southwest to their roost site.

It broke our hearts to have to leave 32-16 out alone for the night but we had no other options. Reluctantly, we left to make the long drive back to camp and didn’t get much sleep before we were up at 4:30 to head back and try to find her.

Brooke and Colleen had arrived at 6am, before our two adult whoopers showed up, to tear down the release pen and move it to another location. We were all eager to learn how the chick had fared on her own through the night, so we all listened intently to our receivers for the beeps indicating which direction we would find her in.

The beeps seemed to be coming from the field we last saw her land in so, as the sun ever so slowly rose, all four of us stared at the field, waiting to see that lovely fawn color, which at this time of year seems to blend in with everything. Eventually, at 6:42, we noticed movement and all breathed a huge sigh of relief when we saw her upright and walking just behind some tall grass. She continued south until eventually she was behind a tree and out of sight.

The pen tear-down was put on hold as, at 6:52, the two yearling Whooping cranes landed and began walking into the field where the chick was. At 6:56 they began alarm calling and we grabbed our binoculars to see if we could determine what the cause was. We spotted a coyote slinking into the cornfield.

Brooke and Colleen left soon after to go set up another release pen a few counties away and Jo-Anne and I continued our post-release observations for 32-16. Unfortunately, she didn’t appear from behind the treeline again on Sunday. Because the other two whoopers were there, we couldn’t walk into the field to look for her in case we spooked them off.

We still had a signal on her so we hoped she was just foraging behind the trees in the “U” shaped field but I think we both had a big knot in our stomachs and feared the worst. It was decided that we would walk the field very early the next day before the yearlings arrived.

The very generous property owners had offered up accommodations for Jo and I so that we wouldn’t have to make the long drive back in the dark. We were able to be on site before sunrise and with a not quite full moon providing light, so we began walking in with the receiver and antenna. The sun was rising quickly, which helped, and after about 15 minutes we found our little crane – unfortunately, she was dead.

There are a lot of thoughts that swim through your head when you make such a discovery. None of them are pleasant but we had work to do. Take pictures of the scene, which could help to determine the cause of death. Were there any tracks in the area around her? Drag marks? Scattered feathers? What is the condition of the body? Take pictures, get coordinates, note anything remarkable. The entire time my inner voice kept screaming “it was going so damned well! She was the first one placed in a release pen to have adults pay attention to. She was the first one released. It appeared she was associating with the adults. Why? Why?”

She appeared to be in very good condition. There was a single feather approximately 3 feet from where she lay and nothing else was out of place, indicating she had not been scavenged. It seemed as if she had been hock-sitting and simply fell forward. I took more than enough photos of her and of the surrounding area for the National Wildlife Health Lab then Jo and I took her to Madison for a necropsy. Thankfully, they carried it out immediately and preliminary results showed two canid puncture wounds under her wing and internal hemorrhaging.

Very likely, the coyote we had seen the previous day had grabbed her and then perhaps was scared off by the two yearling cranes alarm calling. The location where we found her was roughly 12 feet from where we spotted the coyote.

This was definitely one of the extreme low’s for me…

Terry Kohler

Everyone at Operation Migration and in the extended Whooping crane and Trumpeter swan conservation family in Wisconsin is deeply saddened to learn of Terry Kohler’s passing.

Terry was one-of-a-kind and his generosity and commitment for wildlife conservation can be seen in the marshes and the skies of his home state.

Our deepest condolences to Mary and family.

http://www.sheboyganpress.com/story/news/obituaries/2016/09/20/terry-kohler-businessman-philanthropist-and-political-activist/90755054/

Fly on Terry…

Parent-Reared Whooping Crane Releases

This year’s Parent-Reared Whooping Crane project is well underway so we have a lot of information to share, and there has been NO time to write about it until now – it’s been a whirlwind of activity! Let me see if I can re-cap from last Wednesday although my memory is known to have lapses from time to time (i.e. ALL the time!).

On Wednesday afternoon, once we had an ETA on the arrival of the flight from Baltimore bringing the nine young parent-reared chicks from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, a caravan of vehicles left our camp here in Berlin to make our way to the Wautoma Municipal airport. Cameras ready, we panned the sky looking for the plane from Windway Capital who each year generously donate both aircraft and pilots to transport birds from Maryland to Wisconsin. Suddenly, there it was! Cameras clicked and videos were shot – everyone wanted to memorialize the moment of arrival.

9 Parent-reared chicks arriving in Wisconsin

9 Parent-reared chicks arriving in Wisconsin

The crates were quickly but carefully removed from the aircraft and placed in our two vans for transport to the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area, where we had prepared the pen used previously to house the cranes during summer flight training. The nine crates were placed inside the pen and, one by one, each crate was opened while Dr. Glenn Olsen from Patuxent watched closely to ensure each bird was intact and had not been injured during the journey. Cameras and phones captured the event through the pen’s portholes while CraneCam viewers watched remotely and chatted excitedly.

All 9 parent-reared chicks in the pen at White River Marsh

All 9 parent-reared chicks in the pen at White River Marsh

On Thursday morning, six of the chicks were given health checks and received their permanent leg bands and transmitters. Five of the cranes were placed in crates as they were completed and then placed in air conditioned vans. One chick was placed back into the “staging pen” while the first five were driven to their respective “release pens”. Each release pen is a smaller version of Operation Migration’s travel pens and had been set up prior to Thursday in areas where older Whooping Cranes are known to habituate. In some cases, decisions as to where to place release pens had to be made at the last minute because, as we all know, wild birds do not read our emails and tend to move around.

The first 2 parent-reared chicks placed in a release pen

The first 2 parent-reared chicks placed in a release pen

Heather and I were assigned to monitor a single chick, #32-16, placed in Outagamie County. The location was a beautiful farm where we met wonderful and giving landowners, and were fortunate to be able to sit in the truck to do observations. That kept us busy for Thursday afternoon and all day Friday – we recorded 5 minute observations every 10 minutes that included the chick’s movement and behavior, as well as the behavior and proximity of the two “target” older Whooping Cranes, yearlings 10-15 and 11-15. Even though the older cranes left on Thursday when Brooke and Colleen delivered 32-16 to her release pen, they were back bright and early (just after 7am) on Friday morning, and they foraged in the area of the pen all day. The hope with all of these releases is that the older “target cranes” will show an interest in the parent-reared chick(s) and these two really came through! They stayed so late that, quite honestly, by nearly dark, Heather and I were tired and were silently willing the yearlings to head off to roost.

10-15 and 11-15 look on as 32-16 feeds

10-15 and 11-15 look on as 32-16 feeds

Saturday morning the older cranes arrived a bit later, but showed similar interest in 32-16 in the pen, so Dr. Olsen, the parent-rearing project leader, made the decision that she should be released.

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story!

My Office for the Day…

Guest Author – Doug Pellerin

On Saturday September 17th, I met Joe at the site where the release pen was set up for the Parent Reared chicks numbers 30-16 & 34-16. He said that he had a few things that he had to do and asked if I wouldn’t mind monitoring the chicks alone for a while.
So I went in and setup my stuff so I could start monitoring the chicks for the day. And that was my office for the day. Not a bad view and much better than an indoors, stuffy office building!
Nice view for the day!

Nice view for the day!

The tools of the trade

The tools of the trade

Meet the Crane Chicks!

Here they are! and we’ve been so busy monitoring them and preparing for their release to older Whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population that we’ve not had time to post this till now.

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Online Auction!

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

The auction began September 6th and will run until NOON, Central time on Saturday, October 1st.

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, 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 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. Happy bidding!

ALL funds raised will go to support Operation Migration their work with Whooping cranes in 2016.

Just a few of the many items available!

Just a few of the many items available!

Parent Reared Release

Jo-Anne and I have been tasked with monitoring female #32-16.

Approximately 30 minutes after we arrived, the two target Whooping cranes appeared! 

Now, 1 hour & 15 minutes later, they’re still here and have approached the pen containing 32-16 numerous times.

We’re fairly certain we saw a thought bubble appear with the question “do storks deliver Whooping crane chicks”?

One, Two, Three – RELEASE!

Releasing parent reared birds in not as simple as just opening the gate. First, they have to be flown from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. Thanks to the generosity of Windway Capital in Sheboygan, WI nine birds arrived yesterday. The original arrival date of Tuesday was cancelled due to thunderstorms in the area, which could have made for a very rough ride. Once on the ground, all nine were quickly moved into our pen at White River. Note: There are also another three PR birds at ICF that will be released later.

So far, these birds have been reared by real Whooping crane parents. Their only experience with humans was when the vet checked them periodically or when handlers changed their water and added crane chow to their feeders. None of that was done in costume because most of the encounters were negative which, in principal, should make them wary of people. Still, it feels strangely un-natural not to be wearing a costume or to be talking anywhere near them. It is almost sacrilegious – like smoking in a church or treading on a grave. We were so reluctant to break the rules of piety that it took some time before we stopped whispering.

The day after they arrived (today), they were banded and fitted with tracking devices. Each one has a standard VHF transmitter, which we can locate by following the beep of our directional antenna. On the other leg, all but three will carry a satellite transmitter or one of the new GSM units that use cell phone technology. The locations those devices provide can be downloaded and opened in Google Earth to get an idea of their habitat choices. Decking them out in electronics is like equipping your children with smartphones and a stern reminder to call home occasionally as we send them out into the big bad world.

The next question to answer is where to release them and with whom. There are many options and to evaluate them, WCEP conducted a Structure Decision Making process. An SDM is a method of determining the best course of action when a number of variables are unknown. First, all the options are listed. The chicks could be released with failed pairs or cranes that had a chick this spring but lost it. Or they could be released with successful pairs that are already raising a chick and may accept another. Thereafter we could use young pairs that have not yet bred or cohorts of birds that have not yet paired or even single birds looking for a companion.

Each of those options is discussed, evaluated, scored and run through a series of algorithms. The process is repeated until all of the pros and cons have been considered and a priority list evolves. It sounds like a difficult way of arriving at a simple evaluation but there are many variables to consider. As an example, most of the failed pairs nest at Necedah. They might make good alloparents but the Recovery Team proposed that no more whooping cranes should be released into that habitat until the cause of nest abandonment can be mitigated. That problem is exacerbated by the high pre-fledge mortality that has also occurred there. This past spring 23 chicks were hatched at Necedah but only one survived to fledge. Until we know why, there is no justification for introducing more birds there. That means the Parent Reared cranes will be released outside of the blackfly regions at Necedah and in the area around White River and Horicon that we refer to as the Wisconsin Rectangle.

The priority list is the guiding document but it must be matched with the reality of bird distribution and pairing. The plan is to place the chicks, one or two at a time, in small pens where the alloparents forage during the day. This way we can evaluate their interactions and release the chick or chicks when we think the time is right.

Unfortunately, the older cranes have been moving lately. That may be an indication of an early migration or it could be that temperature variations are changing the availability of food sources. Whatever the reason, it makes it hard to predict where the wild birds will be and where to set up the pens.

Just like any Whooping crane project, it is a moving target and no matter how well it is planned, you better have a backup.

Young male Whooping crane #37-16 in his release pen. Photo: H. Ray

Young female Whooping crane #32-16 in her release pen. Photo: H. Ray

It’s Chick Arrival Day!

You all know by now that anything to do with aviation must maintain a somewhat fluid schedule. Such is the case with Windway Aviation, who so generously, is yet again, flying another cohort of Whooping crane chicks from Baltimore to Wisconsin this afternoon.

They’ve made numerous flights like this since 2001 and we, along with our Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership partners are forever grateful for their continued support of the Eastern Migratory Population.

The initial plan was to fly them out yesterday but a large weather system would have made for a rather bumpy ride for this precious cargo so the decision was made to delay it to today.

The Windway aircraft left their Sheboygan base earlier today and is currently en route to Baltimore’s BWI airport where they will be loaded up with nine crane crates each containing a young parent reared Whooping crane!

The pilots will reverse course and fly the chicks to Wisconsin – arrival airport still to be determined. The OM crew, along with Patuxent’s Dr. Glenn Olsen will be on hand to transfer the crates to our two air conditioned vans and they will be driven to the White River Marsh staging pensite.

Tune into the CraneCam at approximately 3:30pm to welcome the young cranes.

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