Avian Abode’s RAFFLE!

And here, without further adieu, are this year’s OM Staff Avian Abode’s!

The Odd Couple: Brooke Pennypacker and Bev Paulan

Creating a novel birdhouse was a task assigned to Brooke but we all know where the talent lies in that couple.

The creative use of wine corks provides a beautiful and practical exterior to their birdhouse and maybe a little insight to one of their other favorite hobbies.

 

 

 

 

The Backyard Enthusiast: Chris Danilko

Chris’ inspiration for her birdhouse design came from her three grandchildren: Abby 7, Mikayla 5 and Thomas 4. Chris spends weekends with the trio and is continuously coming up with ideas for all to participate in and to inspire them to appreciate nature and birds.

The finished product is completely edible and can be consumed by the occupants – providing you are a bird.

 

 

 

The Vagabond: Jo-Anne Bellemer

It seems that three months on the road was not enough to dampen Jo-Anne’s wanderlust. An aspiring RV owner, Jo-Anne’s birdhouse looks like a mini Winnebago for our feathered friends. Let’s hope they don’t get too attached. We might see them heading to Florida on foot with their mobile home in tow.

 

 

 

The Birdwatcher: Heather Ray

Heather’s birdhouse design incorporates her stained glass hobby into her other favorite pastime of birdwatching. She has provided our feathered friends with a nest opportunity that is safe from the elements, while still allowing you to peek in discretely. She is also teaching the birds a life-lesson about not throwing stones.

 

 

 

Greek Weddings and Colleen Chase

We are not sure if Colleen has any Greek ancestry but her birdhouse resulted from (un)-ceremoniously breaking a lot of plates. She scoured antique stores for old dinnerware and used the smashed pieces to create a mosaic birdhouse. What better way to provide shelter to pairs of expectant parents. OPA!

 

 

 

The Intemperate: Joe Duff

The birdhouses created by the OM team likely reflect their personalities more than they care to admit.

Joe started with a simple bird shelter and kept piling complications on top. Joe never learned the lesson most important to an artist and that is knowing when to stop.

 

 

 

 

Tickets are sold in sets of 5 for $5/set.

Visit this link and select your favorite(s) from the dropdown menu. The draws will be made on October 31st at noon and the winners will be notified on our blog and also by telephone. 

Once everyone has been notified, we will send the Avian Abode’s to each of the winning ticket holders by mail, or, if local, we’ll personally deliver them to the winner!

More tickets increase the chances of your name being drawn.

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LET the BIDDING BEGIN!

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

The auction items were posted for viewing yesterday and for bidding today, September 16th, that 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! 

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Many Thanks

The amount of support the Whooping cranes and Operation Migration have received from the community of Princeton and surrounding area has been nothing short of monumental. 

Those that attended the Whooping Crane Festival over the weekend witnessed this firsthand.

We kicked the festivities off with a dinner at the Green Lake Legion. Crossroads provided the catering, Cheryl Murphy provided soothing sounds on her harp, and Joe Duff provided an informative presentation following dinner. We had some fantastic silent auction items contributed by supporters up for grabs.

The Princeton School hosts Saturday’s festival and for this, we’re incredibly grateful. Principal and District Administrator, Sam Santacroce and Food Service Class teacher Joni DeRuyter are the champions of the crane cause and their student volunteers are the hero’s of the day. 

The students did everything from cooking pancakes and sausages to helping the vendors haul in supplies – all with a friendly smile and a ‘what-can-I-do-to-help’ attitude. HUGE thanks to you the maintenance staff at the school as well for helping with setup and tear-down.

We had some fantastic presenters this year. Dr. Ratering and his spectacular Gyrfalcon, Chief Highknocker shared their passion for falconry.

Dr. Ratering’s 5 yr. old Gyrfalcon, Chief Highknocker.

Montello native Daryl Christensen talked about Kirtland’s warblers and the work he is doing to aid their return to Wisconsin.

Daryl Christensen presents a PowerPoint show about his work with Kirtland Warblers.

Children’s Edu-tainer David Stokes is always a hit with kids and adults alike and he did not disappoint.

David’s show taught kids (and adults) all about the critters that share their habitat with cranes and he had a variety of turtles, snakes and frogs, which everyone got to handle (if they wanted to). Everyone also learned some sign language and laughed – a lot!

Pat and Ginny finished off the speaker’s schedule with the educational birds from The Feather rehab center in New London.

Ginny talks about the Barred owl at The Feather.

Pat and her birds have been a staple with the Crane Festival since the very early days at Necedah and we’re thrilled she is still able to join us as she always draws a crowd eager to learn about the birds.

A number of people participated in the Nature Photography Workshop, instructed by David Heritsch. This is the first time the festival committee has offered a workshop so we’re thrilled it was well received by the budding photographers. A reminder to all to submit your favorite photograph from Sunday’s outing to: cranefestival@operationmigration.org for a chance to win a $100 gift card from Amazon.com!

On Sunday, attendee’s had the opportunity to attend a presentation offered by Associate Professor, Misty McPhee with the UW Oshkosh, Environmental Studies Program and Department of Biology. Misty’s talk was titled: Reintroducing Whooping Cranes – Navigating the Roadblocks to Success.

Everyone who attended found the program very informative and, I feel, came away with a much better understanding of the hurdles the Whoopers, and the organizations working to safeguard them are facing.

We cannot thank everyone enough for their support. Volunteer’s pitched in wherever they were needed – sometimes, without being asked. Our speaker’s line-up was fantastic. The food prepared by the Food Service Class and the Princeton Lion’s club was incredible. The entire festival committee pitched in to make this year’s event one of the best yet – We’re looking forward to next year and we hope you are too!

Parent-Reared Whooper Colts

This year, the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership plans to release 12 Whooping cranes, which have been raised by adult cranes at the captive breeding centers. 

Eleven of the dozen, will come from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and one from the International Crane Foundation. This is the final group that the dedicated crane crew at Patuxent will send to Wisconsin. 

The first five arrived here at 11:30 am Tuesday on-board a Windway Aviation aircraft piloted by Mike Frakes. The fact that we’ve lost track of how many such flights Windway has made means it’s a lot. Patriarch Terry Kohler would be proud that the tradition he began many years ago with wife Mary, is carrying on.

Pilot Mike Frakes maneuvers the Cessna Caravan on the tarmac at the Oshkosh airport.

Next the side door is opened to reveal the cardboard crane crates inside. Mike said the one at the back was the crane that caused the most trouble for the crew trying to capture/crate them.

Brooke, Joe, Dr. Olsen and I loaded the five cranes into our air-conditioned van and made the 30 minute drive back to White River Marsh where each was removed from the van one-at-a-time for banding and a quick health-check.

The logic behind banding them immediately was that it would probably be more stressful for them if they had been placed inside the temporary pen and then recaptured in another day or two for the procedure. Why not get it over with and then allow them a day or two to recover.

Dr. Richard Urbanek retired in 2016 after a long career with US Fish and Wildlife Service and since his retirement, he’s been volunteering with Operation Migration. Richard has many years experience at banding cranes and we’re grateful for his support.

Each of the five Whooping cranes received a color-coded combination, which is unique to that crane and allows trackers to identify them.

Once legbands are applied and the glue has cured, each is given a brief exam by Dr. Olsen. He checks their respiration and each wing to check for possible broken feathers.

Marianne Wellington from the International Crane Foundation holds the young Whooping crane while Dr. Olsen listens for pulse and respiration.

Richard Urbanek measures the tarsus of each bird.

The tarsus (leg-bone) gives an overall indication of the size of the crane. Of these five, the largest is male number 28-17 with a tarsus measuring 331 millimeters and the smallest is male number 24-17 with a 297 mm leg-bone.

The entire procedure lasted an average of 14 minutes from the time the bird was un-crated to the time it was placed in the temporary enclosure. Each crane is hooded during the procedure to reduce stress.

Joe and Marianne head off to place this young Whooping crane inside the enclosure.

All of them are fine two days later and seem no worse for wear following their first cross-country flight and the leg-banding procedure. 

The only anomaly noticed – and one that the Patuxent crew were aware of already, is that number 19-17 is missing the tip of his outer left toe on his left foot. Colleen says it happened while quite young and while they don’t know for certain how it happened, it’s likely a result of a snapping turtle.

Whooping crane #19-17 is missing the tip of his outer left toe.

Of the five young cranes that arrived Tuesday, four are males and one, a female. The oldest hatched May 17th and the youngest of the group hatched May 23rd. 

Many thanks to everyone that participated in the banding: Hillary Thompson and Marianne Doyle from ICF, Dr. Glenn Olsen with Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, and Brooke Pennypacker, Colleen Chase, Joe Duff and yours truly. 

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Busy Days!

Sunday and Monday were jam packed busy. We let our cohort out on Sunday like we usually do. Brooke went to the blind, I released. I fetched them early at noon so Brooke could go weed whacker the area where the Parent Reared temporary bird pen would be set up. They arrived yesterday. Joe got the travel pens to camp and I scrubbed and disinfected food buckets, water tanks and buckets and foot baths. Then made sure everything that was needed was in each trailer. 

Monday morning Brooke and I switched panels from one trailer to another before switching roles for the day. He had more whacking to do so I went and hid in the woods and he released the birds. My spot in the woods is about 400 feet from the pond. So I can’t see much. I can tell they are there but that’s about it. After an hour of them being lazy I snuck out and for the first time ever left them completely alone. 

I went and helped put the pen up with Joe, Brooke and Dr. Olsen from Patuxent. Every 10 minutes or so I would check the camera to see if the birds had flown or walked back to the runway. They did great! They stayed put.

At 3 pm-ish Brooke walked out to bring them back while I watched the camera on my phone in the van and ate lunch. Suddenly he ducked down as 4 birds flew over and landed on the runway. A couple of minutes later the other 3 flew in. So I put on my costume and went to put them in.

As they all filed in I could tell #7 had a prize! A mouse! She was not about to share it either!

#7-17 catches a field mouse

A few shakes, a good dunking and gulp it was gone! 

GULP!

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2017 Avian Abode’s

And here, without further adieu, are this year’s OM Staff Avian Abode’s!

The Odd Couple: Brooke Pennypacker and Bev Paulan

Creating a novel birdhouse was a task assigned to Brooke but we all know where the talent lies in that couple.

The creative use of wine corks provides a beautiful and practical exterior to their birdhouse and maybe a little insight to one of their other favorite hobbies.

 

 

 

 

The Backyard Enthusiast: Chris Danilko

Chris’ inspiration for her birdhouse design came from her three grandchildren: Abby 7, Mikayla 5 and Thomas 4. Chris spends weekends with the trio and is continuously coming up with ideas for all to participate in and to inspire them to appreciate nature and birds.

The finished product is completely edible and can be consumed by the occupants – providing you are a bird.

 

 

 

The Vagabond: Jo-Anne Bellemer

It seems that three months on the road was not enough to dampen Jo-Anne’s wanderlust. An aspiring RV owner, Jo-Anne’s birdhouse looks like a mini Winnebago for our feathered friends. Let’s hope they don’t get too attached. We might see them heading to Florida on foot with their mobile home in tow.

 

 

 

The Birdwatcher: Heather Ray

Heather’s birdhouse design incorporates her stained glass hobby into her other favorite pastime of birdwatching. She has provided our feathered friends with a nest opportunity that is safe from the elements, while still allowing you to peek in discretely. She is also teaching the birds a life-lesson about not throwing stones.

 

 

 

Greek Weddings and Colleen Chase

We are not sure if Colleen has any Greek ancestry but her birdhouse resulted from (un)-ceremoniously breaking a lot of plates. She scoured antique stores for old dinnerware and used the smashed pieces to create a mosaic birdhouse. What better way to provide shelter to pairs of expectant parents. OPA!

 

 

 

The Intemperate: Joe Duff

The birdhouses created by the OM team likely reflect their personalities more than they care to admit.

Joe started with a simple bird shelter and kept piling complications on top. Joe never learned the lesson most important to an artist and that is knowing when to stop.

 

 

 

 

Tickets are sold in sets of 5 for $5/set.

Visit this link and select your favorite(s) from the dropdown menu. The draws will be made on October 31st at noon and the winners will be notified on our blog and also by telephone. 

Once everyone has been notified, we will send the Avian Abode’s to each of the winning ticket holders by mail, or, if local, we’ll personally deliver them to the winner!

More tickets increase the chances of your name being drawn.

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Found a Peanut, Found a Peanut…

Doug Pellerin found a Peanut last week… Whooper #4-14 that is. Along with his buddy 11-15.

The male duo had been hanging out south of Princeton, Wisconsin for much of the spring and early summer but they disappeared a few weeks ago. By sheer luck, Doug was on his was over for a Crane Festival event and he spotted two tiny white dots waaaaay out in a field in neighboring Fond du Lac County.

Luckily he has telemetry equipment with him and was able to hear the beeps from 11-15, whose VHF radio still works. Binoculars confirmed the legbands of the crane that was with him as those of #4-14 (Peanut), so it appears he’s likely been still in the area the entire time!

Here’s a photo of the two in flight yesterday…

Two Whooping cranes in flight over Fond du Lac County, WI. Photo: D. Pellerin

 

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Night at the Museum

I am absolutely convinced that, for each of us, when the lights go out and the party is over and we’re standing at the Pearly Gates hoping to get in we’ll be judged not by all the good deeds we’ve done in our lives, but rather by what good movies we’ve encouraged others to see. “A Night at the Museum” is one such movie. The night before last, our seven little “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” not only saw the movie… they were in it. Or at least their version of it.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Wednesday had been unraveling itself just fine with lots of exuberant chick activities. Their first flight after release was to Henry’s Pond, a new destination of choice for them. Henry’s Pond is a beautiful little pond/wetland complex about less than a mile south of the pen. It was so named last year by Presidential Declaration because our little rascal, #5-12, hung out there last year with his sandhill buddies. He no doubt thought it was his and his alone secret place where he could loaf around in peace and no one would come out and try to replace his dead transmitter. He forgot about the CraneCam… aka “The Eye That Never Sleeps” and after we replaced his transmitter, the pond became his place of convalescence. I trekked out to check on him a couple of times and soon discovered why “Trekking Out to Henry’s Pond” will be a new event in the next Olympics. It was more than encouraging to see our chicks make such a great habitat choice.

Then they flew back to runway and walked out to the north pond where I was waiting, sitting in the little hunter’s blind…. the one only big enough to sit in, take notes and pictures in and occasionally pass wind in. They proceed to do their usual “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” kind of things… foraging, discovering, chasing the locals away until boredom set in and they flew off. All but #2, who somehow knew nature was calling me ever louder but that I couldn’t get out of the blind to answer until she left… which she didn’t. Later, the chicks returned and continued where they had left off.

Costumed-Reared Whooping crane cohort spent the day foraging in the marsh. Photo: B. Pennypacker

Until around closing time, that is. Then they did a strange thing. They began setting up to roost for the night. “Help,” I texted Colleen, using the same letters I had been texting Mother Nature all afternoon. And soon she appeared and the chicks followed her to the runway…. where they then took off and headed directly for Henry’s Pond! This was a surprise!

I would have gotten Colleen’s text earlier had I not been answering nature’s call and learning to walk again. Then it was off to Henry’s Pond for at a peek at the goings on.

As the sun was making its exit, I saw them…. happy as clams at high tide. That’s when #2 approached costumed me in full threat posture. That’s gratitude for you, I thought. In nature, it’s all about “What have you done for me lately” and I could hear #8 call over. She’s getting her adult voice and sounds very much like a bullfrog who’s had too much happy juice. It was definitely time to go… and spend the rest of the night marveling at their mini declaration of independence.

The next day, they returned to the pen, then to the pond and it was clearly “hangover city.” They spent the entire day in comparative slow motion, zombiefied. Their “Night at the Museum” had taken its toll.  Unable to resist the opportunity to impart wisdom, I sent up the thought balloon, “You can’t hoot with the owls at night and expect to soar with the eagles in the morning.” I would save the “Say No to Drugs” speech for another day.

When I texted Colleen to come and get them at five o’clock, I wasn’t sure they would have the energy to make it back to the pen. But they did. They reentered their world of calm familiarity and security and were soon preparing for a good night’s rest.  And that’s when I said it ….

“Anyone for some Popcorn?”

Roost time at Henry’s pond. Photo: B. Pennypacker

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Goodbye, Cage Man

Last week, we said goodbye to Cage Man. Who was Cage Man? you ask. Well, I’m glad you asked that question because he is one of the unsung heroes of this project. Think of him as being like the professional athlete who suddenly joins the team roster for only a few weeks every year to help set the team’s season on a winning trajectory only to just as suddenly disappear back into obscurity without ever being in a single beer commercial. And though he’s not even on the roster long enough to rate a number on his jersey and the fans are saying “Goodbye” before they ever even had the chance to say, Hello.” By the time he leaves he’s always Number 1 in their hearts.

“But where did he come from?”

Good question, but a little difficult to answer. Legend has it that way back when in Hollywood when they were making the movie the Wizard of Oz he was one of the cast members. Trouble was, when the time came for him to sing his signature song, “If I Only Had a Voice” he couldn’t do it. You see, Cage Man was mute. He was dropped from the movie and began his long descent into obscurity.

It was not until several years ago at Patuxent that crane aviculturist Brian Clause discovered him, or what was left of him, in their scrape yard. You see, Brian needed someone to stay in the ponded pen with the chicks 24/7 and not talk or move or play with their smart phone to help get the chicks used to being alone without the costumed handlers that raised them. He went about reassembling Cage Man with pen materials… screen, conduit and all secured with wire ties. Then Brian put a costume and helmet on the old boy and hung him up in the pen for the night.

Cage man

The chicks loved him! No more all night stressful pacing and peeping. They said their prayers, crawled into their beds and slept the sleep of the innocent. Cage Man gave them the security and confidence they needed to take that next step on the road to independence. 

And so began Cage Man’s new career as a whooper chick transition specialist. We put him in charge of the place known to crane biologists as the “In Between,” the dimension which exists between costumed handler and no more costumed handler. He has presided over chick activities at the north pond for the last two weeks, teaching them, counselling them, encouraging them. And when he felt they are ready for the next step and his work is finished for yet another year, he texted us to come and get him… which is what I did.

And so began the annual ritual. I waded out into the pond, lifted Cage Man up off his supporting rod and onto my shoulder and began the long trek back to camp. As we continued, an unexpected gentle sadness weighted my steps, slowing the precession with a sense of appreciation but regret. Then, as we broke out onto the runway for the final leg home, he said it,

 “And remember to tell them… they’re not in Kansas anymore.”

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Whooping Crane Festival Weekend

The Craniacs are starting to arrive!

Check out the weekend schedule for the Whooping Crane Festival. We hope you can join us!

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Photo Round-up!

 

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Monthly Support

Monthly contributions can be processed more efficiently than single or one-time gifts, resulting in a higher percentage of your gift being directed to our work – and you are in control! At any time, you can increase, decrease, pause or stop your support, all at your convenience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Face-to-Face

A face-to-face sounds like some sort of standoff but for us it was a chance to meet with our Board, including two new Directors, and spend a weekend planning for the future of OM. We currently have a Board of six with one seat vacated when Colleen Chase took a staff position and stepped down. Jeff Weingarz from Illinois has been a long term supported and agreed to serve. Dr. Peter Smith from North Carolina is also new to the Board. He has been a supporter from the very early days.

I have met Jeff a few times before but met Peter only once many years ago. I was excited to see him but the day before he was scheduled to depart, he had a medical emergency and while we gathered in Princeton, Wisconsin, he was in surgery. Not that any operation is routine, but it seems the procedure was fairly minor. Still, we were surprised to have Peter joined us the second day by phone.

Our planning session was moderated by Jill Allread from Public Communications Inc in Chicago and she very skillfully guided us through the two day process and in the end we were charged up and eager to continue.

It is too early to talk about our plans and we have lots of work to do, but we will keep you posted. Rest assured we remain committed to Whooping cranes.

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