Understanding the Ecological Trap

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

Photo: M. Danilko

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

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

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

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

Great Tit. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

Read more…

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Cranes NEED Wetlands…

And wetlands NEED cranes…

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

Check out the latest design from Custom Ink, (which includes a secret message).

There are several T-shirt styles to choose from as well as two color choices for a lightweight hoodie that everyone has loved from our previous campaigns.

Available only for the month of March – they will be shipped directly to you approximately 2 weeks after the close of the campaign.

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Become a Whooping Crane Guardian Today!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Do Birds Play?

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

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

But what about birds?  Do they play? 

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

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Whooping Crane #5-01 – His Love Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get yours soon before they’re all gone!

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About Henry

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

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

“Why Henry?”

“Well, Jimmy… that’s a long story.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…But that’s a story for another time.

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Interesting Facts About Spring Migration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Become a Crane Guardian with a Monthly Gift

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Quiz Question Answer

The question was: Which of the following words comes from a type of bird

Forerunner – pedigree – kin – ancestor  

The correct response is…

Pedigree comes from Anglo-French pé de grue, literally, crane’s foot; from the shape made by the lines of a genealogical chart

Quiz Question!

Which of the following words comes from a type of bird:
 
Forerunner – pedigree – kin – ancestor
 
(Leave your response in the comments and check back on Saturday for the correct answer)
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Cranes NEED Wetlands

And wetlands NEED cranes…

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

Check out the latest design from Custom Ink, (which includes a secret message).

There are several T-shirt styles to choose from as well as two color choices for a lightweight hoodie that everyone has loved from our previous campaigns.

Available only for the month of March – they will be shipped directly to you approximately 2 weeks after the close of the campaign.

https://www.customink.com/fundraising/operation-migration

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Wild #1-06

I know that it’s been disappointing that the eastern migratory population hasn’t reached enough success to be considered self-sustaining; nevertheless I am so proud of Wild #1-06. She is the first EVER chick to be hatched from the reintroduced population in Wisconsin.

She is also the ONLY surviving bird left from 2006 when we lost most of the chicks, due to a storm. Thankfully, she migrated with her parents #17-02 and #11-02 to Hernando County, Florida. While trackers were originally concerned about the habitat they were using in people’s back yards, eating under bird feeders, I guess in the long run it was a better choice.

Her first spring back to Wisconsin she followed mom and dad like a good little bird and once home she packed her bags and said goodbye. Just like she’s was supposed to do.

At only age 2 she practiced building and sitting on her first nest with #10-03. She no longer spends her winter in Hernando County, FL but instead has followed her mate to Colleton County, South Carolina.

At age 5, in the spring of 2011 she hatched her first chick! Although the chick didn’t survive, it was still a momentous occasion – the first wild chick hatched by a wild chick was certainly cause for celebration. The following two years with #10-03 were chick-less.

In the spring of 2014 she acquired a new mate, #1-10; a much younger man. Maybe she felt he would make better dad material? Their first spring together didn’t produce any chicks but in 2016 they hatched two chicks that unfortunately did not survive the summer.

They tried again in the spring 2017 and hatched a chick that made it to 38 days old this time. This girl is trying so hard to add to the population.

Moppet #W1-06.

There are only 3 of the specially made moppets left, made in her honor. Maybe you could purchase one and cheer her on this spring, give her some motherly advice and send some good vibes her way.

I just can’t believe that she isn’t going to one day be a successful mother and help us on our way to creating a self-sustaining population.

During the northward migration period, moppets constructed lovingly by Mary O’Brien from costumes worn while working with the Whooping Cranes are being offered at half of the original price. There are limited numbers available so be sure to get yours soon!

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Goodbye to Old Partners – Hello to New

In 1993, Bill Lishman and I traveled to Virginia to inspect the destination of the first human-led avian migration. We were using trial and error (heavy on the latter) to teach eighteen Canada geese to follow our newly acquired, French-made trikes. Dr. Bill Sladen of Environmental Studies at Airlie, near Warrenton, Virginia would host the geese for the winter; provided we managed to get them there.

The Patuxent Wildlife Research Center was only a few miles away so Dr. Sladen gave us our first introduction to the Head or Research, Dr. George Gee. The Center is a USGS research facility but it sits on the Patuxent Research Refuge, which is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service – twelve thousand acres of forest, wetlands, rivers and ponds quietly hidden between Baltimore and Washington.

Unlike cranes that soar, geese are flap flyers with shorter wings and a large carina or keel bone to support huge pectoral muscles. They could happily flap along beside us for what seemed like hours without getting tired. That ability meant they didn’t need to surf on the wake of the aircraft so conditions didn’t have to be perfect. We flew for an hour or so first thing in the morning, rested for a bit and took off again midday.

Occasionally, we would also fly in the late afternoon. That first migration was documented by ABC’s 20/20 and took us directly over Lake Ontario, through New York State, and Pennsylvania. We clipped the corner of Maryland and West Virginia before landing at Airlie. Surprisingly, we did it in seven days, which back then, seemed like a ridiculously long time to cover 400 miles. Little did we know what was in store. 

Once that migration was over and thirteen of our eighteen geese came back to Ontario on their own, we garnered a little respect from the scientific community. We were still foreigners and non-biologists, and likely to kill ourselves in those flimsy airplanes, but the idea of using the method as a reintroduction tool began to take root. The year we did Fly Away Home with Columbia Pictures, we also raised a small flock of Sandhill cranes to see if they would fly with us. That’s when we adopted the costume idea and developed our isolation-rearing protocol. We attended the annual Whooping Crane Recovery Team meetings. I presented our results and George Gee became my first Whooping crane mentor.

Dr. David Ellis (retired) was an Animal Behaviorist with Patuxent whom I have always referred to as the real Indiana Jones. He has a colorful history, which included working in Mongolia trying to stop the illegal trade of falcons. He has wonderful stories of wandering the Mongolian Steppe building aeries for eagles while being chased by gun toting, local marauders whose truck was fortunately just a little slower than his. David has worked in fifty nations, published 170 papers and has authored four books.

David believed that we learn what not to do — by trying everything. I joined his team one fall when he used an army surplus ambulance to lead Sandhill cranes from Flagstaff, AZ to Bosque Del Apache NWR in New Mexico. The birds were conditioned to follow one of the team members who stood in the open back of the ambulance blowing a whistle. The driver tried to maintain bird speed; a constant 35 mph over winding back-roads, stop signs and all.

That’s when I met most of the crane ecology team from Patuxent. Dan Sprague and Brian Clause were there and a few others. They were young and enthusiastic and off on a great adventure. We raced the back-roads during the day and slept on the ground when the sun went down.

George Gee proposed the study plan for our first Sandhill crane migration experiment. It was designed to answer questions posed by the Recovery Team. He provided the birds from their captive flock and allowed Dan Sprague to come to Ontario for most of the summer. Deke Clarke, Rebecca Pardo and Dan moved into a tiny house that my wife and I rented on Scugog Island outside of Port Perry. We watched many sunsets from the back deck while discussing the protocols and brainstorming ideas. Dan and Brian became a big part of our team. I would spend the spring at Patuxent training birds, and they would spend the summers at my house, or later at the Necedah NWR.

Early studies with Sandhill cranes at Patuxent. We are not telling who was dressed in the costume and carrying the pretend trike.

Brooke spent more than ten years working at Patuxent in the early part of the season where he conducted the imprinting of hundreds of chicks. Of all the partners within WCEP, Patuxent and OM likely worked closest together.

Joe Duff taxis a trike with Sandhill crane chicks in 2000. Note the grey costume and the simple prop guard before we learned our lesson.

After 51 years as the largest Whooping crane captive breeding facility, the Patuxent crane program will close this year due to Federal budget cutbacks. Their collection of seventy-five birds will have to be moved out and the staff reassigned to other positions. The closing of Patuxent was rumored for years but no one expected it to happen so quickly. Had it been scheduled to occur over two years, the staff at Patuxent could have helped hatch and rear any eggs collected from Necedah or maybe produce half of their normal annual output of captive chicks.

The dispersal of the 75 birds in their flock is being managed by the Recovery Team and the Species Survival Plan (SSP). Three organizations, including the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia, the White Oak Conservation Center in Florida and the Dallas Zoo, were accepted as new breeding facilities. They join the International Crane Foundation, the Calgary Zoo, the San Antonio Zoo, and the Audubon Species Survival Center to make up the seven captive breeding facilities for Whooping cranes.

Creating a new home for Whooping cranes is not as simple as accepting the responsibility. It requires incubation capacities plus isolated, predator-proof pens with water features. The new facilities have well experienced and talented staff to manage the transport, care, hatching and rearing of a critically endangered species.

Many of the birds from Patuxent will be moved early this spring which likely means they will not breed this season – or maybe even next year. Patuxent produced the majority of chicks last year when we had enough to allow for our costume-reared seven, plus ten of the parent-reared birds and seven birds for release in Louisiana. The new partners will do the best they possibly can but we can’t expect too much in this first year of transition. That means it will likely be a lean season in terms of releasable birds.

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Quite the Menagerie!

Joe and I traveled to Port Aransas, TX last week to participate in the 22nd Annual Whooping Crane Festival.

For the past 3 years, we have flown into Corpus Christie. Each of those 3 years, our luggage has not arrived with us so this year, we decided to switch things up and save some money on airfare. Instead, we flew into Houston and drove to Port Aransas. This tactic saved us close to $300 in airfare AND we did get our luggage!

Of course, as we neared the coast, it’s only natural for us to keep our eyes open for Whoopers and we were not disappointed. As we neared Lamar, TX we spotted 3 Whooping Cranes on the south side of the highway.

Naturally, I asked Joe to turn around and I banged off a few photos on his camera. Once we checked into our rooms in Port Aransas, I downloaded those photos and was surprised to see the company the cranes were keeping.

3 Whoopers (including a banded youngster), 6 Sandhill cranes, and yes, a wild boar were all taking advantage of the deer feeder. (Click photo to enlarge)

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Reunions

The other day, the guy on the radio reported that there is a case before the Supreme Court this week dealing with… UNIONS, and frankly it’s got me more than a little concerned. I mean, without unions, there can be no reunions! And what is a migration project if not a never ending series of little reunions… connects and reconnects… of both birds and people, and all orchestrated by those masters of connectivity; our whooping cranes.

An example if this occurred last Sunday morning when our old friends and longtime Craniacs, Shelly and Cathy, stopped by for a little reunion, known in Craniac circles as a “whooper fix.” As many of you may remember, Shelly is a college biology professor and Cathy is one of our faithful CraneCam drivers. (DON’T TEXT and DRIVE!)

They were midway through their episode of “On the Road,” which started at their homes in Alabama and Indiana respectively. They rolled on down to Dauphin Island Marine Lab in Alabama, where Shelly gave a lecture on fresh water mussels (“….just put one of those little suckers between your gum and lip and Man…What a Cheeeeeeew!”). They then continued to St Marks and finally back home. We saw Cathy at CraneFest last fall but had not seen Shelly since the non-flyover here in February of 2016.

We made our way down the path through our own little Garden of Eden to the blind. On the way, we passed our new best friend, the snake.  You can’t have a Garden of Eden without a serpent. After all, it was a snake that was sole witness to the very first union… and quite a few reunions after that. “Doo dah”!

Luckily for Cat and Shelly, 5-12 and 30-16 were in the release pen.

Meanwhile, Henry (5-12) and Johnny (30-16) were out in the marsh waiting. They’re all about reunions, having just had one in December when they arrived back in St Marks.  It was like “Old Home Week,” complete with their favorite “Homies”… the white ibis, blue herons, clapper rails and…. oh yea… the raccoons.  And if snowbirding replaces snowboarding in the next Winter Olympics, our two little migrators will win the gold for sure.

We stood in the blind looking out at the lives of our whoopers while catching up on our own. And as Henry and Johnny probed the grass and mud for tasty morsels of whatever, we quietly “reunionized” with questions and answers that colored in the pages and filled in the blanks of time since our last visit. “Look… the signpost up ahead! You have entered, “The Reunion Zone.”

After an hour or so, it was time for rewind. We exited the blind… and began the long walk back to the van while the cloud of inevitable disconnection began to form, followed soon after by, goodbye hugs and “See you next time’s.”  Then, the car window smiles and waves quickly faded as Shelly’s car pulled onto Coastal Highway and disappeared down the road and into the future.

And that’s when I heard the guy on the radio report that there is a case before the Supreme Court this week dealing with…. ONIONS.  

ONIONS????!!!!!!!

Ah……!  Never mind.

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