Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Bill Lishman, Bill Lishman, Bill Lishman, Bill Lishman, Bill Lishman, Joe Duff, Endangered species, Endangered species, Whooping cranes, Whooping cranes, Sandhill cranes, Canada geese goose, Migration, Fathergoose, Reintroduction, Ultralight Flying, Jeff Daniels, Birds


 

Date:May 31, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:A POST-MEMORIAL DAY REQUESTLocation: Main Office

Today, folks are basking in the afterglow of a true American ritual - the Memorial Day long weekend. Across the nation, people are shaking the sand from their picnic blankets, admiring their gardening efforts, and returning home from visits with family and friends.

For many, the Memorial Day weekend offers the first opportunity to get outdoors to luxuriate in nature's splendor, and to enjoy the beauty of the landscape and creatures inherent to the Spring season. We hope you had a wonderful time, but before the feel-good of the weekend fades, won't you give some thought to helping to safeguarding the creatures that rely on nature and our protection of it for survival.

Please consider becoming a Monthly Donor. For as little as $10 a month you can help us ensure that part of our natural heritage - one of our most endangered species - Whooping cranes, will be around for Memorial Day weekends in the years to come.

Monthly Donors are the financial stabilizers of Operation Migration. Reliable and regular funds allow us to plan for the long term, and also enable us to respond to unexpected critical needs. Thank you for helping us to celebrate and protect Whooping cranes for our future generations.

As an added bonus, once you become a monthly donor, you will receive... our monthly E-Calendars AND a complimentary Whooping crane PageMarker as a special thank you!

The E-Calendars feature stunning photographs with a monthly calendar overlay for use on your PC or laptop desktop. We’ll send our Craniac Monthly donors a link from which to download the new image of the month to place on your PC desktop.

Here's a sample of some of the monthly E-Calendars!

June 2011

July 2011

January 2012

The PageMarker is 24 karat gold-plated and the laser cut process allows for very fine detailing on the crane. It is lightweight, yet sturdy enough to mark the page in the book you’re currently reading until you're able to return to it. The card on which it is mounted provides information about the ultralight-guided reintroduction in Eastern North America.

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 and you are in control! At any time you can increase, decrease, pause or stop your donations, all at your convenience. Each February, we will send you a year-end summary report with your total tax-deductible contribution for the preceding year.

Won’t you become a Craniac Monthly Donor? It’s easy to join and you can contribute any amount you like on a monthly basis: $10, $15, $25 – any amount you like! Visit this link to learn more or to enroll today!

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Date: May 30, 2011 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:CLASS OF 2010 SUB-ADULTS VISIT MINNESOTALocation: Main Office

The images below were captured a few days ago in Minnesota by Ben Wilson who kindly allowed us to share them with our Craniac readership. The cranes are yearling males 1-10 and 8-10. Both these handsome fellows wintered at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

 

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Date:May 29, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:KILLING WILDLIFELocation: Main Office

Like Whooping cranes, Great Blue herons are federally protected under the Migratory Species Act. Apparently they are worth more however.....at least in Arizona. Click here to read the news article

The actions of the individual identified in this news story illustrate all too sadly the futility of trying to inform and educate the imbeciles who wantonly kill wildlife.

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Date:May 28, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: NESTING/CHICK NEWSLocation: Main Office

From a report received yesterday we learned that one pair of Whooping cranes is still nesting. The active nest belongs to pair, 3-04 & 9-03* (one of my favorites) who re-nested around May 18.

The pair 12-05 & 22-07* were sitting on a re-nest up until May 22nd. A tornado passed through that evening and the following day nest was found abandoned. No eggs, or even shell fragments were found.

It appears that only two of the season's four wild hatches survive. The chicks, W3-11 belonging to 9-05 & 13-03*, and W4-11 belonging to 2-04 & D46-07*. The chick belonging to 17-03 & 3-03* is presumed dead. W2-11 was last seen on May 22nd before the tornado passed over the nesting territory. A search the next day produced no sign of the chick.

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Date: May 27, 2011 Reporter: Geoff Tarbox
Subject: MEET THE FINAL SIX CHICKS IN THE CLASS OF 2011 Location: Laurel, MD
The Class of 2011 is all in! All our chicks for this year’s migration are hatched, fired up, and getting ready for that big trip down south. We’ve got eleven birds in our happy little family. I’ve already clued you in on the first five. But what about the other six?

First of the second group is 6-11, pride and joy of Calgary. Unfortunately, I did not spend much time with him as he was hatched on one of my days off. By the time I got back, he had grown a good deal, had already been moved into his own pen, and was getting exercised outside. Sure, he still needed one-on-one work fairly often, but by the time the week was up, he was taking care of himself like a big kid.

Even now, I feel like I've barely had a chance to get know him. I guess you could say he’s pretty sharp and self-reliant if he was able to fend for himself so fast. In fact, almost none of the other chicks that hatched after him learned to eat on their own that soon. However, he still gets scared if something unexpected rears its head. He was pretty scared when he heard the trike the first few times, so Brooke and I had to work on him a extra hard to keep him calm. When we took him out there the second time he seemed much calmer and relaxed around the running trike, so I think he knows how to acclimate to scary stuff like a trike engine. He just has to be braced for it first.

Next we have 7-11. I like to consider him my greatest success story so far this year. Every family has a kid who won’t eat. I should know; in my family it was my sister. Well, 7-11 is that kid in the 2011 family. Every time we went to feed him, we would spend up to a half hour in the pen with this kid, and he wouldn’t even look at the bowl. He kept acting like we were trying to get him to eat out of the toilet.

but one day, just for giggles, I tried feeding him from outside by tapping his puppet, just to see what he would do. After all, he couldn’t do any worse. Imagine my surprise when I saw him bury his head in that bowl and scarf it down like he was in a pie-eating contest. From that point on, we had to make sure he didn’t gorge himself or choke as he did a perfect impersonation of a steam shovel (thankfully, he didn’t). I want to say he started eating on his own as soon as 6-11 did. And all I had to do was tap a string attached to a puppet. I guess he just wanted to be treated like an adult.

Now 8-11. Ahhh, 8-11. He’s going to be the thug of the season. He’s not even out in the outdoor pens and he’s already terrorizing 11-11 through the glass. Mostly, all he does is pace after him and try to jab him through the glass. Naturally, poor 11-11 tries to pace away from him toward the adult, so mostly, all they ever did all day long is walk into plexiglass. However, it’s by far the saddest action movie chase scene I’ve seen in my life. This little feud got so bad we had to set up visual barriers along the plexiglas so they couldn’t see each other. Thankfully, 8-11 seems to have grown out of menacing 11-11, but I’m already not looking forward to socializing this little punk. Is all the chicks’ lunch money accounted for? Better check again!

Now we come to 9-11. He was hatched on the same day as 8-11. When I first saw him in the ICU he seemed fairly mature for his age. Whereas 8-11 was groggy, stumbly, and barely cognizant of his surroundings, 9-11 wasn't awkward at all. He was responsive, didn’t have any real trouble eating out the bowl. Then we moved him to his own pen and to me, he seemed to make less progress then 8-11 or even 10-11.

In his defense, it was a whole new world to him, and we did throw off his routine a little. He did a lot of pacing towards his brood model (though I think she was scaring him with her constant pacing.) And he did a lot of backtracking. We’d see him eating on his own, only to find he had no idea what a food bowl was a couple hours later. But that’s okay. Even when he was eating on his own, he kept tossing out all the dark-colored crumbles. And to think I gave 7-11 a hard time for being a pickier eater than my sister!

Naturally, we had to go in his pen to feed him a lot, even when he was a week old. The same was true with 8-11, but he became self-reliant sooner than 9-11 did. On the bright side, 9-11 has adapted to his new life in his pen and now no longer needs us to keep him fed. Moral of the story: 9-11 is a bird that doesn’t like too much change. However, as long as he has something familiar to hang onto, he seems to be okay. He was timid around the trike engine, and a little hesitant going outside the first time, but once he got back in his pen, he was happy again.

On to 10-11. To be honest, #10’s always been a number I’ve been uneasy with. I still think of 9-10 every time I look at a #10 chick, and 9-10 was sort of a handful. He kept trying to break out of the ICU when he was a hatchling. He wasn’t that interested in the puppet. On migration I don’t remember him being one of the stronger fliers and he would decoy the other birds. Once he led the whole crew all over the Necedah refuge when he escaped and could not be found until the end of the day.

10-10 was an improvement, but she was always off on her own planet. I think she only understood every other thing that was going on around her as she chased after red clovers.

However, this year’s #10 doesn’t seem to have either of those problems. So far, he seems fairly level-headed and agreeable. He hasn’t been up to any mischief, and he wasn't in la-la land when I tried to get him to eat out the bowl. Early on last week, he seemed to forget how to feed himself, but he’s long since remembered. He seems to like the outdoors as I had no trouble getting him in and out of his pen. He didn’t even bolt too much when we showed him the trike. So far, I think he’s not a demanding little chick.

And finally, we have 12-11 who I like to call ‘Tiny Tim’. Much like his Charles Dickens namesake, 12-11 was hatched in a sort of fragile state. He had trouble breaking out of his egg, so he had to have an assisted hatch. As far as I can recall, it’s been at least years since I’ve witnessed a bird needing help to hatch.

Even after he hatched, he still seemed weak and fragile. He is small, even for his age, and he is a funny looking bird. His down fuzz didn’t grow in right in parts along his body, especially his head. It almost looks like he has scars all along his head (which they might be, possibly from the eggshell pushing against him).

For the longest time, he had to be tube-fed and had to be administered meds. Behaviorally speaking, he had trouble recognizing his surroundings and had trouble responding to the puppet when he was being fed. In short, he looked to me like he might go to sleep and never wake up. There were a few birds who did that in 2009, and I was half-convinced he’d do the same.

Thankfully, he’s getting stronger every day, making progress, and now he's even eating on his own. He’s still a puny, funky little guy, but I don’t think he’s ready to cash in his chips yet, which I find admirable. 

Now if you excuse me, I’m off to play a video game where I’m hunting space zombies. Yes, space zombies. You’d be a space zombie too if you were in outer space when you died and your body got infected with some alien microbe. Yes, the sad part is, there’s actually a cult that worships these things. I tell ya, they've got an organization for everything these days.

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Date: May 26,2011Reporter: Geoff Tarbox
Subject:MEET THE FIRST CHICKS IN THE CLASS OF 2011Location: Laurel, MD

Some of you may remember me saying that last year would be my last year? Well, I lied. I can do that… I’m evil. But that has to be our little secret because I don’t need the chicks I’m currently trying to raise get any wrong ideas about me.

Speaking of the chicks, now that I’ve had some time to get to know them, why don’t I introduce them to you all. [Note: The gender of the chicks won’t be known until they are older so for the purpose of this posting, Geoff refers to them all as ‘he’.]

 

 










 

First is the oldest 1-11, a Patuxent produced chick. He started off being fairly neurotic.
Between him and 2-11, it was more common to see him pacing after Sadie the brood model.
She’s always been a popular mama who seems to enjoy her work, so it’s easy to see why he’d want to get her attention.

However, 1-11 is a savvy little chick and usually he can figure out what it is you’re trying to get him to do. I’ve never had much trouble getting him to eat out the bowl or drink out the jugs (especially drink out the jugs!).

It’s always refreshing to meet a chick who has an idea of how to play the game. Ever since he started eating on his own, he seems to have leveled out some. He wasn’t too scared of the trike when Brooke first started the engine, and as always, he learned pretty fast not to run from the trike. I guess maturity only comes with age.

 

 


Next is 2-11 who is also a product of the Patuxent captive population.

I see him as an introverted 1-11. While he started off calmer than 1-11, I don’t think he got the picture as much as 1-11 did. I always had to spend a little more time with him eating and drinking. And Patuxent’s Sharon Marroulis has had to do extra work with him to get him to go in and outside.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this makes him a dumb chick. From what I’ve seen, his learning curve’s actually fairly average for a chick his age. Not everyone can be the brain trust 1-11 is.

However, unlike his older classmate, it seemed to me that 2-11 got more jittery as he got older. When 1-11 seemed to stop pacing after Sadie, 2-11 started pacing after her or the costume more. And, as the week went by, it wasn’t uncommon to hear him peeping more than 1-11 did. The peeping isn’t a problem so long as he’s not pacing, and even then, it’s only a problem if he’s losing weight. But since he’s still maintaining a healthy weight, whatever worries him from time to time doesn’t seem very serious.

I just hope he flies better than 2-10 from last year did. ‘Cause when we tried to get last year’s #2 chick to fly, a different kind of number two flew instead - usually, right into the nearest proverbial fan.

 

Up next is 3-11, who I think is the brains of the flock. Thus far, he’s been a fairly sharp little chick.
It doesn’t take him long to catch onto the swing of things. For instance, it didn’t take him long to figure out how to drink. Back when he was in the ICU, he would drink out of the gold bowl at least five times a session.

Once he got to his own pen, he started drinking out of the small jug like a pro. One time I counted him gulping down roughly twenty sips of water. Usually, it’s a trial to get a chick to drink half that much.

Also, I started trying to feed him outside by dangling the puppet rather than going in to feed him. From what I’ve seen, I think he’s coming around nicely. Sometimes he’ll wail on the crane puppet like Rocky Balboa wailing on a slab of beef, but he still takes enough time out of beating up the puppet to grab a good meal.

Personally, I think we can expect good things from this kid. And as a side note, his brood model is none other than last years #2-10. Small world, huh?

 

Next is the moody 4-11, sibling to 3-11. I have to give this chick credit; this guy gave me one of the most memorable feedings I’ve ever had.

Thus far, I’ve had no trouble to get him to drink from his little jug. I’m not ashamed to say that I got him to drink eight times in one sitting. That all seemed to go out the window around three o’clock on Saturday, May 7th though. Oh sure, I could get him to eat out the bowl with no trouble - at one point, he was eating out of it on his own. For a chick that was a mere two days old at the time, that’s not bad. But for love nor money he would not go near either the big or the small water jug. It was as if those jugs had grown a second head.

I read in his write-up sheet that sometimes he only drank from a gold bowl he used back when he was in the ICU. But I wouldn’t have any of that. I figured if I could get him to drink out of a jug once, I could do it again. That mentality held out for a good twenty minutes.

At wit’s end, I grabbed his gold bowl, which was lying just outside his pen. I took it back to the kitchen to fill it up with some nice, cool, clean water. By the time I got back, I found him drinking out the large jug completely on his own like it was his best friend in the whole wide world. And to think that no more than two minutes before, I could barely get him to look at it. All I could do was shrug my shoulders and shake my head. Kids! I tell ya!

 

And last but not least in this update is 5-11 fresh from Calgary. He hatched the morning of May 7th.
Initially, if I was asked to describe him a single word, it would have been ‘comatose’. He was moved to an ICU around noon that day, and for the longest time, I reckon he stayed awake only for about 45 minutes and not necessarily consecutive.

Once he was settled into his new home, I went in to introduce him to the puppet and help him eat as much I could. He lost interest however, and fell asleep in about three minutes flat. Seeing as this was the first time he’d seen the unfamiliar puppet, and that he didn’t really know where on earth he was however, I wasn’t expecting any miracles.

The second time I came in, I got him to weakly acknowledge the puppet and eat a few nibbles before he zonked out. Again, for a chick who was just hatched just you can’t expect much, but for the rest of the afternoon, he would spend a few minutes drinking and eating off my puppet before giving consciousness the finger.

I hoped he’d get better as the day progressed. But he may just have needed more time than I was giving him. Besides, he did eat more on each occasion I worked him, so he at least warmed up to the puppet.

 

Now if you excuse me, I’m off to play a round of Dungeons and Dragons. My character has been cast in a huge theatrical production in the town of Westcrown (long story). But those jerks don’t know who they’re messing with. I just hope I don’t blow my lines as I fend off a pair of troll skeletons the director turned loose onstage.

Tune back in tomorrow to read about the rest of the chicks in the Class of 2011...

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Date: May 25, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:THE CLASS OF 2011Location: Main Office

To say that to date this has been an unusual and stress-filled beginning to the year is a gross understatement. Anxiety over finding and securing an appropriate alternate flight training site in time for the season's start, coupled with worry about black flies and nest abandonments, was followed by concern over the extraordinarily low egg production by the captive populations at Whooping crane propagation centers.

In past years each of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership's (WCEP) two reintroduction programs, Direct Autumn Release (DAR) and Ultralight-led, submitted their requests for the number of eggs they would like to have allocated to them. Then, it was a matter of hoping for the best in terms of there being adequate egg production to accommodate their requests. When egg production couldn't meet requested levels, the Canada/US Whooping Crane Recovery Team (WCRT) and WCEP's Project Direction Team (now re-formed into the Guidance Team) were tasked with coming up with some version of a proportional allocation.

In 2010 the addition of a third reintroduction program, the establishment of a non-migratory flock in Louisiana, meant there were fewer eggs than ever available for allocation to WCEP programs in that year. In 2011, the now three way competition for eggs was further compounded by the very low levels of egg production. Requests from the three reintroduction programs for 2011 egg/chick allocations totaled 48. With only 26 chicks anticipated to survive out of a projected maximum of 35 hatches, the WCRT faced an uncommonly difficult dilemma.

In an attempt to keep all three reintroduction programs viable, the Recovery Team's final egg/chick allocations, made just yesterday, were:
Louisiana - 16 eggs for a projected 12 chicks
DAR - 8 eggs for a projected 6 chicks
Ultralight - 11 eggs for a projected 8 chicks

While OM staff in the persons of Brooke Pennypacker and returning Intern Geoff Tarbox have been working with the Crane Chick Crew at Patuxent since the beginning of May, we have not posted any Field Journal entries regarding hatches due to the uncertainty of the number of chicks - and which chicks - would be designated for the ultralight-led migration program.

Now, with the final determination having been made, we can at long last update our undoubtedly anxious Craniac audience with information on the Class of 2011.

Legend:
PAX = U.S.G.S Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD
EMP = Eastern Migratory Population (egg collected from failed nest)
CAL = Calgary Zoo, Alberta, Canada
ACRES = Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, New Orleans

CHICK #

EGG ORIGIN

HATCHED

1-11

PAX

April 28

2-11

PAX

April 29

3-11

EMP (Pair 3-04 & 9-03*)

May 4

4-11

EMP (Pair 3-04 & 9-03*)

May 5

5-11

CAL

May 7

6-11

CAL

May 8

7-11

EMP (Pair 16-02 & 16-07*)

May 9

8-11

ACRES

May 11

9-11

EMP (Pair 5-05 & 15-04*)

May 11

10-11

EMP (Pair 7-03 & 26-07*)

May 12

12-11

ACRES

May 14

Watch here Thursday and Friday for Field Journal entries by Geoff Tarbox with insights into the personalities of the 2011 chicks as well as their first 'student' photos.

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Date:May 24, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:TORNADOESLocation: Main Office

The news is full of the devastation and loss of life as the result of tornadoes in several states including Wisconsin. We thank you for your messages expressing concern for people, Whooping cranes, and habitat there. We will post any news or reports we receive regarding the well being of the Whoopers in the Eastern Migratory Population here.

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Date:May 23, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: ANNOUNCING SPECIAL MILEMAKER SPONSORSHIP THANK YOULocation: Main Office

If you check back here on Tuesday/Wednesday, we expect to be able to share the news about the ultralight-led Class of 2011.

In addition to photos of the latest generation of chicks, we'll have insights into their personalities and progress as provided to us by Intern Geoff Tarbox. Along with Brooke Pennypacker, Geoff is working with the Chick Crew at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center's Laurel, Maryland facility.

In the meantime, won't you take a minute to become a MileMaker sponsor and help fund the fall ultralight-led migration of the Class of 2011?

This year's MileMaker sponsors will have an opportunity to receive something very special. The names of all MileMaker sponsors will be entered into a MM Sponsors' Thank You Gift Draw which will be held at the end of the 2011 migration.

The Thank You Gift? OM's multi-talented Richard van Heuvelen has donated one of his fabulous metal sculptures for us to use as a Thank You gift. Richard's one-of-a-kind sculptures have sold for thousands of dollars, so you won't want to miss this opportunity to be entered for chance to own one of his valuable and unique pieces of artwork. (Representation of chick sculpture is shown in photo to the right. To see more of Richard's phenomenal metal sculpture art visit his website, The Wooden Anvil.)

MileMaker Sponsors' names will be entered in the Thank You Gift Draw as follows:
1 entry per quarter mile sponsorship
2 entries per half mile sponsorship
4 entries per one mile sponsorship
Those individuals who prior to today became 2011 MileMaker sponsors, have already had their names entered into the Thank You Gift Draw.

MileMaker sponsorships in 2011 are: $182 for one mile; $91 for a half mile; and $45.50 for a quarter mile. It's fast and easy so why not use the following link and become a 2011 MileMaker sponsor right now!!

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Date:May 22, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:BANDED WOOD BUFFALO-ARANSAS CRANES Location: Main Office

According to reports, all 12 of the Whooping cranes banded last year have completed the spring migration to their nesting grounds on Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP) located in Canada's Northwest Territories, a journey of almost 2,500 miles.

The 12 cranes, the first of a planned 60 to be banded with radio transmitters, have now completed both a fall and spring migration. While some took just 14 days to travel from the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to WBNP, one slowpoke sub-adult took 69 days. It appears for the most part however, the average flying time equaled about 11 days, reflecting the shorter time that some Whoopers spent at stopovers along the way.

While more than 60 Whooping cranes have disappeared during their migrations over the last three years, just two carcasses have been recovered, leaving the cause of majority of mortalities a mystery. Eventually, one of the recently banded birds will meet its fate on migration and the GPS it carries will allow biologists to locate the carcass and determine the cause of its demise.

Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists will visit Wood Buffalo National Park in August to band 12 more of the Whooping cranes in this population.

The annual nesting survey at WBNP was completed last weekend and the results should be available in the near future. It will be interesting to see whether or not the population will break 2010's record of 72 nesting pairs.

In a recent article in the Slave River Journal, CWS biologist Rhona Kindopp noted that, "The whooping cranes have continued expanding their nesting range outside of WBNP. A third pair of whooping cranes established themselves for the first time this year on Salt River First Nation reserve land."

Kindopp told the Slave River Journal that, "....whooping cranes are territorial, returning each year to the same nesting area – roughly four square kilometers [~1.6 square miles]. New nesting pairs must find a place to nest away from other birds, meaning that as the population continues to grow their nesting grounds will also spread."

For more details on the banding of cranes in this population, see our Field Journal entry of May 1st. You will also find a link there to an article on this new conservation effort.

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Date:May 21, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:THE NESTING SCORECARDLocation: Main Office

For those of you who follow the activities of particular Whooping cranes in the population - we know many of you have your favorites - here is a summary of the spring season's nesting activity. The tables below were compiled from the various reports that have come to us so far.

HATCHES

Parents

Chick Hatched

Status

10-03 & W1-06*

Wild1-11 on May 9

Chick disappeared by the next day

17-03 & 3-03*

Wild2-11 on May 9

Surviving as of May 20.

9-05 & 13-03*

Wild3-11 on May 10

Surviving as of May 20.

2-04/D46-07*

Wild4-11 on May 16

Surviving as of May 20.

 

Top Left
Parents 17-03 & 3-03* with chick Wild2-11.

Top Right
Parents 9-05 & 13-03* with chick Wild3-11.

Bottom Left
Parents 2-04/D46-07* with chick Wild4-11.

Our thanks to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR) pilot, Bev Paulan, for these images. Bev captured these photos on an aerial reconnaissance flight she flew on  Thursday, May 19th.

WI DNR and Windway Capital conduct aerial surveys over  the Necedah NWR and surrounding area on alternate weeks.

FAILED NESTS

Pairs

Failure Date

Remarks

12-05 & 22-07*

April 23

Only shell fragments found.

16-02 & 16-07*

April 24

1 egg collected.

31-08 & D27-05*

April 29

1 egg collected.

24-05 & D42-07*

April 29

2 eggs collected.

5-05 & 15-04*

April 29

2 fertile, viable eggs were collected.

13-02 & 18-02*

April 30

No info provided

3-04 & 9-03*

April 30

Two eggs collected.

7-03 & 26-07*

May 4

2 fertile, viable eggs were collected.

3-07& D38-08*

May 4

No salvageable eggs found.

7-07 & D39-07*

May 4

2 eggs collected, 1 fertile but not viable, and 1 infertile.

8-04 & 19-05*

May 5

No eggs were salvaged.

1-04 & 8-05*

May 7

2 eggs were destroyed before they could be collected.

11-03 & 12-03*

May 8

No eggs salvaged.

11-02 & 30-08*

May 12

1 fertile egg with dead embryo was collected May12.

12-02 & 19-04*

May 15

2 infertile eggs collected after overlong incubation.

RE-NESTING

Pairs

Re-Nest Initiated

Remarks

12-05 & 22-07*

May 18

 

ACTIVITY BY OTHERS

Other Pairs

Nest Building Reported

Nesting Reported

14-08 & 24-08*

Yes

No

33-07 & 5-09*

Yes

Yes. Initiated between April 30 - May 3.

16-04 & 4-09*

Yes

No

D27-06 & 26-09*

No

No

13-07 & D36-09*

No

No

10-09 & 17-07*

No

No

18-03 & D36-09* 

No

No

6-05 & D37-09*

No

No

27-08 & 8-09*

Yes

No


 

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Date:May 20, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: CORRECTION (HAPPILY)Location: Main Office

I'm happy to correct the Nesting/Chick update below in which it was noted that a second chick had disappeared. I totally misinterpreted the information in the narrative of the report we received.

I am relieved to tell you that not two but three of the four wild-hatched chicks still survive. My apologies for mistakenly giving you such bad news.

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Date:May 20, 2011 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: NESTING/CHICK UPDATELocation: Main Office

As of yesterday's report, just one re-nest had been initiated - that of pair 12-05 & 22-07*. It is believed to have been active now for two or three days. Other pairs are being monitored to discover any further re-nesting efforts.

It appears that a second hatchling is missing as the report received last evening noted that only the chicks belonging to pairs 9-05 & 13-03* and 17-03 & 3-03* still survive. By deduction, that means that the chick from pair 2-04 & D46-07* is the second young one to disappear. W1-11, the chick produced by 10-03 & W1-06* was last seen the evening of May 9th.

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Date: May 19, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:ANOTHER SURPRISE FROM FLORIDA'S #1343Location: Main Office

Perhaps you've been wondering what has become of #1343, the Florida Non-Migratory male Whooping crane who accompanied 19-05* north when she departed on her spring migration.

Believe it or not, he is back in Florida!

Without a transmitter, trackers had to rely on sightings for #1343's location(s) in Wisconsin. He was observed in Juneau County, WI on April 22nd and 23rd, but is believed to have arrived there with 19-05* on April 17th. By April 25th the 'Harlequin Romance' was over and 1343 became a jilted suitor when 19-05* hooked up once again with her old mate, 8-04.

The pair bond of 19-05* and 8-04 had dissolved while they wintered in Alachua County, Florida. When spring rolled around, 8-04 headed back north on his own and he arrived back in Wisconsin ~March 29th. It was during the closing days/weeks of the wintering season that 19-05* was seen on multiple occasions associating with #1343.

It was astonishing enough to have a seven year old non-migratory crane suddenly decide to migrate north, but equally surprising (or maybe it is less surprising than we know) is that he has turned around and returned to Florida. He was sighted on May 3rd, and confirmed as being in Lake County, FL on May 5th. If the ultralight-led migration program didn't already provide enough evidence that Whooping cranes only need to be shown a migratory route once, this episode is proof positive.

1343, with his then mate 1348*, nested for the first time in 2010 and hatched two chicks, raising both to at least 15 days of age. Subsequent to losing his two 2010 chicks - likely to predation - 1343 also lost his mate. Although no remains were ever found, Marty Folk, Biological Scientist with the Florida Fish & Conservation Commission and godfather to the Florida Non-Migratory Population said that given their nesting location on Paynes Prairie and the prevalence of alligators there, being predated was almost certainly her fate as well.

After losing his first mate 1343 paired with #1644*, who he left behind when he flew off to Wisconsin with 19-05*. Marty confirmed to me yesterday that immediately on his return to Florida, 1343 picked up right where he left off with 1644*.

When I asked him about the chance of the pair nesting this late in the season, Marty said, "Although it is possible of course, with water levels so poor and not conducive to nest building I'd be surprised if they did. As a result of current habitat conditions I guess I'd have to rate the chances of them nesting as slim."

With all this drama, who needs daytime Soaps!

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Date:May 18, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:ANOTHER HATCHLocation: Main Office

We're delighted to be able to report that a fourth chick has hatched at the Necedah NWR. The pair 2-04 and D46-07* hatched one chick on May 16th.

At last word no re-nests have been initiated as yet. With some nest failures occurring as long as 20 days ago however, re-nests will soon be possible.

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Date:May 18, 2011 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:EASTERN MIGRATORY POPULATION UPDATELocation: Main Office

Compiled from data provided by WCEP trackers, this update gives the last known locations of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) as of May 14th. The EMP consists of 54 males and 51 females for a total of 105 cranes. The population number does not included recently hatched chicks.

Legend: * = Female; DAR = Direct Autumn Release crane; & = Pair; NFT = Non functional transmitter. (Note: Whooping cranes not listed in this update have completed their Spring Migration and are back in Wisconsin.)

In Michigan
Jackson County: D37-07

In Indiana
Kosciusko County: 27-07*NFT

Spring Migration
3-10*, 9-10*, and 17-10 have remained along the Green/Lafayette County border, Wisconsin since arriving April 24.

10-10* A report from Jefferson County, WI on May 8-14 may have been this bird, however, no signals were detected in the area during a ground search on May17.

15-10 and 16-10* completed migration May 8 when they landed in Juneau County, WI.

D23-10* and D26-10 left a migration stop in Scott County, Indiana April 30 and were detected on Necedah NWR on the evening of May 2.

Wisconsin Notes:
1-01 has been occasionally associating with 14-09*.

W1-10* remained in Monroe County throughout the report period.

W3-10* was found May 12 at Horicon NWR, Dodge County with 29-08 and 18-09.

1-10 and 8-10 moved from Wood County on May 1-2 but returned to an earlier location in Marathon County by the night of May 2 where they remained until at least May 7. PTT readings for 1-10 indicated presence in Buffalo County on the night of May 9 and low precision readings on the night of May 11 indicated a roost location in Goodhue County, MN. High precision readings on the nights of May 12 and 15 indicated continued presence there.

Location Unknown – missing more than 90 days
D33-05*NFT last reported March 6/10 - Jackson County, IN
7-01*NFT last reported May 2/10 Fond du Lac County, WI
16-03 NFT last observed May 6/10 - Necedah NWR
14-05NFT last observed May 18/10 - Necedah NWR
20-05*NFT may have been the crane reported May 24 - Jackson County, WI
13-07NFT last recorded Nov. 24/10 - Meigs/Rhea Counties, TN
13-09 last reported Dec 2/10 - Citrus County, FL

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Date:May 17, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:MILEMAKER 2011 LAUNCHES TODAY!Location: On The Road

With the ink still drying on the necessary agreements for Operation Migration to perform it's summer flight training at White River Marsh State Wildlife Area (WRM SWA), and chicks popping out of eggs in the captive population, it is finally time to launch this year's MileMaker campaign.

The MileMaker sponsorship sign-up pages have been posted to our website. Once the map of the migration route (on which the sponsorships received are charted so you can follow how many miles of the 2011 migration have been sponsored) has been altered to reflect our new training site location, it will also be posted to the Site Map webpage.

As in previous years, the cost of sponsorship of a migration mile is based on the last season's expenses. We divide that number by the number of migration miles to come up with the figure for the following year. In a time when the costs of just about everything are spiraling upward, we are pleased to be able to tell you our 2010 migration expenses went down. In fact, we reduced 2010's migration expense by 9% over 2009's.

Factors effecting the decrease included:
- a shorter migration, 73 days versus the 89 days in 2009.
- reduced expenses for Top Cover
- reduced grocery bills due to the many meals provided by stopover hosts
- paring down of the migration team and number of accompanying vehicles
- lastly and as always, penny pinching as much and wherever possible.

As a result, MileMaker sponsorships in 2011 will be: $182 for one mile; $91 for a half mile; and $45.50 for a quarter mile. Click this link to become a 2011 MileMaker sponsor.

We can never say it often enough - without you, our generous and loyal MileMakers, there could be no ultralight-led migration. Heartfelt thanks from OM to all of YOU.

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Date:May 16, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: WOOD BUFFALO-ARANSAS POPULATION COUNT Location: On The Road

Biologists in Canada's north will be counting the Whooping cranes and their nests this coming weekend to find out how many returned from Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

In a recent article appearing on CBC Canada's website, biologists say the expansion of the territory being used by Whooping cranes to areas beyond Wood Buffalo National Park is a sign of the population's recovery.

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Date:May 15, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:IMBD MAGICALLocation: On The Road

Yesterday, International Migratory Bird Day, (IMBD) gave us an opportunity to celebrate birds and bird conservation. And once again, Operation Migration was lucky enough to do its celebrating at Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK). It is hard to imagine there are many organizations that do a better job of connecting birds and habitat than the Disney folks, or that there is a better place to be on IMBD than at Animal Kingdom.

We had a terrific time speaking with hundreds of adults and kids that stopped by our exhibit, but as usual, it was Disney's many cast members - some old friends, and some new - that made it an even more awesome and happy experience. It is rare to meet so many dedicated, generous, and congenial people. Without fail the Disney cast 'wow' us each year and we salute and send thanks to all the very special friends who made our time at DAK 'magical'.

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Date:May 14, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:NESTING UPDATELocation: Florida

In addition to Wild1-11, the first hatch of the season and the chick of pair 10-03 and W1-06*, there have been two other chicks hatched. (W1-11 has not been seen since the evening of May 9th. A search made of the chick’s last known location on the morning of May 10 was unproductive.) The pairs 17-03 & 30-03* and 9-05 & 13-03* each hatched a chick on May 9th and May 10th respectively.

According to the last report received, only one nest, that of 2-04 & D46-07*, remains active on the refuge, and no re-nests have yet been initiated. The remaining active off-refuge nests belong to very young birds and the expectation of production of a viable egg(s) is low.

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Date:May 13, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:TWO MORE WILD HATCHESLocation: Florida

The Good News:
     Two more wild chicks have appeared on the landscape this week but who their parents are has not as yet been reported.

The Not So Good News:
     W1-11, this year's first hatched chick could not be seen with its parents yesterday and may have gone missing.

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Date:May 13, 2011 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: WHOOPERTHON 2011Location: Florida

Once again this year Super Craniac Vi White of Illinois is running her annual "Whooperthon". Each year on Mother's Day, Vi, ably assisted by daughters Ellen and Lynn, go birding and ask folks to pledge an amount per bird species they spot that day. This year they decided to simplify things by skipping the pledge process and just ask folks to calculate their donation based on the number of birds they sighted.

As you can see from the list below, this year's Mother's Day outing produced a total of 34 sightings.

Great Egret

Hairy woodpecker

White-crowned sparrow

Great Blue Heron

Blue jay

Rose-breasted grosbeak

Canada Goose

Purple martin

Northern cardinal

Mallard

Northern rough-winged swallow

Red-winged blackbird

Turkey vulture

Barn swallow

Common grackle

Red-shouldered hawk

Black-capped chickadee

Brown-headed cowbird

Ring-billed gull

White-breasted nuthatch

Northern oriole

Rock dove

Blue-gray gnatcatcher

House finch

Mourning dove

American robin

American goldfinch

Chimney swift

European starling

House sparrow

Red-bellied woodpecker

Black-throated green warbler

 

Downy woodpecker

Chipping sparrow

 

If you'd like to support Vi's efforts, she requests that you to multiply any amount of your choosing by the 34 species sighted and send your check made out to Operation Migration to:
Vi White
2250 Greenfield Drive
Glenview, IL 60025

On June 10th Vi will forward all the checks she has receive to OM.

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Date: May 12, 2011Reporter: Joe Duff
Subject:RAMPING UP TO SPEEDLocation: On The Road

The time between January and April is supposed to be our down time but it never works out that way.

By then the migration is finally over and the next generation of chicks has yet to hatch so, with very little field work taking place, we should have time on our hands. But all those special projects that we can never hope to tackle during our busy times, are often rescheduled to that supposedly slower season.

Just when we think we have time to breathe a little, we are faced with a long list of projects on top of all the regular stuff like the organization’s year end and an annual budget of the next one. We also have an edition of our magazine, "INformation” to produce, grant reports to write, an entire season to account for and a new one to plan. This year an extra burden was added that raised the stress level along with the workload.

The Canada / US Whooping Crane Recovery Team stated that no more birds would be released into the Necedah area until the cause of the recurring nest abandonment has been identified and managed. It could take a couple more seasons to test the theory that Black flies are causing the problem and even if conclusive evidence is found, the long term use of chemical controls has been ruled out by the refuge.

No one within the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership is prepared to give up on these birds just yet. We have accomplished far too much to end it now so all the alternatives were explored. The most logical option was to find a new site but it had to be far enough away to be out of the range of Black flies that seem to be concentrated around Necedah, yet close enough so that the birds we add are still part of the same flock and not a separate population.

Time was crucial because standing down for a year while a new site was found and developed would be disastrous for the birds. Even if it was only for one year, it wouldn’t be until the end of the second season that more birds could be reared and released. That would mean almost two years of attrition in the population. It would also mean the loss of momentum for all the field teams that conduct the work.

But relocating the entire project was not simple. The WCEP Science and Research Team, led by Jeb Barzen of ICF, surveyed much of central Wisconsin, looking at all parameters like vegetation, water area and food resources. From all of that hard work they identified seven possible sites in a region they referred to as the Wisconsin rectangle.

At that point the Wisconsin DNR took the lead and examined variables like public use, jurisdiction, proximity to developed areas, hunting seasons, and the capacity of the wetlands to accommodate nesting pairs in the future. That review narrowed the search to three possible sites. After that, ICF and OM visited the sites to see how they would work for the fields teams.

It only took a paragraph or so to describe that process, but to get it done took several months and a champion effort by all the teams involved. The WCEP Science Team, manned mostly by ICF researchers did an impressive job of correlating data from a hundred sources to produce a map that highlighted the best possible sites. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources pulled together large teams of biologists, land managers, program managers, regulators and endangered species specialists to evaluate those sites. They also hosted the meetings, organized the site visits and managed the permitting process.

Each member of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership plays a critical role in this project, and throughout its history, one team or another has stepped forward when needed to carry the load and meet the challenges we faced. This time the credit belongs to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for seeing us through a crisis that could have ended the project and threatened the future of the Eastern Migratory population.

The White River Marsh State Wildlife Area near the town of Berlin became the main focus when it was chosen as the location for a training site for the Class of 2011. The Wisconsin DNR acquired the initial approval, and developed an Agreement outlining the conditions under which the land may be used for the project’s purposes.

OM received that Agreement yesterday, which leaves just one approval still to be put in place before it will be our turn to step forward and begin the site preparation. A wet pen, where the birds can learn to roost in water at night will be the first job. We will bring in some heavy equipment to dig a shallow depression to hold water. Then we will build the wet pen around it and the dry pen next to it. We will add the feeding stations, an observation blind, and food storage area. The next step will be leveling and mowing a runway.

Once the bird facilities have been completed, we will start looking a location to store the aircraft. We will need to prepare a runway and set up a portable hangar similar to the storage units you see with a steel frame covered with weatherproof fabric. All of this will have to be completed before the first birds arrive in late June.

All of this is challenging but none of it is impossible. In fact, with partners like the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, there isn’t much that is.

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Date:May 11, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:OFF TO SEE 'THE MOUSE'Location: On The Road

À la Dorothy and Toto who went off to see the Wizard, Joe and I are off to see 'The Mouse'. Like Madonna, Cher, Liberace, Elvis, and Bono et al, whose celebrity is so huge they are known by only one name, when one speaks of 'The Mouse' the world knows it is the one and only Mickey Mouse.

Yes, it's that time of year again. The month of May ushers in one of our favorite celebrations - International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) which this year falls on Saturday the 14th.

Every year since 2006, Operation Migration has been a guest at Disney's Animal Kingdom for IMBD, and our display and presence there is just one of the many special things the land of magic offers its thousands of visitors that day. As in the past, we will set up at Conservation Station where you will see one of our trikes and our display booth framed by a riot of hibiscus, palm trees, and the gigantic animal motif floating over the entrance to Rafiki's Planet Watch.

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) is the only granting organization that has supported Operation Migration and our work with the Whooping crane every single year since the project's inception. DWCF’s many other supports to the project aside, from pensite construction and winter monitoring assistance to vet services, its financial contributions to OM over the years total more than $200,000!

In Joe's words, "The support and encouragement we have received from Disney on so many levels has helped make the Whooping crane reintroduction project the success it is. It's a classic example of cross-species synergy; a little mouse helping out an endangered bird."

So - - we're off to see The Mouse. Why don't YOU come see us - and of course Mickey and all his pals too? Joe and I, as well as some of our longtime Disney friends like Scott Tidmus and Alex McMichael will be on hand to greet you. Don't disappoint us...we'll be expecting you!

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Date: May 10, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:WE'RE GREAT-GRANDPARENTS!!!Location: On The Road

The first wild hatch of the 2011 season records a second major reproduction milestone for the Eastern Migratory Population.

Wild 1-06*, who in 2006 became the first wild migratory Whooping crane chick to be hatched in the U.S. in more than a century, has in turn produced offspring.

Male 11-02 and his mate, 17-02*, two cranes from the ultralight-led Class of 2002, were dubbed 'The First Family' when they hatched two chicks in 2006. The second chick, Wild 2-06, sibling of Wild1-06, disappeared in late summer and was presumed predated. (Matriarch 17-02* was the Whooping crane shot and killed in Indiana in 2009.)

The First Family parents successfully migrated south with their chick in the fall, and after wintering together, the family returned north in the spring.

Once W1-06* matured, she pair bonded with 10-03, a now eight year old male from the Class of 2003. Together they made us proud great-grandparents when their nest produced this season's first chick. The little one will likely carry the moniker W1-11, but as the first chick of a third generation of reintroduced Whooping cranes in a population struggling with nesting issues, I think it should be more appropriately be known as "Hope".

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Date:May 9, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:CELEBRATE IMBDLocation: Main Office

Wisconsinites are urged to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) May 14th at Madison's Henry Vilas Zoo.

Since 1911, the Henry Vilas Zoo, located in the heart of Madison, Wisconsin, has been a free venue for adults and children to learn about animals and conservation. This coming Saturday, the AZA accredited zoo is hosting a special event for International Migratory Bird Day from 9:30am to 5:00pm as part of its 100th Anniversary celebration. Among others taking part are the International Crane Foundation and Operation Migration.

There will be a number of activity stations set up around the zoo including a migratory bird coloring station, a bird feeder making station, a face painting station, a bird banding station, along with the booths of Operation Migration, and the International Crane Foundation.

Zoo volunteers will be out on grounds for kids to see bio-facts and learn about birds. Kids can get a passport from the information booths, or from one of the stations, and then “migrate” around the zoo to each station to collect stamps for their passport.

Attendees can take advantage of four presentations being offered in the Visitor's Center but space is limited so claim your spot early.
1:00 – North American Cranes - Cully Shelton from the International Crane foundation will discuss crane natural history, North American conservation initiatives, whooping crane reintroduction efforts, migration routes, citizen science activities (Annual Midwest Crane Count), and migration activity.

2:00 – Radio Telemetry and Tracking – ICF Staff (Cully Shelton, Matt Hayes, Eva Szyszkoski) will explain purpose of radio telemetry, radio tracking techniques, and play capture a crane role-play and radio telemetry search-find activity.

3:00 - Bird Banding- Mara McDonald from the Bicore Prairie Bird Observatory on Campus will be giving a talk on bird banding, and its roll in tracking migrating birds.

4:00 - Birds at the Zoo - Zookeepers Jess Thompson and Amy Schilz will be giving a talk about some of our zoo’s birds. We will have a few of our feathered friends joining us for a keeper chat on how we take care of these flighted creatures.

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Date:May 8, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:VIDEO VIEWINGLocation: Main Office

Two videos have recently been made available that may be of interest to both Craniacs and the general public.

The first, provided by Ashley Spratt is a, "Be Sure Before You Shoot" video to help people identify distinguish between Sandhill cranes and Whooping cranes as well as other species. Ashley is with USFWS in Minnesota and is a member of WCEP's Administration and Communication Team.

The second is a 10 minute video simulating a flyover of the Wisconsin River Basin from the river's headwaters to where it connects with the Mississippi River. Beth Keinbaum of WI DNR sent us this one and she challenged us to 'spot the ultralight'. See if you can.

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Date:May 7, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:EMP NESTING UPDATELocation: Main Office

There was little new in this week's report that came from the Necedah NWR on nesting. Comparing this report to the last, about the only new piece of information was that there were two additional nest failure/abandonments. These were the nests of 7-07 & D39-07* and 7-03 & 26-07*, both of which failed on May 4th and once again appear to have coincided with a temperature rise, and an apparent increased presence of black flies.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (with pilot Bev Paulan), and Windway Corporation (with ICF/WCEP spotter Eva Szyszkoski), continue perform aerial nest surveys on alternate weeks. The most recent survey was flown by Windway Friday, May 6th, so hopefully a report of the results of that reconnaissance will be in soon.

The updated chart below was compiled from recent reports from all sources and includes corrections made by NNWR to data they previously reported. Assuming accurate incubation dates - which are not always easy to determine - and also assuming the pairs continue to stick with their nests, we could have the first wild hatches of the 2011 season as early as tomorrow.

ACTIVE NESTS ON MAY 6

INCUBATION BEGAN

17-03 & 3-03*

April 8

10-03 & W1-06*

April 8

1-04 & 8-05*

April 9

12-02 & 19-04*

April 11

9-05 & 13-03*

April 12

11-03 & 12-03*

April 14

11-02 & 30-08*

April 16

2-04 & D46-07*

April 19

8-04 & 19-05

April 25

14-08 & 24-08*

Not reported

33-07 & 5-09*

Not reported

NEST BUILDING REPORTED

16-04 & 4-09* (as of previous report)

PAIRS WITH NO ACTIVITY REPORTED

D27-06 & 26-09*

13-07 & D36-09*

10-09 & 17-07*

18-03 & D36-09* 

6-05 & D37-09*

FAILED NESTS BY MAY 6

FAILURE DATE

REMARKS

12-05 & 22-07*

April 23.

Only shell fragments found

16-02 & 16-07*

April 24.

One egg collected

31-08 & D27-05*

April 29.

One egg collected

5-05 & 15-04*

April 29

Two eggs collected

7-07& D39-07*

May 4.

Began incubation April 25.

13-02 & 18-02*

April 30

Failure to be confirmed.

7-03 & 26-07*

May 4.

Egg collection not reported

3-04 & 9-03*

April 30.

Two eggs collected

3-07 & D38-08*

May 4.

Egg collection not reported.

24-05 & D42-07

April 29.

Two eggs collected. (Sib pair)

 

Date: May 6, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:SAFE BUT DEVASTATEDLocation: Main Office

Since the devastating tornadoes swept through several states we've spent considerable time reaching out our migration stopover hosts, property owners, and the many friends we've made along the route.

Gradually, we've been able to contact most of them, all the while worrying about those from whom we didn't get a quick response - despite recognizing the cause could be power outages or loss of telephone services and cell phone towers.

Responses to our inquiries after their safety and well-being still continue to trickle in, but we are relieved to be able to report that so far, none 'in our circle' lost their lives or suffered the kind of devastation that sadly befell so many others.

The National Weather Service estimated 266 tornadoes sweeping across seven states in the 24 hour period from Wednesday to Thursday killed more than 340 people. As of the past weekend, officials in the hardest hit state of Alabama reported a death toll of 250, more than 2,000 injured or hospitalized, and an unknown number people missing.

The northwestern corner of Alabama, where OM's annual fall migration crosses from Tennessee, experienced winds of 175- 200mph as the tornado cut a swath three-quarters of a mile wide and 25 miles long before moving on into the Tennessee Valley.

Our friends in central Alabama reported the 80-mile-long, 1.5 mile wide tornado that tore through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham had winds of at least 165mph. Thankfully, despite damage and property losses, everyone we've managed to reach in that region is okay.

The town of Russellville, near our Franklin County, Alabama stopover site, escaped with minor damage compared to communities in the surrounding area. Hackleburg, ~23 miles south of our Franklin County stopover, was reported to have been hardest hit in that part of the state with devastation comparable to Tuscaloosa's.

Just 12 miles south from our stopover, almost half of the 1,000 residents of the small, rural town of Phil Campbell have been displaced. More than 700 out-of-town volunteers have now registered to help there, including some of our amazing Craniacs who live in the area.

OM team members have already committed to contribute to the relief effort in Alabama. If you would like to help out as well, here are two links we found to websites listing relief agencies. Tornado Relief and Samaritans Purse.

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Date:May 6, 2011 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:EASTERN MIGRATORY POPULATION UPDATELocation: Main Office

This update, compiled from data provided by WCEP trackers, gives the last known locations of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP). With the removal of 27-09, missing since April of 2010, the EMP now numbers 105 consisting of 54 males and 51 females. The population number does not reflect the presence in Wisconsin of Florida Non-migratory crane #1343.

Legend: * = Female; DAR = Direct Autumn Release crane; & = Pair; NFT = Non functional transmitter. (Note: The Whooping cranes not listed in this update have completed their Spring Migration and are back in Wisconsin.)

In Florida
Alachua County: 14-09 was present March 28 but not detected April 5.

In Michigan
Jackson County: D37-07

In Indiana
Kosciusko County: 27-07*NFT

On Spring Migration
D32-09*was in Montgomery County, IN March 3 but not seen there March 4.

Location Unknown – more than 90 days
33-05*NFT/DAR last reported March 6/10 - Jackson County, IN
27-09 effective this report deemed a mortality and removed from population number
7-01*NFT last reported May 2/10 Fond du Lac County, WI
16-03 NFT last observed May 6/10 - Necedah NWR
14-05NFT last observed May 18/10 - Necedah NWR
20-05*NFT may have been the crane reported May 24 - Jackson County, WI
13-07NFT last recorded Nov. 23/10 - Meigs/Rhea Counties, TN
13-09 last reported Dec 2/10 - Citrus County, FL

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Date:May 5, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:MORE WOOD BUFFALO-ARANSAS FLOCK NEWSLocation: Main Office

Subsequent to a conversation with Walter Wehtje of The Crane Trust, Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge was able to give us an update on the Wood Buffalo-Aransas Population.

Tom told us that all the radioed cranes are now in Canada. He said that on either May 2nd or 3rd, the last remaining radioed crane in the U.S. left North Dakota and flew to Saskatchewan. He noted three interesting items in his report:
- "The two radioed adults that will be nesting in Wood Buffalo National Park are 8km apart and apparently staying on their nesting territories.
- One of the radioed juveniles flew all the way to Wood Buffalo National Park, then reversed course and returned to Saskatchewan near Prince Albert - a huge distance of back-tracking.
- One sub-adult is actually west of Wood Buffalo National Park near Fort Providence, N.W.T."

If you missed our earlier posting re the placement of transmitters on 11 of the cranes in the western population you can click here to read an article by Dr. Chavez-Ramirez on this new Whooping Crane conservation effort.

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Date:May 4, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:ABOUT NESTS AND EGGSLocation: Main Office

The total number of pairs that have nested so far this season is a 'whooping' 24. Five of those nests belong to very young birds and understandably as a result, no eggs have been produced.

Twelve of the 19 remaining nests were still active as of Tuesday afternoon, which, if you do the math, means that there has been 7 nests that have failed or been abandoned.

So far, 8 eggs have been collected from failed/abandoned nests and transferred to ICF for incubation. Four of the 8 eggs were shipped to Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland yesterday. These include:
- 2 eggs from the failed nest of 5-05 & 15-04*
- 1 egg from the failed nest of 12-02 & 16-07*
- 1 egg from the failed nest of 3-04 and 3-09* (which was already pipping)

It is possible that the 4 other eggs will also be shipped to Patuxent on Thursday. They would include:
- 2 eggs from the failed nest of 24-05 & D42-07*
- 1 egg from the failed nest of 31-08 & D27-05* (sibling pair)
- a second egg from the failed nest of 3-04 and 9-03*

31-08 & D27-05* were no longer nesting by April 21. 12-05 & 22-07* and 16-02 & 16-07* abandoned on April 23 and 24 respectively. Interestingly, the other four abandonments occurred April 29/30 coinciding with a 20 degree jump in temperature that could possibly have prompted a black fly bloom. No doubt we'll learn potential causes in due time.

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Date:May 3, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:NESTING NEWSLocation: Main Office

The chart below, prepared from the weekly report from the Necedah refuge, shows there are 14 active nests. However, other information we've received indicates that by the end of last week just 12 active nests remained, bringing the number of abandonments to five. All eggs collected from abandoned nests have been taken to ICF for incubation - number to be confirmed.

PAIRS NESTING

INCUBATION BEGAN

REMARKS

13-02 & 18-02*

April 12

Still nesting April 29.

17-03 & 3-03*

April 8

Still nesting April 29..

3-04 & 9-03*

April 9

Still nesting April 29.

11-03 & 12-03*

April 14

Still nesting April 29.

9-05 & 13-03*

~ April 12

Still nesting April 29.

12-02 & 19-04*

April 11

Still nesting April 29..

1-04 & 8-05*

April 9

Still nesting April 29.

10-03 & W1-06*

April 8

Still nesting April 29.

7-03 & 26-07*

April 10

Still nesting April 29.

2-04 & D46-07*

April 19

Still nesting April 29..

11-02 & 30-08*

April 16

Still nesting April 29.

3-07 & D38-08*

April 12

Still nesting April 29.

7-07& D39-07

Unknown

Seen nesting April 21.

24-05 & D42-07

Unknown

Seen nesting April 21.

PAIR

FAILED OR ABANDONED NESTS

REMARKS

12-05 & 22-07*

Nest abandoned April 23.

Only shell fragments found

16-02 & 16-07*

Nest failed April 24.

One egg collected

31-08 & D27-05*

Failure to be confirmed

No longer nesting April 21

5-05 & 15-04*

Nest abandoned April 29

Two eggs collected

??

Pair's identity not known/reported

 

NEST BUILDING REPORTED

NO ACTIVITY REPORTED

8-04 & 19-05*  Nest discovered April 26.

D27-06 & 26-09*

16-04 & 4-09*

13-07 & D36-09*

5-09 & 33-07 No longer nest building Apr. 21

10-09 & 17-07*

 

14-08 & 24-08*

 

18-03 & D36-09* 

 

6-05 & D37-09*

The chart will be re-posted with any corrections/updates received.

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Date:May 2, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: CONSERVATION & BIRD SPENDING RESULTS FOR 2011Location: Main Office

This report just in from May's BIRDING COMMUNITY E-BULLETIN.

The federal budget battle and bird conservation were discussed in the E-bulletin in March and April. The final FY2011 spending bill, enacted on 15 April, was devastating to bird-related conservation issues, but fortunately less drastic than in earlier proposed versions (e.g., H.R. 1).

Essential programs, such as the funding for the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA), the State Wildlife Grants, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) were initially recommended for elimination, or drastic reductions, in the original House-passed H.R.1. Instead, they were “only” drastically slashed, with some of these and similar programs receiving cuts of one-third the 2010 levels.

Consider these numbers:
The North American Wetlands Conservation Fund ended up at $37.5 million, down 21 percent from FY10 ($47.65 million), but up from $0, proposed in the original H.R. 1.

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program is to be funded at $62 million - a reduction of 31 percent from 2010 (i.e., $90 million) and the lowest level for the program in its 10-year history. This is up from $0 proposed in H.R. 1.

Funding for LWCF was put at $301 million - a 33-% reduction from last year, but up from $244 million proposed in H.R. 1.

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act was reduced to $4 million, a reduction of 20 % from $5 million last year.

The Wetlands Reserve Program, a crucial Farm Bill element, is reduced $119 million from FY10.

EQIP, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, is reduced $80 million from last year.

The Conservation Stewardship Program, another USDA effort, is reduced $39 million.

At the agency level, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will have to function with a $118-million drop in its overall operations budget.

Most of the anti-conservation riders originally attached to H.R. 1 were removed from the final bill. This includes one that would have undercut the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to restore protections for certain wetlands and streams. Still, the final budget bill includes language that would undermine EPA’s efforts to reduce pollution from mountaintop coal mining and mercury emissions from power plants; stop the BLM’s new Wild Lands Policy (issued in late December and clarifying how BLM lands with wilderness characteristics are to be inventoried, described, and managed); and remove gray wolves from Endangered Species protection in a number of states.

With the battle over FY2011 ended, deep concern mounts over how drastic the budget cuts might be for FY 2012.

For more details, see the summary from the Wildlife Management Institute.

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Date: May 1, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: MIGRATIONS - EASTERN and WESTERNLocation: Main Office

Eastern Migratory Population (EMP)
It appears that 5-10 and 6-10, two of the ultralight-led Class of 2010 that wintered at the Chassahowitzka NWR, finally completed their Spring migration late last week. At least that was the first occasion that their signal was picked up and it indicated they were somewhere over/on the Necedah refuge.

Wood Buffalo-Aransas Population (WB/AP)
From a report prepared by Jeanine Lackey and Aransas NWR Whooping Crane Coordinator, Tom Stehn, we learned that only two of the last ten yet-to-migrate Whooping cranes that were observed on the April 13th aerial census were still present by April 17th. While it is possible the two could still be at Aransas, they were not located on a subsequent check.

Jeanine and Tom's reported noted, "Based on observed departures at Aransas, the migration appeared to be about a week early this spring. However, those 'early birds' encountered blizzards in the Dakotas in the middle of April that slowed their migration down."

Since March 4th, confirmed sightings in the western population's flyway compiled by the Cooperative Whooping Crane Tracking Office (CWCTO) in Grand Island, Nebraska, totaled 45. The Tracking Office also recorded 18 unconfirmed and 5 probable sightings. The confirmed sightings indicated locations by state as follows: Nebraska - 19; North Dakota - 11; South Dakota 8; Kansas - 4; Oklahoma - 2; and Montana - 1.

Mark Bidwell of Environment Canada, (and replacement for recent Canadian Wildlife Service retiree Brian Johns on the Canada/US Whooping Crane Recovery Team) said that several Whooping cranes have been confirmed in Saskatchewan. "The first sighting in Canada occurred on April 11th, and on April 15th, The Crane Trust reported that the first of the eleven radioed cranes had barely crossed the border into extreme southern Saskatchewan."

By April 21st, less than a week later, a total of five of the eleven radioed birds were in Canada, and by April 25th, the first radioed crane in the WB/AP had arrived on the population's nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP). "By that time, two other Whoopers were nearing WBNP, four were in Saskatchewan, while the remaining four were spread out between Nebraska and North Dakota. By April 28th, a total of four of the radioed birds had reached Wood Buffalo, six were in Saskatchewan, and one had just departed Nebraska and migrated into North Dakota."

This past season is the first time in 25 years that Whooping cranes in the Wood Buffalo-Aransas Population have carried telemetry equipment. In a project headed by Dr. Felipe Chavez-Ramirez and carried out by The Crane Trust, two of the western flyway migratory cranes were captured at Aransas and nine at Wood Buffalo and were fitted with GPS transmitters so they could be tracked by satellite.

A top research priority of the Canada-US Whooping Crane Recovery Team, the project is funded by the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, The Crane Trust, and the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center.

Quoting the project's announcement last year; "Since the 1950s, 474 WB/AP Whooping cranes have died, with 37 carcasses recovered, and cause of death determined in only 17 instances. With the loss of 21.4% of the flock in the 12 months following April 2008, it is imperative that we learn more about Whooping crane mortality."

Click the following link to read an article by Dr. Chavez-Ramirez on this new Whooping Crane conservation effort.

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Date: April 30, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:NESTING UPDATELocation: Main Office

Here's a chart with information on nesting activity for Eastern Migratory Population that we are aware of as of today. However, an aerial survey by Wisconsin DNR was being conducted yesterday, so there may be more news by the first of the week, and we hopefully the report from the refuge for the week will be available by then too. (For prior year's nesting history see the entry for April 25th below.)

Legend: * = Female; ^ = Deceased; D = Direct Autumn Release (DAR)

2011
NESTING PAIRS

TRACK RECORD

13-02 & 18-02*

Incubation began April 12. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.

17-03 & 3-03*

Incubation began April 8. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.

3-04 & 9-03*

Incubation began April 9. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.

11-03 & 12-03* Incubation began April 14. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
9-05 & 13-03* Incubation began with new mate since April 12. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
5-05 & 15-04* Incubation began April 10. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
12-02 & 19-04* Incubation began April 11. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
1-04 & 8-05* Incubation began April 9. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
31-08 & D27-05* Incubation began April 18. Three days later were no longer sitting on their nest.
10-03 & W1-06* Incubation began April 8. Nest not checked April 21.
16-02 & 16-07* Incubation began April 7. First timers. Nest failed, 1 egg collected April 24th, viability unknown.
7-03 & 26-07* Incubation began April 10. First time nesters. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
2-04 & D46-07* Incubation began April 19. Nest not checked April 21.
11-02 & 30-08* Incubation began April 16. Nest not checked April 21.
3-07 & D38-08* Incubation began April 12. First time nesters. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
7-07& D39-07 Incubation start date unknown. First timers nesters. Seen sitting on nest April 21.
24-05 & D42-07 Incubation start date unknown. First timers nesters. Seen sitting on nest April 21.
8-04 & 19-05* Discovered with a nest April 26.
12-05 & 22-07* Seen sitting on a nest April 21 but no longer nesting.
   

 

Nests 'under construction'

16-04 & 4-09* Reported to be nest building. No report on April 21.
5-09 & 33-07* First timers. No longer building/sitting on a nest April 21.

NO ACTION
Still 'no action' by the following other pairs in the population:

10-09 & 17-07* A new pairing. 17-07* began associating with 10-09 in March of 2011.
13-07 & D36-09* 13-07 chose D36-09* as his travelling companion for his 2010 southward migration. He wasn't detected after departing Wisconsin. Perhaps wintered in Kentucky with his lady friend.
D27-06 & 26-09* D27-06 and 26-09 began keeping company late last year while on migration and they wintered together on the male's territory in Alabama.
14-08 & 24-08* 14-08 wintered in Citrus County, FL with 24-08* and 27-08 but by spring migration they had paired and made the trek back north together.
18-03 & D36-09* 

No nesting activity

6-05 & D37-09*

No nesting activity

Note: Wondering what happened to #1343, the Florida non-migratory male that 19-05* lured back north with her? Well, we now know for sure he made the entire journey. He was seen in Juneau County on April 22nd not far from a 2009 male and three other EMP cranes, one of which was W3-10.

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Date: April 29, 2011Reporter: Joe Duff
Subject:ALL FOR A BUCKLocation: Main Office

“Sticker shock” is an expression that aptly describes our outrage at the escalating prices of just about everything. That is especially true for those of us who remember when a cup of coffee was a buck and you could pay for a tank of gas with what you had in your pocket. Now, coffee is a five dollar latte and plastic is the only way to carry enough money to refuel even one of the family cars.

Inflation is like gravity. It is a constant pressure that has made a dollar measly and hardly worth carrying. But lately that lowly greenback has experienced a resurgence prompted in part by the court system of Indiana.

Now for a buck you get to legally shoot a Whooping crane and snub your nose at the laws designed to protect it. Your dollar can buy the fifteen years of experimentation that it took to develop a technique for teaching birds to migrate. For your small fee you can negate all the lobbying that was needed to put the permits in place, and the years of work to raise that bird from an egg and prepare it for release into the wild. For one dollar you get to kill one of only 405 that exist in the wild and hold up the dead carcass of a creature whose lineage extends back sixty million years.

But your dollar buys more than just an ordinary endangered species. Instead you get to kill the bird that produced the first migratory Whooping crane chick to hatch in the United States in over one hundred years. Your trophy is the first bird to teach its offspring to migrate along a route it learned from us. For your dollar you can buy off the hopes and dreams of the school children who donated their change to save it, and the tears of those who mourn its loss.

The court responsible for convicting two young people of killing Whooping crane number 17-02 has received so many objections that they issued a press release to justify their penalty of a year of probation and a one dollar fine. On the question of retribution, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Gregory S. Carter stated that they couldn’t determine who to pay it to and they really didn’t believe it had a value of $100,000. There are three non profits within the partnership all capable of accepting funds, and the cost of developing this project, rewriting the laws to make it possible, and raising the birds far exceeds $100,000. Seems they didn’t try very hard.

Although the courts don’t agree, there a lot of people we can blame for this crime. We can blame the kid who shot the bird. Yes, he was a juvenile, but If he is old enough to carry a gun he should be old enough to know better. Not knowing what kind of bird it is does not justify killing it. We can blame his friend Wade Bennett. He is over 18 and should be teaching his younger friend right from wrong, not lying for him.

We can also blame the prosecutors. The law was designed to protect juveniles from the consequences of mistakes they make before they reach the age of common sense. It was not meant to be a get-out-of-jail-free card. We can even blame the Judge for not requiring community service, or wildlife conservation education, or mandatory attendance at a gun club where he would learn the principles of good hunting.

Mostly we can blame a system that places such a low value on wildlife. Many people have dedicated their lives to saving this bird from extinction. Unfortunately the Court of Vermillion County Indiana has as little respect for their efforts as it has for Whooping cranes.

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Date: April 28, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:CRANIAC MONTHLY DONOR CLUBLocation:Main Office

Last month we launched our Craniac Monthly Giving Club! and an impressive number of folks have signed up. The Monthly Donor Club is easy. It’s flexible and It’s convenient but most of all it is rewarding. Your monthly gift will help ensure that we are able to continue our work to safeguard Whooping cranes and continue our education and outreach.

To launch this new initiative, once you become a monthly donor, you will receive... E-Calendars AND a complimentary Whooping crane PageMarker as a special thank you!

The E-Calendars feature twelve stunning photographs with a monthly calendar overlay for use on your PC or laptop desktop. We’ll send our Craniac Monthly donors a link from which to download the new image of the month to place on your desktop.

Here's a sample of some of the monthly E-Calendars!

April 2011

July 2011

January 2012

The PageMarker is 24 karat gold-plated and the laser cut process allows for very fine detailing on the crane. It is lightweight, yet sturdy enough to mark the page in the book you’re currently reading until you're able to return to it. The card on which it is mounted provides information about the ultralight-guided reintroduction in Eastern North America.

Monthly giving provides a reliable, low-cost stream of revenue that sustains our ongoing programs. It is a cost-effective, reliable and a consistent source of funding for Operation Migration and the work we do.

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 and you are in control! At any time you can increase, decrease, pause or stop your donations, all at your convenience. Each February, we will send you a year-end summary report with your total tax-deductible contribution for the preceding year.

Won’t you become a Craniac Monthly Donor? It’s easy to join and you can contribute any amount you like on a monthly basis: $10, $15, $25 – any amount you like! Visit this link to learn more or to enroll today!

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Date:April 28, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: UNSUCCESSFUL NESTLocation: Main Office

First time nesters, 16-02 & 16-07*, weren't on their nest when it was checked this past Sunday. One egg was removed from the nest but unfortunately the egg was already cold and as a result unlikely to be viable. (Photo below top left)

The photos that appear in this Field Journal entry were taken from Windway Capital's aircraft by WCEP Tracker Eva Szyszkoski, during an aerial survey conducted on April 21st. The area inside the red squares has been color enhanced to make the nests more visible. Evidence of the recent snowfall the area experience is still visible.

The nest of 16-02 & 16-07*, abandoned since this photo was taken, was located in the Sprague Pool area on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. The nest of 13-02 & 18-02* is located not far from the West pensite formerly used by OM for one of the cohort of chicks taking flight training in preparation for the annual migration.
Above:
D42-07* takes her turn on the nest while her mate, 24-05 forages some distance away.

To the Right:
Mate 9-05 is no where to be seen but 13-03* continues to diligently incubate the egg(s) in their nest.

The pen at OM's former Canfield training site can be seen in upper left hand corner of the photo. As we have seen it happen in the past, the entire pen and the area that was used as a runway are totally underwater.

 

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Date:April 27, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: PROSECUTING ATTORNEY RELEASES STATEMENTLocation: Main Office

It appears that there has been sufficient public commentary and questions raised regarding the outcome of the prosecution of the individual(s) involved in the 2009 shooting of female Whooping crane #17-02 in Indiana to prompt the Vermillion County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney to make a public statement.

The Press Release issued by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Gregory Carter was headed, "STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO THE PROSECUTION AND CONVICTION OF THOSE INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED IN THE DEATH OF A WHOOPING CRANE ON DECEMBER 1, 2009."

Click here to read Mr. Carter's Press Release.

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Date:April 26, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:NESTING UPDATELocation: Main Office

This morning we received the results of the aerial nest survey conducted April 21st.

Based on the aerial survey results is this summary -
-  14 nests were being actively incubated with 3 other nests which were not checked still being potentially active.
-  1 young pair is no longer nesting and a second young pair is no longer nest building.
-  5 pairs nesting status is either unknown or was not reported.
-  3 pairs have yet to initiate any nesting activity.

The details of this new data have been added (in green) to the nesting chart in April 25th's Field Journal entry below.

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Date:April 26, 2011 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: The Price of a Whooping CraneLocation: Main Office

In an blog titled, "The Price of a Whooping Crane" that appeared April 22nd on the website "The Drinking Bird", the author, identified only as Nate, wrote about the recent shootings of Whooping cranes. In his piece, the writer had some strong words for both the offenders and the justice system which appears to be failing a struggling species.

Use this link to be taken to The Drinking Bird website to read his article.

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Date:April 25, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:EMP NESTING NEWSLocation: Main Office

As promised, here's the latest news on nesting for the Eastern Migratory Population.

Legend: * = Female; ^ = Deceased; D = Direct Autumn Release (DAR)

2011
NESTING PAIRS

TRACK RECORD

13-02 & 18-02*

2006 – Nest failed but two eggs taken and hatched in captivity. Chicks^ became members of the ultralight-led Class of 2006.
2007 – Multiple nests failed. One egg taken and hatched in captivity. Chick 17-07 became member of the ultralight-led Class of 2007.
2008 – One egg collected from abandoned nest.
2009 – Initial nest and re-nest failed.
2010 – Initial nest failed. Re-nest produced non-viable egg.
2011 – Incubating since April 12. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.

17-03 & 3-03*

2006 – 17-03 nested with deceased mate 3-02* (killed by a predator on the NNWR in July 2006) but lost their egg(s) to a predator.
2007 – 17-03 paired with 3-03*, nested and re-nested. One egg was collected from re-nest.
2008 – Nest failed.
2009 – Initial nest failed. One egg taken from re-nest hatched but chick died.
2010 – Third nest attempt produced two chicks. One disappeared in June and the other died in July of unknown cause.
2011 – Incubating since April 8. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.

3-04 & 9-03*

2008 – Nest failed.
2009 – Initial nest failed. Two eggs taken from failed re-nest produced two chicks which became members of the ultralight-led Class of 2009. (6-09 and 8-09)
2010 – Initial nest failed. Re-nest hatched two chicks. One, W1-10, survived to migrate with parents.
2011 – Incubating since April 9. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.

11-03 & 12-03* 2008 – One egg collected from failed nest.
2009 – Nest failed.
2010 – Produced two eggs, one hatched, but chick later disappeared.
2011 – Incubating since April 14. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
9-05 & 13-03* 2008 – 13-03* with former mate 18-03 produced two eggs that were collected from their abandoned nest.
2009 – 13-03* with former mate 18-03 initial nest and re-nest failed.
2010 - 13-03* with former mate 18-03 nest failed.
2011 – Incubating with new mate since April 12. (In the fall of 2009 #13-03* was seen associating with 9-05 and apparently has now discarded former mate 18-03 in favor of this male. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
5-05 & 15-04* 2008 – Nest failed.
2009 – Nest failed.
2010 – Nest failed. Two eggs taken, one hatched and became 3-10, a member of the ultralight-led Class of 2010.
2011 – Incubating since April 10. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
12-02 & 19-04* 2008 – Nested no production.
2009 – Hatched W1-09 but it did not live to fledge.
2010 – Fledged W3-10 who successfully made Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 migrations.
2011 – Incubating since April 11. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
1-04 & 8-05* 2009 – Nest failed.
2010 – Nest failed. One egg collected.
2011 – Incubating since April 9. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
31-08 & D27-05* 2010 – 27-05* with former mate 12-04^ produced two eggs and hatched one chick which later disappeared.
2011 – Incubating since April 18. These birds were no longer sitting on their nest April 21.
10-03 & W1-06* 2009 – Nested. No known outcome.
2010 – Nest failed.
2011 – Incubating since April 8. Nest not checked April 21.
16-02 & 16-07* 2011 – First time nesters. Incubating since April 7. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
7-03 & 26-07* 2011 – First time nesters. Incubating since April 10. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.
2-04 & D46-07* 2010 – Produced one infertile egg.
2011 – Incubating since April 19. Nest not checked April 21.
11-02 & 30-08* 11-02’s first mate 17-02*^ was shot in Indiana in 2009. He has since paired with 30-08*. 11-02 & 17-02  were the parents of First Family chick Wild1-06.
2011 – New pair incubating since April 16. Nest not checked April 21.
3-07 & D38-08* 2011 – First time nesters. Incubating since April 12. Still sitting on nest as of April 21.

 

Nests 'under construction'

16-04 & 4-09* 2011 – Reported to be nest building. (16-04 has a new mate after losing 9-02*^ subsequent to her injuring her right leg in May 2008.) No report
5-09 & 33-07 2011 – Nest building. First timers. These very young/inexperienced birds were no longer building/sitting on a nest April 21.
7-07& D39-07 2011 – Nest building. First timers. Seen sitting on a nest April 21.
24-05 & D42-07 2011 – Nest building. First timers. Seen sitting on a nest April 21.

NO ACTION
There has been 'no action' reported as yet by the following other pairs in the population:

12-05 & 22-07* 12-05 has been associating or paired with 22-07* since the fall of 2009.
Seen sitting on a nest April 21.
10-09 & 17-07*  A new pairing. 17-07* began associating with 10-09 in March of 2011.
No Report
8-04 & 19-05*  The Harlequin Romance is over. 19-05* traded in boyfriend #1343, the Florida non-migratory male she lured north, for her old hubby, 8-04.
No nesting activity.
13-07 & D36-09*  13-07 chose D36-09* as his travelling companion for his 2010 southward migration. He wasn't detected after departing Wisconsin. Perhaps wintered in Kentucky with his lady friend.
No Report
D27-06 & 26-09* D27-06 and 26-09 began keeping company late last year while on migration and they wintered together on the male's territory in Alabama.
No Report
14-08 & 24-08* 14-08 wintered in Citrus County, FL with 24-08* and 27-08 but by spring migration they had paired and made the trek back north together.
No Report
18-03 & D36-09* 

No nesting activity

6-05 & D37-09*

No nesting activity

Note: As mentioned in yesterday's posting, as exciting as all the nesting news is, it is important to keep in mind that some of the nesting pairs are very young and inexperienced birds. As for the 'no action' duos, other than pair 8-04 & 19-05 and the males of two other pairs, all are very young birds and may not have the hang of things yet.

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Date:April 24, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:DID THE BUNNY RABBIT BRING MORE EGGS?Location: Main Office

We know we have numerous nests, 15 at last count with four other pairs reported to be nest building, (12 pairs nested in 2010) but what we are left with after that knowledge is questions to which we wish we had answers. Like, how many eggs - and how many will be viable? Will the parents stick with the nests? What effect will the Bti application have on the projected early May black fly bloom?

And still more questions like: How many chicks will be hatched? How many will survive? Although only two wild 2010 chicks survived to fledge and migrate south with their parents, between initial nests and re-nests, seven were hatched successfully.

Patience not being one of my virtues, I find myself counting and re-counting the number of incubation days left for the nesting pairs.

However, before we all get too excited about potential egg production it is important to keep in mind that some of the nesting pairs are very young and inexperienced birds. Of the known nesters and nest builders, one crane in seven of the pairs just turned four, and in three cases is paired with a bird equally as young or younger. One is paired with a 2007 classmate, one with a three year old (2008), and one with a crane from the Class of 2009.

Two, 2008 cranes are nesting, and one from hatch year 2009. The likelihood of successful egg/chick production from such very young and experienced cranes could be considered unlikely and a terrific surprize.

Check back tomorrow for a posting with the identity of the known nesters along with a summary of their nesting history.

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Date: April 23, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:LOUISIANA WHOOPING CRANE REINTRODUCTIONLocation: Main Office

Today is what the media would call a slow news day, so I spent the early morning hours doing some web surfing for information on how Whooping cranes were faring other than those in the Eastern Migratory Population. I chanced upon some data on the newly released Louisiana cranes, so will share that with you here.

L1-10*, is a female and the oldest of the ten cranes in this reintroduction program. She was hatched from an egg produced by a pair in the captive population at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. L2-10* is also a female and was hatched the same day as her 'pal' L1-10.

Illustrating the international nature of every effort that is being made to safeguard Whooping cranes, male L3-10 is one of four 'Canadians' in the group. His parents who reside in the captive population at the Calgary Zoo in Alberta, Canada. He is just one day younger than #L1* and #L2*.

Mr. L4-10 is described as 'big and handsome' and characterized as being a dominant crane. His origin was Patuxent. L5-10 is a sister of Calgary chick L3-10.

A chick hatched June 2nd, 2010 from an egg rescued from an abandoned nest of a pair of Whoopers at the Necedah NWR was allocated to this program and became L6-10*. It seems she was an independent little critter evincing no attachment to her costumed handlers.

L7-10* wins the prize for being the closest to her origin. She came from an egg produced at the Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans.

The third Calgarian in the group, L8-10 was hatched June 4, 2010 and although described initially as 'a meanie', he eventually socialized successfully.

A sister to L8-10 and hatched one day later is L9-10*. Her addition to the Louisiana reintroduction brought the Calgary Zoo's contribution to this effort to a total of four chicks.

Last but not least is the youngest chick, L10-10*, who emerged from her shell at Patuxent on June 9, 2010.

Click here to be taken to our Field Journal entry of April 14th where you will find a link to a video of the Louisiana flock being released into the wild.

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Date:April 22, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:NESTING HISTORYLocation: Main Office

The much hoped for report on nesting activity wasn’t received yesterday and now that the Easter weekend has begun we’re not expecting a report until the first of next week. At this point all we can tell you is that there could be as many as 18 nests currently active. As we wait for the weekly 2011 nesting season's report to arrive with an updated count and the identity of the pairs, here’s a refresher on past years nesting activity.

Legend: * = Female, ^ = Deceased

2005

OUTCOME

1-01 & 2-02*^

Egg destroyed by predator.

11-02 & 17-02*^

Abandoned nest. Egg taken by predator.

2006

 

1-01 & 2-02*^

Nest failed.

11-02 & 17-02*^

Nested and re-nested. Two chicks – W1-06* and W2-06^.

13-02 & 18-02*

Nest failed but two eggs taken and hatched in captivity. Chicks^ became members of the ultralight-led Class of 2006.

17-03 & 3-02*^

Nest failed. Eggs lost to a predator.

2-03^ & 9-02*^

Nest failed.

2007

 

13-02 & 18-02*

Multiple nests failed. One egg taken and hatched in captivity. Chick 17-07 became member of the ultralight-led Clas of 2007.

16-04 & 9-02*^

Nested and re-nested. One abandoned egg collected.

11-02 & 17-02*^

Both initial nest and re-nest failed.

17-03 & 3-03*

Nested and re-nested. One egg collected from re-nest.

2008

 

11-02 & 17-02*^

Two eggs collected from abandoned nest.

13-02 & 18-02*

One egg collected from abandoned nest.

3-04 & 9-03*

Nest failed.

18-03 & 13-03*

Two eggs collected from abandoned nest.

17-03 & 3-03*

Nest failed.

12-02 & 19-04*

One egg collected from failed nest.

8-04 & 19-05*

Nest failed.

11-03 & 12-03*

One egg collected from failed nest.

1-04 & 8-05*

Nest failed.

16-04 & 9-02*^

Nest failed.

5-05 & 15-04*

Nest failed.

2009

 

5-05 & 15-04*

Nest failed.

18-03 & 13-03*

Nest and re-nest failed.

11-02 & 17-02*^

Initial nest failed. Re-nest produced one chick which disappeared ~ two weeks old.

3-04 & 9-03*

Initial nest failed. Two eggs taken from failed re-nest produced 6-09 and 8-09 which became members of the ultralight-led Class of 2009.

17-03 & 3-03*

Initial nest failed. One egg taken from re-nest hatched but chick died.

1-04 & 8-05*

Nest failed

8-04 & 19-05*

Nest and suspected re-nest failed.

12-02 & 19-04*

Initial nest failed. One egg swapped for infertile eggs from re-nest and W1-09 hatched but did not live to fledge.

13-02 & 18-02*

Nest failed.

11-03 & 12-03*

Nest failed.

5-01 & 1-05*^

Nest Failed. (5-01 removed from EMP to captivity)

10-03 & W1-06*

Nested. No known outcome.

2010

 

12-04^ & 27-05*

Produced two eggs but hatched one chick which later disappeared.

11-03 & 12-03*

Produced two eggs but hatched one chick which later disappeared.

2-04 & 46-07*

Produced one infertile egg.

5-05 & 4-15*

Nest failed. Two eggs taken, one hatched and became 3-10 a member of the ultralight-led Class of 2010.

10-03 & W1-06*

Nest failed.

17-03 & 3-03*

Third nest attempt produced two chicks. W5-10 disappeared in June. The other died in July - cause not known.

18-03 & 13-03*

Nest failed.

12-02 & 19-04*

Initial nest failed. Re-nest produced W3-10.

3-04 & 9-03*

Initial nest failed. Re-nest hatched two chicks. One, W1-10, survived to migrate with parents.

13-02 & 18-02*

Initial nest failed. Re-nest produced non-viable egg.

1-04 & 8-05*

Nest failed. One egg collected.

8-04 & 19-05*

Nest failed. Two eggs collected.

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Date: April 21, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: Two Interns Wanted for the 2011 SeasonLocation: Main Office

Operation Migration seeks two interns to assist with its work on the Whooping Crane reintroduction project.

Applicants should be:
• physically fit and willing to work irregular hours (any time of day and/or day of week) outdoors in full costume in extremes of weather.
• possess a valid driver's license with an good driving record
• able to work cooperatively with other team members
Applicants with bird handling experience or a background in animal husbandry, biology, etc will be given preference.

INTERN POSITION A
One intern is needed from mid May to mid July to work with OM’s crew at the U.S.G.S. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD, then move to work at the flight training site in Wisconsin from mid July to early October.

DUTIES AT PATUXENT, MD INCLUDE:
• hands-on care and rearing of Whooping Crane chicks;
• exercising and early training
• imprinting chicks with ultralight aircraft;
• maintenance, cleaning training yards, chick pens, carpets, and mopping floors;
• mowing grass
• assisting with detailed record keeping;
• contributing content for website field journal.
Non-local residents will be provided accommodation on site. Compensation is paid at the rate of $20 per day for a five day week.

DUTIES IN WISCONSIN INCLUDE:
• care and feeding of Whooping crane chicks
• continuing socialization, exercising, training and conditioning
• maintenance of pens and equipment, lawn mowing
• assistance with early imprinting on ultralight aircraft
Meals and accommodation are provided on site in OM’s trailers and motorhomes. Compensation is paid at the rate of $25 per day for a seven day week.

INTERN POSITION B
One intern is needed from mid-May through to the end of the annual migration. (approx. mid-December)

DUTIES AT PATUXENT, MD INCLUDE:
• hands-on care and rearing of Whooping Crane chicks;
• exercising and early training
• imprinting chicks with ultralight aircraft;
• maintenance, cleaning training yards, chick pens, carpets, and mopping floors;
• mowing grass
• assisting with detailed record keeping;
• contributing content for website field journal.
Non-local residents will be provided accommodation on site. Compensation is paid at the rate of $20 per day for a five day week.
DUTIES IN WISCONSIN INCLUDE:
• care and feeding of Whooping crane chicks
• continuing socialization, exercising, training and conditioning
• maintenance of pens and equipment, lawn mowing
• assistance with early imprinting on ultralight aircraft
DUTIES ON FALL MIGRATION INCLUDE:
• traveling from WI to FL Oct. through approximately mid-December
• care and feeding of Whooping crane chicks
• setting up and tearing down of travel pens
• driving a motorhome, or a vehicle pulling a trailer (experience preferred)
Meals and accommodation are provided on site in OM’s trailers and motorhomes. Compensation is paid at the rate of $25 per day for a seven day week.

To apply, email your resume, and the names and contact information of two references to info(AT)operationmigration.org with “Internship” in the subject line.

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Date: April 20, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:MORE NESTS!Location: Main Office

In addition to the nests reported active on the Necedah refuge as of last Thursday, (seven and a potential eighth), there are now four or five more for a total of 12. We have no information as yet to the identity of these new nesters.

Also, a number of off-refuge nests were spotted Monday during an aerial survey conducted by Wisconsin DNR pilot, (and former OM'er) Bev Paulan so the number of nesting pairs is growing.

We anxiously await the next nesting report (likely to come in on Thursday or Friday) with numbers and the identity of all the pairs.

For the identity of previously reported nesting pairs click here.

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Date:April 19, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:WHERE ARE THEY NOW?Location: Main Office

The latest word on the migration progress of the Class of 2010 juveniles has 3-10, 5-10, 6-10, 9-10 and 17-10 all back in Wisconsin. 1-10 was located southeast of Chicago April 4th, and he moved to a spot just northwest of the city before arriving back in Wisconsin on April 8th.

Until the weekend, 15-10 and 16-10 were the only two members of the ultralight-led Class of 2010 who were still basking in the Florida sunshine at the Chassahowitzka pensite. Word is that they departed Sunday, and before the day was out had made it to Thomas County, Georgia.

Use this link to go to the most recent tracking report showing the last known locations of still migrating Whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population.

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Date:April 19, 2011 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:WHOOPING CRANE SHOOTER SENTENCEDLocation: Main Office

The Midwest Region External Affairs Office of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a press release late yesterday titled, "Citizen Tip Leads to Closure of Whooping Crane Shooting in Indiana."

The release included this photo taken by Steve Gifford of a Whooping crane pair near the Patokah River National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana as they migrated south.

A tip from a local citizen led to identifying the individual who shot female Whooping crane #217 in Vermillion County, Indiana in 2009.

The crane killed by the shooter was the matriarch of the reintroduced Eastern Migratory Population who, in 2006, with her mate #211, produced, hatched and fledged the first wild, migratory Whooping crane chick (Wild1-06) in the U.S. in more than a century.

Wade Bennett and a juvenile of Cayuga, IN pled guilty and were charged and sentenced on March 30, 2011. Both received probation, and were assessed fines and fees for their involvement in the shooting of the crane.

The press release read, "Law enforcement agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources investigated the shooting of the crane. The crane, last observed alive by an International Crane Foundation (ICF) staff member on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009, was found dead by an ICF volunteer found on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009, in rural Vermillion County, Ind.

In early spring 2010, a citizen came forward with information concerning the shooting of the crane. The citizen’s information was valuable to investigators during subsequent interviews of Bennett and the juvenile. Both Bennett and the juvenile confessed to their involvement in the shooting of the Whooping crane.

Observations reported by the public play a key role in solving wildlife crime, according to USFWS Special Agent Buddy Shapp. “People who live in an area notice details that can tell us a lot,” Shapp said. “They sometimes see something or hear something that strikes them as unusual but not necessarily criminal. People might not realize that their observation is significant.

Whooping cranes face monumental challenges in the wild; mortality due to predators and disease, and the threat of continued habitat loss. “The senseless killing of a Whooping crane by a human hand is inexcusable and entirely preventable,” notes Dr. John French, of the US Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, and a member of the US-Canada Whooping Crane Recovery Team.

With fewer than 400 Whooping cranes in the wild, every bird is important in our efforts to keep this species from extinction. This particular bird was extremely valuable to the recovery program and this unnecessary killing is a setback. It is encouraging there are so many citizens across country who continue to champion the whooping crane recovery, and can help prevent this from happening again,” said French.

In addition to the Endangered Species Act, whooping cranes are protected by state laws and the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. To learn more about USFWS wildlife conservation efforts, visit: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/LawEnforcement/.

Date: April 18, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:CRANIAC MONTHLY DONOR CLUBLocation:Main Office

Last month we launched our Craniac Monthly Giving Club! and an impressive number of folks have signed up. The Monthly Donor Club is easy. It’s flexible and It’s convenient but most of all it is rewarding. Your monthly gift will help ensure that we are able to continue our work to safeguard Whooping cranes and continue our education and outreach.

To launch this new initiative, once you become a monthly donor, you will receive... E-Calendars AND a complimentary Whooping crane PageMarker as a special thank you!

The E-Calendars feature twelve stunning photographs with a monthly calendar overlay for use on your PC or laptop desktop. We’ll send our Craniac Monthly donors a link from which to download the new image of the month to place on your desktop.

Here's a sample of some of the monthly E-Calendars!

April 2011

July 2011

January 2012

The PageMarker is 24 karat gold-plated and the laser cut process allows for very fine detailing on the crane. It is lightweight, yet sturdy enough to mark the page in the book you’re currently reading until you're able to return to it. The card on which it is mounted provides information about the ultralight-guided reintroduction in Eastern North America.

Monthly giving provides a reliable, low-cost stream of revenue that sustains our ongoing programs. It is a cost-effective, reliable and a consistent source of funding for Operation Migration and the work we do.

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 and you are in control! At any time you can increase, decrease, pause or stop your donations, all at your convenience. Each February, we will send you a year-end summary report with your total tax-deductible contribution for the preceding year.

Won’t you become a Craniac Monthly Donor? It’s easy to join and you can contribute any amount you like on a monthly basis: $10, $15, $25 – any amount you like! Visit this link to learn more or to enroll today!

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Date:April 18, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:SIGHTING  CRANES / REPORTING DISTURBANCESLocation: Main Office

In both the Western and Eastern populations, many, if not most Whooping cranes have completed their migration, but some are still on the move back north. On April 10th, Al Scherwinski spotted a group of four cranes that had returned to the core reintroduction area in Wisconsin, and he shared the photos he captured with us. Al took his photos from a distance of a quarter of a mile using a long lens with a teleconverter.

Top Left: Adult (28-08) and three members of the Class of 2010; juveniles 19-10, 25-10 and 27-10.



Bottom Left: The four Whoopers descend into the marsh under the watchful eye of a pair of nesting Bald eagles.



Bottom Right: When the cranes decided to pause and do a little foraging, one of the eagles flew in to let them know they weren’t welcome.
 

In contrast to the care and respect for Whooping cranes that Mr. Scherwinski showed by keeping his distance, the next set of photos show that there are many individuals who, at best, are ignorant of the dangers their approaches represent to the cranes, or sadly, to whom their photos are more important to them than the safety of the birds.

Joel Jorgensen, Nongame Bird Program Manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, found five photographers visiting migrating Wood Buffalo/Aransas Whooping cranes that had stopped off in Nebraska. "We are increasingly having a problem with unscrupulous photographers," he said.


"The most egregious incident occurred when I returned to the location after about 20 minutes and found the individual (photo below left) in an open cornfield heading in a beeline towards the birds. Another set of photographers had approached the birds at a different location. (photo below right).

"Migration is the most perilous time for Whooping cranes. A major cause of mortality is collision with powerlines and there are transmission lines in the area where these birds were spending their time. Spooked birds trying to get away from a perceived threat unnecessarily increases the risk of collision."

What follows is a set of 'Disturbance Guidelines developed last year by USFWS and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The guidelines are good ones, and adherence to them will safeguard Whooping cranes no matter what part of the country they are in.

Requirements for Avoiding Disturbance/Harassment to Migrating Whooping Cranes

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 (as amended), and Nebraska’s Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act prohibits harassment, harm, and pursuit of Whooping cranes including any intentional or negligent act or omission that creates the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it in such a way that significantly disrupts normal behavior patterns, such as feeding or roosting. Harassment includes flushing the birds to flight during observation.

NEVER Approach a Whooping Crane!
Follow these guidelines to avoid unnecessary disturbance to Whooping cranes:

a) Observers must remain inside their vehicle(s) while watching whooping cranes. Although Whooping cranes are relatively  used to moving or stationary vehicles from a distance, they will take flight at the sight of a human figure.

b) Cranes should be observed from public roads only or established viewing area(s) and from a distance of at least of 2,000 feet (approximately 0.4 miles). Cranes can be easily seen from over 0.5 miles with binoculars.

c) Whooping cranes, Sandhill cranes, and many other migratory birds stop to rest and feed. Avoid flushing birds or causing birds to alter normal behavior. Anytime birds are flushed unnecessarily they are expending energy that would otherwise be used for migrating and, in the spring, breeding.

d) Collision with obstacles such as power lines is the highest known cause of mortality of Whooping cranes. Birds escaping from a perceived threat or disturbance are more vulnerable to collisions with nearby power lines.

Contact any one of the following Federal or State personnel to report
a disturbance or harassment incident or an injured or dead whooping crane

WOOD BUFFALO/ARANSAS POPULATION

EASTERN MIGRATORY POPULATION

USFWS Office of
Law Enforcement

Ellen Goeckler, Special Agent
402-223-1709

For the States listed below, if you have just witnessed a serious violation, call the RAP Hotline (Report All Poaching)   1-877-952-7277

 

Mike Damico, Special Agent
308-534-0925

Call 7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network

Federal Contacts
USFWS

Martha Tacha
308-382-6468 Ext. 19
Martha_Tacha@fws.gov

If the situation is not an emergency, report the incident online

 

Jeanine Lackey
308-382-6468 Ext.14
Jeanine_lackey@fws.gov

OR contact the nearest Conservation Officer Service District Office
 

 

Jeff Drahota
308-236-5015 Ext. 22
Jeff_Drahota@fws.gov

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North/South Carolina
North/South Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee
Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Contacts

State Contacts

Joel Jorgensen
402- 471-5440 Joel.Jorgensen@nebraska.gov

 

Mike Fritz
402- 471-5419 Mike.Fritz@nebraska.gov

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Date:April 17, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:LOOKING BACKLocation: Main Office

Although last spring's nesting season brought disappointment, it was not all bad news. After all, seven chicks were hatched.

The disappointment came from the failed nests of all of the nine pairs that initially incubated eggs, with most of the nest failures coinciding with the peak of the black fly hatch. Hopes rose when only a few weeks later, four of the initial nesting pairs re-nested. Three other pairs nested as well.

The outcome of round two of nesting produced more heartening news. Five of the seven nests were successful, and the result was the hatch of seven chicks. Unfortunately, one by one, the chicks disappeared from the landscape until only two of the seven were left to accompany their parents on the 2010 migration.

2010 NESTING REPORT CARD

Pair

Est. Date of
Incubation

Nest Status

311 & 312*

May 9-12

2 eggs. One chick hatched.

D746 & 402

April 29-30

1 egg incubated past expected hatch date. Determined un-viable and removed from nest.

505 & 415

Discovered April 1

Nest failed. 2 eggs collected April 6, taken to ICF. 1 egg hatched.

310 & W601*

April 3

Nest failed. 1 egg collected April 9, taken to ICF.

303* & 317

April 2

Nest failed. 2 eggs collected April 12, taken to ICF and transferred to PWRC. Both hatched.

Re-nest May 2-3

Nest failed. 1 egg collected for transfer to PWRC.

2nd re-nest May 11-12

June 7th nest was being incubated. After two failed nesting attempts, they succeeded in hatching two chicks.

313* & 318

April 5

Nest failed. April 11-12.

212 & 419*

Discovered April 5

Nest failed. April 14. 2 eggs determined infertile

Re-nest May 9-11

A fertile egg from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center’s captive population was swapped for their two infertile eggs. The day following the swapped egg hatched.

309* & 403

April 2-5

Nest failed April 11

Re-nest April 30

Hatched 2 chicks May 31st. June 6th chicks observed being attended to by both parents. June 7th AM flight chicks not seen on first pass, both adults very close to nest. Returned 30 minutes later and saw 1 chick with parents in same location, near nest. June 7th PM flight: still only 1 chick visible.

213 & 218*

April 2-5

Nest failed April 12. No eggs.

Re-nest May 8

June 7th PM flight: Nest was being incubated. 1 egg seen on previous flights

401 & 508*

April 4

Nest failed April 7th. 1 egg collected. Taken to ICF

412 & D527*

May 10-15

June 7th nest was being incubated. This pair laid two eggs but one was lost due to falling into nearby water. The chick that hatched was the first ever by a DAR bird.

408 & 519*

April 4

Nest failed. 2 eggs collected April 9. Taken to ICF.

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Date:April 16, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:WOOD BUFFALO-ARANSAS POPULATION UPDATELocation: Main Office

Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, along with three USFWS observers, conducted the eighth aerial census of the 2010-2011 Whooping crane season on April 13th.

"Search conditions were good," said Tom, "and all portions of the crane range were covered in the 5.9-hour flight." All ten of the Whooping cranes (7 adults and 3 juveniles) still remaining at Aransas were sighted on the April 13th flight.

In his update Stehn commented, "With only 10 Whooping cranes remaining here and an estimated 269 in migration (flock size 279), 96.4% of the flock has left Aransas. Still present at Aransas were two family groups (including a twin family) and 3 presumed sub-adults. This will be the last census flight of the spring unless one additional flight is made in May to see if the last 10 cranes have departed.

Brad Strobel will be taking over the aerial census flights as Tom winds down toward his retirement later this year.

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Date:April 16, 2011 - Entry 1Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:EGG PRODUCTIONLocation: Main Office

EGGS
The unofficial egg news is that the first five eggs produced by the captive population at Patuxent were infertile, but that the Calgary Zoo has one good egg. Since that news arrived, we've heard that Patuxent now has two fertile eggs with the viability of a third not yet unknown.

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Date: April 15, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:NESTING AND 'ROMANCE' NEWSLocation: Main Office

NESTING
In a report to the WCEP Monitoring and Management Team yesterday afternoon, the Necedah refuge advised that so far seven Whooping crane nests had been confirmed. A potential eighth nest was being checked out sometime later in the day.

The current nesting pairs are:
2003 Females
3-04 & 9-03*
17-03 & 3-03*

2004 Female
5-05 & 15-04*

2005 Female
1-04 & 8-05*

2006 Female
10-03 & W1-06*

2007 Females
7-03 & 26-07*
16-02 & 16-07*

THE HARLEQUIN ROMANCE - Episode 2
As with most Harlequin Romances, the lady-love who is the lead character is torn between two lovers. And so too goes the tale of 19-05*. After sweet-talking her non-migratory paramour, #1343, into abandoning his native Florida to accompany her to Wisconsin, it appears she may have changed her mind about making him her life-mate.

Miss Hottie, 19-05*, has been found associating with her old mate, 8-04! (That pair bond dissolved while they were wintering in Florida and 8-04 made the spring migration back to Wisconsin without his erstwhile mate.)

Whether 8-04 has considerable powers persuasion or great sex appeal, or whether #1343 wasn't interested in 'making whoopee', or..., or..., I suspect we'll never know. Because #1343 doesn't have a functional transmitter and can't be tracked, his whereabouts can only be known if there is a sighting. Better stay tuned here for the next episode in this Whooping crane love triangle.

WHAT could possibly be next? I can hardly wait to find out!

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Date: April 14, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: LOUISIANA FLOCK RELEASEDLocation: Main Office

White Lake, Louisiana is where in 1939 the last Whooping crane nest there was found. It is also the site of the newest Whooping crane Reintroduction Program.

During 2010 eleven chicks were raised at the U.S.G.S. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD and transferred to the Louisiana reintroduction and release site in early 2011. The young birds called a pen, somewhat similar to those used for our wintering cranes in Florida, home.

So far news about the the Louisiana flock has been scarce, but perhaps what we have for you today makes up for that.

From all appearances, it looks like this first ever reintroduction of juvenile Whooping cranes into Louisiana is 'flying along' (pun intended) as you will see when you check out an online video via this link. The video was taken as the pen doors were opened for the young cranes to be released into the wild.

For me, watching the first crane as it took to the air was reminiscent of watching 4-10 (now deceased) flying while we were on the 2010 Migration. See if you can spot why.

If you, like me, have been feeling a little "Whooping crane deprived" over the winter, this video should remedy that. I watched it several times before I felt I'd had a sufficient Whooping crane 'fix'.

Our thanks to Carrie Salyers, a Biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and to USFWS's Billy Brooks who alerted us to the video.

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Date: April 13, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:RESEARCH AND SCIENCE HELPING WHOOPING CRANESLocation: Main Office

As followers of the Whooping Crane Reintroduction Project are aware, nest abandonments have been a blot on the success record of the Eastern Migratory Population. Because the definitive reason for the nest failures/abandonments remained undetermined, two potential remedial actions were put forward at the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership's recent meetings.

With black flies being suspected as the cause for abandonments, one action, "a treatment designed to reduce black fly numbers to experimentally test a cause-and-effect relationship between black flies and nest abandonment," was outlined in a report by WCEP's Research and Science Team (led by Jeb Barzen of the International Crane Foundation) and Dr. Peter Adler. Reading of interest

The report recommended, "continuing to monitor nest establishment and success while implementing a Bti treatment to experimentally lower black fly abundance. The prediction is that, if black fly abundance is successfully reduced, nest success (especially with initial nesting attempts early in the season) should increase." Bacillus thuringensis, subspecies israelensis, is a bacterium found naturally in soils. A microbial larvacide that is toxic only to mosquito and Black fly larvae, Bti is applied directly to the water where the larvae are found.

The window of opportunity for an application of Bti is small. It is determined for the most part by larval development time, and influenced by weather and water flow conditions. Dr. Adler and his colleagues, Elmer Gray and John Smink, performed the Bti application between March 29th and April 2nd. In his preliminary update, Adler noted that their timing for larval development was precise.

"Larvae of Simulium annulus had not yet pupated," he said, "and the larvae of Simulium johannseni, which is about a week or more behind S. annulus, were small to medium-sized." Because they did not find any very tiny larvae of S. johannseni, it is possible that most larvae had already hatched, but they could not rule out a second cohort of S. johannseni being produced.

With more than 30 miles of optimal habitat for S. annulus and S. johannseni, the Yellow River is the primary production area for black flies in the area around the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, and it supports an estimated 90% or more of the enormous total population of these two species within a 10-km radius. The Yellow River was treated at 11 sites, and the best guesstimates of the experts performing the Bti application is that as much as 90% of the larval population was eliminated in the treatment zone.

Summing up his preliminary report, Dr. Adler said, "I cannot predict what the fly population on the Refuge will be once the adults begin to emerge (perhaps in the 3rd week of April, depending on weather). Although we know all breeding sites for S. annulus and S. johannseni on the Refuge and within a 10-km radius of the Refuge, we cannot be certain that all flies attracted to cranes on the Refuge are from this 10-km area. Flight range of the flies remains speculative. We also do not know the contribution that might come from the Lemonweir River, Cranberry Creek, or unaffected larvae from the Yellow River (especially the downstream area), nor do we know what contribution might come from a late hatch of S. johannseni, if some larvae had not yet hatched at treatment time."

With the news of at least six pairs already nesting, it would seem that it is now 'wait and see time'. Key to determining if indeed black flies are the cause or a contributing factor to the nest abandonments is the refuge's close and consistent monitoring of the nests. This is also vital in order that precious eggs can be quickly collected in the event of an abandonment.

* A professor at Clemson University in South Carolina, Dr. Peter Adler is considered the leading expert in the field. He holds a B.S. in Biology, a M.S. in Zoology, and a Ph.D in Entomology. His current research is focused on the behavior, ecology, cytogenetics, systematics, and management of insects that affect the health and welfare of humans, domestic animals, and wildlife. WCEP is fortunate to have his assistance and very grateful for his efforts and those of his colleagues on behalf of Whooping cranes.

We thank WCEP for permitting us to share this much anticipated information with our vitally interested readership.

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Date:April 12, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:NESTING UNDERWAY!!!Location: Main Office

While no reports have been made to the WCEP partners, we have learned through Twitter that in its very first 'Tweet', the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge announced that there are six active Whooping crane nests on the Refuge, with a possibility of two more.

Hopefully official reports will follow soon including information on which of the potential 20 to 25 pairs that there could be this season, are the first nesters.

The experimental application of Bti for black flies was completed earlier in the month and it will be interesting to see if this measure has any impact on Simulium annulus and Simulium johannseni, the two species that affect birds and are present in surrounding area and on the refuge.

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Date:April 12, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:PATAGONIA 2012Location: Main Office

Join a Wildlife Odyssey to the Bottom of the World.

EcoQuest Travel, Inc. is proud to offer an exciting trip to Patagonia. Enjoy a thrilling adventure to the bottom of the world and at the same time help Operation Migration as EcoQuest donates $200 to OM for each participant. 'Odyssey to Patagonia’ leaders will be Dave Davenport, Zoologist and President of EcoQuest Travel, Inc., and OM’s own Walter Sturgeon.

Comprising the southern-most parts of Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is a vast land of snowcapped mountains, cold oceans, windswept plateaus and unparalleled beauty. From Chile’s bustling capital of Santiago you will journey south to Punta Arenas and the spectacular World Heritage Site of Torres del Paine National Park. This vast park nestled in the Andes is home to herds of guanaco, Patagonian foxes, diverse birdlife and even the elusive puma is fairly common.

From the glaciers of Torres del Paine participants will ply the Straits of Magellan in hopes of seeing Commerson’s and Peale’s dolphins, Magellanic penguins and other seabirds. From Punta Arenas you will travel even further south to Ushuaia, Argentina to search for albatrosses, kelp geese and gentoo penguins along the Beagle Channel and giant Magellanic woodpeckers among the forests of Tierra del Fuego National Park.

This trip is designed to highlight the wildlife of Patagonia with a particular emphasis on bird diversity, but Walter says every opportunity will be taken to see mammals as well. Walter and Dave invite you to join them to explore the incredible wildlife and breathtaking scenery that makes Patagonia a magical place.

Also offered will be a fantastic post-trip extension that concentrates on the wildlife of the Atacama Desert and high Andes Mountains of Northern Chile, the Lake District south of Santiago or to the cultural sites on Easter Island.

For a complete itinerary or if you have any questions, contact Walt Sturgeon: sturgeon2(AT)embarqmail.com or Dave Davenport: info(AT)ecoquesttravel.net (Replace (AT) with @)

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Date:  April 11, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:MIGRATION NEWSLocation: Main Office

Over the weekend there's been little migration progress to report for the Class of 2010 members still journeying north. FYI - the five 2010 ultralight-led juveniles carrying PTTs as well as radio transmitters are: 1-10, 3-10, 5-10, 6-10, and 9-10.

As we posted last week, 1-10 has already made it home to Wisconsin. 6-10 was just south of Chicago as of Friday. At last report 3-10*, along with 17-10, was in Georgia. As of this morning, no new locations have been reported for 5-10 or 9-10.

Date:April 10, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: ENDANGERED SPECIES HIT WITH BUDGET CUTSLocation: Main Office

Excerpt from The Birding Community E-bulletin

CONGRESS SLICES MORE CONSERVATION AND BIRD SPENDING
On March 17 the Senate passed a sixth FY 2011 stopgap spending bill, called a Continuing Resolution (CR). The three-week government funding bill, due to expire after 8 April, cut an additional $6 billion from the Fiscal Year 2011 budget, bringing to $10 billion the amount of total cuts that lawmakers have eliminated since the spending showdown moved into high gear in March.

Last month we covered the list of initial targets in a number of conservation and bird issues that had been proposed in the original H.R. 1, the Full Year Continuing Resolution for 2011.

While the CR of 17 March was not as severe as the original proposals in H.R. 1, a number of natural resource-related programs, nonetheless, suffered. Some slices were big; some less so. Here are a few examples of items eliminated:
Over $73 million in land acquisition (e.g., $22 million for NWRs, $3 million BLM, $17 million National Parks, $30 million National Forests)
About $2 million for Endangered Species (e.g., Greater Sage-Grouse [Idaho population], Whooping Crane, and both Steller’s and Spectacled Eiders)
$17.5 million in Brownfields Redevelopment (HUD)
$10.5 million for a Climate Change Network (USGS)
At least $25 million in various EPA programs
$37 million in conservation operations for the Natural Resources Conservation Service

Admittedly, some of these were reductions in the President’s proposed budget, but that hardly makes them less painful. As an example, consider a couple of items for the National Wildlife Refuges: the construction and land acquisition cuts. The construction account will be reduced from the Fiscal Year 2010 level by 28 percent and the land acquisition account will see a 26 percent cut. Land acquisition is particularly disappointing, given the recent hope of appropriating more of the offshore oil and gas revenue – the Land and Water Conservation Fund – to match current needs.

The distressing CR situation also continues, including more expected drastic cuts. The budget year for 2011 actually ends on 30 September. As this year's budget process grinds forward with a series of frustrating Continuing Resolutions, Congress will have less time in which act before FY 2012 begins on 1 October.

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Date:April 9, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:A WHOOPING HARLEQUIN ROMANCELocation: Main Office

If you have been following our Field Journal updates to keep up with the progress of the Whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population as they make their way back north, you will have read in our April 6th entry that 8-04 arrived back at the Necedah NWR without the lady in his life, 19-05*. The pair bond dissolved as they wintered in Alachua County, Florida.

This story begins when toward the end of the wintering season, 19-05* was seen on multiple occasions associating with #1343, a male from the Florida Non-Migratory Population. She had been detected at Paynes Prairie in late March, but when that location was checked on April 5th, 19-05* couldn’t be found.

Then, this past Thursday night, WCEP tracker Eva Szyszkoski found a surprise in her email inbox. It was a photo taken earlier that evening in Monroe County, Indiana….drum roll please….of 19-05* and #1343!!! Can you believe it?!?! 19-05* must be some hottie to have lured her seven year old non-migratory boyfriend north.

(In this photo supplied by Billie Dodd, that is #1343 to the right nonchalantly strolling in the pond while on the left, 19-05* struts her stuff.)

“I laughed when I saw the news," said Marty Folk, Biological Scientist with the Florida Fish & Conservation Commission and godfather to the Florida Non-Migratory Population. Marty also provided some background on Miss Hottie’s new beau.

#1343 was hatched at the International Crane Foundation in 2003 and isolation reared before being released in Florida. An excerpt from his quarterly report last June read, Pair 1343/1348 nested for the first time, hatched 2 chicks, and raised both to at least 15 days of age. Raising 2 chicks to 15 days of age is a record for this flock. Until now a pair had only raised both of their chicks up to 12 days of age before losing one. The pair raised the remaining chick until at least 33 days of age before it went missing.

Marty said, “So, not only did #1343 (with his mate) successfully hatch 2 chicks on his first attempt, he (with his mate) raised them for a record amount of time! So here ya go Wisconsin, a shot-in-the-arm of good breeding potential. Here’s hoping for nesting, hatching and chick-rearing soon in Wisconsin by the mixed pair.”

We’ve always said that this project rivals any reality show and offers the best edge-of-seat drama going. Over the ten years of this project we’ve had challenges, shocks, accomplishments and disappointments. Episodes in our real life Whooping crane drama have seen celebrations, nail bitters, tears, and cheers. Now, this surprise.

WHAT could possibly be next?

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Date:April 8, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:GHOST BIRD EVENT POSTPONEDLocation: Main Office

The organizers of the “Saving the Ghost Birds” event slated for Thursday, April 28, at the Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts have announced a change of date for the event. It will instead take place on Tuesday, September 13, 2011, due to scheduling conflicts beyond the control of the event organizers or producers.

In making this announcement, the organizers said, "The public is encouraged to attend this very special evening of the world premiere documentary video highlighting the efforts to save the Whooping Crane from extinction and Sheboygan’s role in the effort. The event will include an art exhibit and auction showcasing 45 Whooping Crane and Trumpeter Swan—themed artwork pieces created by 42 area high school students. Two special event packages are available: a Silver Package which includes a cocktail reception before the premiere and a Gold Package to include the cocktail reception, plus a three-course dinner at Margaux after the screening."

Guests will include former Governor Tommy Thompson; Dr. George Archibald, co-founder of The International Crane Foundation; Joe Duff, co-founder of Operation Migration; and David Sakrison, author of Chasing the Ghost Birds. In addition, local industrialists and conservationists Terry and Mary Kohler and other visiting dignitaries will be on hand during a moderated question and answer session immediately following the premiere at both the Silver and Gold events. (Space is limited for the Gold and Silver Packages, so advance reservations are strongly recommended. For all Gold and Silver Package information, please contact A Great Event by e-mail at savingtheghostbirds@gmail.com.)

Proceeds from ticket sales benefit The Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin, located at the Sheboygan County Municipal Airport, the International Crane Foundation of Baraboo, Wisconsin, and Operation Migration of Ontario, Canada and Niagara Falls, New York.

For those interested in attending, tickets may be purchased for $10.00 for general admission or $5.00 for students. Tickets are available at the Weill Center Box Office or by calling the box office at 920-208-3243. Additional information is available online at www.weillcenter.com.

Tickets purchased for the April 28, 2011 event are valid for the rescheduled event on Tuesday, September 13, 2011. The Weill Center Box Office may be contacted for any other ticketing questions, including refunds made necessary by the date change.

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Date:April 7, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:NORTHWARD PROGRESSLocation: Main Office

Here's the latest data received from the PTTs carried by #1-10, 9-10*, #5-10* and 6-10*.

1-10 began migration from St. Marks NWF with 8-10 (and 25-09* and 29-09) on March 20th and the most recent reading shows him south of Chicago near the Indiana-Illinois border. Along the way, he made four stops; two in Alabama, and one in each of Tennessee and Kentucky. Their previous travelling companion, 25-09*, apparently split off from the juveniles and 29-09 as she was reported back in Wisconsin on March 30th.

Numbers 5-10* and 6-10* (and hopefully 10-10* who does not have a PTT and departed St. Marks with them on April 4th) were tracked to St. Clair County, AL on April 3rd. Their last location was in Kentucky just north of the Tennessee border.

The latest report on 9-10*, who departed the Chassahowitzka NWR pensite on April 4th with 3-10* and 17-10, shows that she has traveled close to 400 miles, and as of April 5th was at a location in Georgia almost due north of Tallahassee, FL.

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Date:April 6, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:EASTERN MIGRATORY POPULATION UPDATELocation: Main Office

Where are they now you ask?

This update, compiled from data provided by WCEP trackers, gives the last known locations of the Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP). The EMP currently numbers 106, and consists of 55 males and 51 females.

Legend: * = Female; DAR = Direct Autumn Release crane; & = Pair; NFT = Non functional transmitter; SM = Crane released at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge; CH = Crane released at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge (for year 2008 and on)

(Note: The Whooping cranes not listed in this update have completed their Spring Migration and are back in Wisconsin.)

In Florida
Alachua County: 14-09 SM
Leon County: 11-09 SM, 15-09*NFT/SM, 29-08SM
Citrus County: 15-10, 16-10*

In Georgia
Calhoun County: 23-10*, 26-10

In Michigan
Jackson County: 37-07DAR

In Indiana
Kosciusko County: 27-07*NFT

On Spring Migration
13-08*SM in Jackson County, IN
14-08, 24-08 in Morgan County, AL
25-09*SM, 29-09CH, 8-10(SM) in Barren County, KY
32-09*DAR in Montgomery County, IN
34-09*DAR, 35-09*DAR in Jackson/Jennings Counties, IN
Unidentified Whooping crane in Lucas County, OH
Unconfimed Location Reports
Six Whooping cranes in Walker County, AL
Two Whooping cranes in Kenosha County, WI
Two Whooping cranes in Tuscola County, MI
One Whooping crane in Cottonwood County, MN

Location Unknown – more than 90 days
33-05*NFT/DAR last reported March 6/10 - Jackson County, IN
27-09CH last detected April 10/10 - Waukesha County, WI
7-01*NFT last reported May 2/10 Fond du Lac County, WI
16-03 NFT last observed May 6/10 - Necedah NWR
14-05NFT last observed May 18/10 - Necedah NWR
20-05*NFT may have been the crane reported May 24 - Jackson County, WI
13-07NFT last recorded Nov. 23/10 - Meigs/Rhea Counties, TN
13-09 last reported Dec 2/10 - Citrus County, FL
36-09*DAR last detected Dec. 14/10 - Meigs/Rhea Counties, TN

Worthy of a note...
12-02 & 19-04* and their chick W3-10* arrived on their Wood County territory March 25. Two days later they moved to another location where the adults left the chick before returning to their Wood County territory. As of April 3rd, W3-10* remained in the area she was left by her parents.

8-04 arrived back at the Necedah NWR by at least March 29 but his former mate, 19-05* remains in Florida.
27-05*DAR’s signals indicate a possible association with 31-08DAR.

Chick W1-10* completed her migration to the Necedah NWR area by March 21st.

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Date:April 5, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:MORE DEPARTURESLocation: Main Office

It seems that the favorable migrating weather extended to the Chassahowitzka area as well St. Marks. We learned this morning that three of the young cranes wintering there, numbers, 3*, 9*, and 17-10 chose Monday to head back north. 15-10 and 16-10* are still at the pensite on the refuge.

PTT readings this morning showed that the three St. Marks 'girls' (they departed around 10:30am Sunday) had made their first stopover at a spot to the northeast of Birmingham, AL.

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Date:April 5, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: INFORMATIVE VIDEOLocation: Main Office

As we anxiously wait for news of the Eastern Migratory Population's migrating cranes and word about the beginning of the captive population hatches for the 2011 season, it is worth a re-cap of where WCEP's Whooping crane project has developed and some of the early season work involved.

The U.S.G.S. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center's website offers a 15 minute video, that although recorded in 2009, is still relevant today. Featuring narration by Dr. John French, Research Biologist, who is also a member of WCEP's Guidance Team, the video explains the work that is involved in rearing the chicks destined for the ultralight program.

If you've ever wondered just what goes on in the first days and weeks of the life of each year's generation of little Whoopers, this video will shed light on all of that as well as the work involved in exercising and condition the chicks to OM's ultralight aircraft. All apropos of the soon to begin new season.

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Date:April 4, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:HEADED NORTHLocation: Main Office

Sunday, with the change in weather, hot temps and winds out of the south, Brooke said he just knew that it was going to be 'THE day'. And indeed it was! He said Sunday produced the best migrating conditions he'd seen in quite some time. So it was that the three remaining cranes wintering at St. Marks started out on their first solo migration around 10:30 yesterday morning.

With his early morning pen check and usual duties complete, Brooke went back to the blind and settled in to wait and watch. He got an eyeful and an earful of classic pre-departure behavior. The three cranes were very attentive and very vocal as they flew around and around.

He watched as they would take off on a long flight and then return to the pen to strut on the oyster bar and forage. They repeated this several times. Each time, Brooke noted that they would disappear and reappear in the same place in the sky.

Several other species including pelicans were also enjoying the thermals today's conditions offered. Before long it appeared their 'practice runs' were over. With evident intention and calling loudly, 5-10, 6-10, and 10-10 launched one last time. Up and up and up they spiraled, effortlessly riding the wind until they went from birds, to dots, and then to mere specks against the blue sky.

Both #5 and 6-10 carry PTTs, so hopefully we'll be able to report their progress as they make their way north.

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Date:April 3, 2011 - Entry 2Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:COLOR THEM GONE!Location: Main Office

Brooke's prediction that the weekend weather would prompt the last three Class of 2010 juveniles at St. Marks to launch their epic journey back north was dead on. He reported that the 'girls' departed this morning around 10:30. Check back here tomorrow morning for the story.

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Date:April 3, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:STILL WAITING FOR WEATHERLocation: Main Office

More than half of the 106 Whooping Cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) have completed their Spring Migration. With the dismal, wet weather experienced in the south this last week, it is no surprize that the birds have remained in place in Florida.

Last word has the two St. Marks wintering juveniles, males 1-10 and 8-10, as being in Kentucky. The three females still there under the watchful eye of Brooke Pennypacker are 5-10, 6-10, and 10-10. 

From the Journey North website we learned that adult 27-08 is still 'visiting' the Class of 2010 juveniles at their Chassahowitzka NWR pensite. He, along with numbers 3, 9, 15, 16, and 17-10, have exhibited some pre-migration behavior, but in their case too, any pull to head north has been dampened by the weather.

Don't forget you can catch a glimpse of the St. Marks 'girls' by tuning in to the St. Marks cranecam. (Note: Feed doesn't 'stream' but the image refreshes every few seconds.)

WCEP partner Journey North not only provides excellent Whooping Crane information and news, it does a phenomenal job of educating its young student followers. Want to see which Whoopers completed their migration and when? Click the following link to be taken to Journey North's excellent website and view the Arrival Log.

Date:April 2, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:SPRING MIGRATION TIDBITLocation: Main Office

Just a tidbit of migration news....

1-10, who departed St. Marks NWR March 21st, was next detected a day later 200 miles to the north and just east of Montgomery, AL. By the 24th of March he had moved another 365 miles, to the northeastern corner of Alabama. The following day his signal was picked up near the Tennessee-Kentucky border. As of last Wednesday, March 30th, he was recorded as being in Kentucky, but not all that far from his last stop.

Unlike 1-10, his fellow Class of 2010 member #8-10 who departed St. Marks with 1-10, does not carry a GPS transmitter so we can't be certain of his whereabouts. We certainly hope however, that they are still travelling together.

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Date:April 1, 2011Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject:STILL WAITINGLocation: Main Office

Although their behavior appears to be pre-migratory, Brooke tells us that 'the girls' are still hanging in at St. Marks. Perhaps the spirit just hasn't moved them yet, but it could also be the fact that the weather hasn't been providing any encouragement. The rain that's been falling this week is supposed to end shortly, and Brooke says he wouldn't be surprized if that change, and some favorable winds, prompted the trio to head back north.

Since posting this update early this morning we've had numerous calls and emails asking about the Class of 2010 cranes that are wintering at Chassahowitzka. Folks are wondering why we've posted about the St. Marks juveniles and not those wintering at Chass.

The answer is simple... Because Brooke is on site doing the Winter Monitoring at St. Marks we are able to get reports on the birds wintering there. A team from ICF is performing the Winter Monitoring at Chassahowitzka and we can only post information on those birds when and if we receive an update from them. Check ICF's website as they do post updates to their "What's New" webpage. http://www.savingcranes.org/whats-new.html

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Date: March 29, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:CRANIAC'S MONTHLY GIVING CLUB!Location:Main Office

Today we’re excited to launch our Craniac Monthly Giving Club! It’s easy. It’s flexible. It’s convenient. Most of all it is rewarding. Your monthly gift will help ensure that we are able to continue our work to safeguard Whooping cranes and continue our education and outreach.

To launch this new initiative, once you become a monthly donor, you will receive... E-Calendars AND a complimentary Whooping crane PageMarker as a special thank you!

The E-Calendars feature twelve stunning photographs with a monthly calendar overlay for use on your PC or laptop desktop. We’ll send our Craniac Monthly donors a link from which to download the new image of the month to place on your desktop.

Here's a sample of some of the monthly E-Calendars!

April 2011

July 2011

January 2012

The PageMarker is 24 karat gold-plated and the laser cut process allows for very fine detailing on the crane. It is lightweight, yet sturdy enough to mark the page in the book you’re currently reading until you're able to return to it. The card on which it is mounted provides information about the ultralight-guided reintroduction in Eastern North America.

Monthly giving provides a reliable, low-cost stream of revenue that sustains our ongoing programs. It is a cost-effective, reliable and a consistent source of funding for Operation Migration and the work we do.

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 and you are in control! At any time you can increase, decrease, pause or stop your donations, all at your convenience. Each February, we will send you a year-end summary report with your total tax-deductible contribution for the preceding year.

Won’t you become a Craniac Monthly Donor? It’s easy to join and you can contribute any amount you like on a monthly basis: $10, $15, $25 – any amount you like! Visit this link to learn more or to enroll today!

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Date:March 27, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:THE WAITING GAMELocation:Main Office

Each morning I check the St. Marks CraneCam to see if the three girls are still present or if they too have flown the winter coop to head north. They just made a cameo appearance minutes ago so it looks as if they’re still there – for now.

Information received from the GPS transmitter that #1-10 is wearing tells us that on the first evening of his northward journey, he roosted in Macon County, AL. The next good set of data indicated that on the night of March 24th, he had made it to Jackson County, AL in the northeast portion of the state for a total distance of 586 kilometers.

We have no way of knowing whether he is still traveling with nos. 8-10, 24-09 and 29-09 but there is strength in numbers so we hope they’re still together. Now the waiting continues to find out when the girls will decide to leave…

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Date:March 25, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:ST. MARKS CRANESLocation:Main Office

During a quick phone conversation with Brooke this morning, he reported that the three young female cranes are still at the St. Marks NWR winter release pen. In fact he was on his way out to the pen this morning when we spoke.

Apparently, last evening when he arrived to check on them they weren't on the oyster bar and he had to walk out to what has become their favorite area to forage in - "The beach."

The beach is to the west of the release pen and they spend hours at a time probing for tasty treats in the wet sand. When I asked if they seemed to be exhibiting any pre-migratory behavior, Brooke said "they're starting to get that look." What look is that, I asked. He responded "they all seem to look skyward and tilt their heads, as if they're picking up a faint radio frequency that only they can hear... they're doing that more often." Interesting...

As for the two males, which departed the pensite on Monday, March 21st, data from their GPS transmitters indicated that they made it to Macon County, AL, nearly 200  miles to the north and right on course.

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Date:March 24, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:WISDOM & HER CHICK SURVIVE TSUNAMILocation:Main Office

A Laysan albatross, believed to be 60 years old and ranked as the oldest free-flying bird in the United States has thrilled biologists by surviving a tsunami that struck the Pacific island where it nests, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says.

"Wisdom" and her recently hatched chick were spotted alive about a week after Sand Island in the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge was struck by a 5-foot tidal wave unleashed by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit March 11 off the coast of Japan.

The tsunami killed an estimated 2,000 adult albatrosses and about 110,000 chicks in the refuge, located about a third of the way between Honolulu and Tokyo in the North Pacific. The total losses represent a fraction of the overall population of 1 million Laysan albatross that nest in the refuge, but 20 percent of this year's hatchlings.

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Date:March 23, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:EMP SPRING MIGRATION UPDATELocation:Main Office

Of the 106 Whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population, 43 have been confirmed back at the core reintroduction area in and around the Necedah NWR as of March 21st.

Just a reminder to folks to please use this reporting site to submit your Whooping crane sightings.

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Date: March 22, 2011Reporter:Heather Ray
Subject:OUTA THERE!Location:Main Office

We received word this morning that two of the five juvenile cranes, which had been wintering at the St. Marks NWR in Wakulla County, FL had departed on spring migration sometime yesterday!

The two males; nos. 1-10 & 8-10 left sometime between 10:30 and 4:45pm and according to Brooke they had not been exhibiting any pre-migratory behavior or anything that would indicate their intentions.

The males are traveling in the company of the two older cranes: nos. 25-09 and 29-09. Left at the pen are nos. 5, 6 and 10-10.

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Date:March 21, 2011Reporter: Heather Ray
Subject:HAPPY SPRING!Location: Main Office
I'm not a fan of winter. Never have been. Never will be, so at 7:21pm last evening I performed my own little happy dance to welcome the official return of SPRING!

Of course with spring comes the return of many migratory songbirds - definitely one of the reasons I love this season. Any day now the still juvenile Whooping cranes, which unlike me, were fortunate to head to a warmer climate this winter, will feel the migratory itch and will return north.

Before they do, I thought it would be nice to get another look at them to see how they've changed over the past couple of months. Joseph Bonislawsky, member of the St. Marks Photo Club and one of the many volunteers who helped to construct the winter pen, made a trip out to the blind with Brooke over the weekend and is sharing some of his images with us.

Amazing to see that there is very little of the tawny brown coloring left on the youngsters. In fact at first glance, I was certain that the group of 6 adults who have been wintering in the Tallahassee area, had made a return visit and Joseph was in the right place, at the right time and managed to capture them but he assured me that these are indeed the five juveniles from the Class of 2010 - with two cranes from the Class of 2009, which have been spending the winter with them. Enjoy - and thank you Joseph!

 

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