Look here, at the end of every week, for a collection of short news items and links to stories, events, and issues regarding Wisconsin’s whooping cranes, conservation issues, get-outdoors opportunities, and other nature-based happenings.
Nests, and More Nests!
This is going to be the big story for whooping cranes for the next month, or maybe two. It will deserve some lengthy coverage, but for now I’m just going to mention this excellent news: whooping cranes sitting on nests have been confirmed in Wisconsin. Read all about it in this post at Operation Migration ‘s Field Journal , authored by the WI DNR pilot Beverly Paulan, who discovered 15 nests while flying a monitoring trip over parts of the state early this week. . . . And the captive flock at the International Crane Foundation is already laying eggs; you can access their annual Egg Score Card to follow the progress toward hatching . . . . And, more big news: in Louisiana a whooping crane pair in the small, newly established non-migrating flock has produced a pair of eggs! This is the first time in over 70 years that a mating pair has produced eggs in the wild in Louisiana in over 70 years. Chicks may be coming soon! But even if the eggs do not prove viable, this is very good news – as explained here, in this report at The Clarion Ledger (of Jackson, MS) news site.
The International Crane Foundation has closely monitored, and posted periodic updates about the oil spill that occurred March 22nd in Galveston Bay, TX, too close for comfort to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and Matagorda Island. In other words, it was too close for comfort to the only self-sustaining flock of wild whooping cranes in the world. (Read more about this flock in an earlier post “Where the Birds Are”.) ICF has more than a dozen links to news of the spill and its aftermath. I recommend this very informative eyewitness account, provided by KHOU news in Houston, of the cleanup of Matagorda Island. It does a good job of explaining both what’s involved in removing oil contaminated sand, and what’s at stake for wildlife.
Dan Small and the crew of this half hour weekly tv magazine travel Wisconsin in search of stories about our natural resources which they broadcast every Friday night on Milwaukee Public Television. Operation Migration’s training sessions with last summer’s whooper chicks was featured on the April 3rd show. If you missed it – or if you are not in the MPT viewing area – you can watch it on their website; select Outdoor Wisconsin – Program #3011. The whooping crane session begins at 9:15 of the broadcast: words and pictures telling a story that never gets old. Operation’s Migration’s work is well-explained in this short segment, and their basic task summed up this way: “Reinforce that lesson – Follow the aircraft! Follow the aircraft!” (And it’s a pretty cute show, too; you’ll like it!)
The Great Wisconsin Birdathon
Here’s something for virtually everyone in Wisconsin: the Great Wisconsin Birdathon, and it will be happening throughout the month of May. If you’re a cheezehead, please consider getting involved – if not as a birder, you can give a small donation in support of one. The Birdathon began in 2012 as a joint effort of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Society for ornithology, and the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative. In 2013, birders and donors together raised $56,000 to support seven bird conservation projects (including the Whooping Crane Reintroduction). They are aiming this year to raise at least $75,000. You can join in as a donor, or an individual birder, or as a team. If you’re a beginner-birder, there are a number of Birding Blitz Field Trips planned around the state just for you.