The fourth annual Whooping Crane Festival to be held near the White River Marsh State Natural Area in Green Lake County is all set for September 12-14. It is sponsored by Operation Migration with help from such partners as the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Berlin.
You might call this Festival 2.0 since it follows a decade of one successful whooping crane festival originally hosted by the Lions Club of Necedah. But when Operation Migration’s site for training whooping crane chicks was switched from the Necedah NWR to White River Marsh, the festival pretty much-needed to be re-invented. And re-invent it they did!
This new version started small, but has grown steadily, OM’s Heather Ray wrote at the Field Journal last week. Not only has it outgrown the Berlin Conservation Club for its Saturday programming – it all will be moved to the Princeton High School this year – but this festival seems to grow new events in new locations each year.
Here are some of the things you can do at Whooping Crane Festival 2014.
On Friday morning you can board a bus at Necedah NWR (this is an hour and a quarter to the west of the rest of the festival activities) and enjoy a guided tour of the remote areas of the refuge. There is the hope, that you will be lucky enough to catch a sighting of one of the approximately 80 whooping cranes that make their home in the refuge.
You can listen at length to the experts – some of the most learned and experienced people in the world on cranes, and experts on a few other birds as well.
Stanley Temple, the Beers-Bascom Professor Emeritus in Conservation at University of Wisconsin’s Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology (Aldo Leopold was the first to hold that position), will discuss the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Temple has given numerous presentations this year, the centennial year of the extinction of that species. The presentation will follow a dinner Friday night at the Mascoutin Golf and Country Club.
Saturday presentations at the Princeton HIgh School will include the following speakers: OM Pilot, Joe Duff; International Crane Foundation co-founder, George Archibald; DNR pilot Beverly Paulan who flies aerial surveys for the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership; Birder Tom Schulz who leads a birding trip to Costa Rica every spring, and Raptor Rehabilitator Pat Fisher.
A pancake breakfast prepared by the Berlin Rotary Club will start the day at Princeton High School, and a marketplace, and silent auction will run concurrent with the speakers.
Each day of the festival – weather permitting – you will be invited to watch the training of the Class of 2014 – the seven young whooping crane chicks currently learning to fly with the ultralights.
As if all that were not enough, here’s more: you can sign up for a Saturday night pizza party at Christiano’s in Green Lake, a Sunday morning bird hike at White River Marsh led by Tom Schulz, and a Sunday evening wrap party at Mecan River Outfitters.
What is the price of all this fun? Not one single penny for all of the Saturday morning and afternoon festival activities – including the presentations by the experts. However, you need to pre-register, and pay for the supplemental activities and meals on Friday, Saturday night, and Sunday. Friday’s dinner followed by Stanley Temple’s presentation on extinction is $50, with a percentage of each ticket earmarked for support for the Class of 2014 whooping cranes.