I know of four opportunities coming up in the near future that are an invitation to put your concern for whooping cranes into action. The first one, An Evening with the Cranes at the International Crane Festival, in Baraboo, WI, is coming up fast! It’s an evening for all cranes – not just whoopers – that supports crane research and conversation of all 15 species of cranes. Details below.
Spend An Evening With the Cranes at ICF
This is the International Crane Foundation’s annual after-hours fundraiser. If you go, you can expect to enjoy the calls of the cranes, along with gourmet food and beverages and access to all the ICF displays from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 20th – the eve of the summer solstice this year. There will be live music performed by human musicians, as well as the “crane music.” Tickets to this event are $50 each, for members of ICF, $75 for non-members. The tickets include admission to ICF all day Saturday, June 20th, and Sunday, June 21st. ICF is the only place on the planet where you can actually see – in one day – birds that represent all 15 of the world’s crane species.
Partnering organizations helping ICF offer An Evening With the Cranes include, Bekah Kate’s and the Broadway Diner, both from downtown Baraboo, Carr Valley Cheese, Con Amici Wine Bar, Monk’s at the Wilderness in Wisconsin Dells, and Port Huron Brewing Company. And that’s just few of them.
Can You Do Some Heavy Lifting to Prepare for the Class of 2015?
This next opportunity begins the same weekend – the summer solstice weekend – and will finish up in the week that follows. It will exclusively benefit whooping cranes – a handful of very specific, and very important whooping crane chicks: the Class of 2015.
These are the chicks that have just hatched from the eggs of captive whooping cranes at Patuxent Wildlife Life Research Center in Maryland; chicks that are being trained from the beginning to trust and to follow their costumed surrogate parents. These chicks are learning right now to follow motorized trikes (ultralights without their wings), and the white costumes who drive the trikes. Eventually, in Wisconsin, they’ll learn to follow the costumed pilots of the ultralights into the air.
So, what could you do for these little Class of 2015 whooper chicks? You could help Operation Migration, which manages their “flight training,” to get the Wisconsin training site prepared for their arrival at the end of June. OM’s Heather Ray described the work, which will take place in the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area, and I’ll just mention a few of the tasks for which OM is recruiting volunteers.
These include: Setting up a camp near the training site, attaching a top net onto both wet and dry pens that will contain the growing chicks, mowing and raking of the runway where they will first fly, preparing the observation blind, and there are quite a few more. If you could lend a hand – and don’t mind wet feet and dirty hands for a few days – you’ll be a part of an intense and rewarding adventure, according to many who have volunteered for OM in the past. (Go here for more information, including how to get in touch.)
The Whooping Crane Festival of 2015
Looking ahead to September, craniacs from Florida to Canada- and beyond – have marked their calendars for September 10th – 13th for the 2015 Whooping Crane Festival. How about you? Events will take place near beautiful Green Lake in the middle of Wisconsin.
The weekend will include speakers, auctions, a marketplace, a welcome dinner, a chance to watch flight training with the Class of 2015, a Saturday night pizza party, a Sunday Morning Bird Walk at White River Marsh, a bus tour of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and also a Birding by Boat tour of the marsh. Details, details, and more details of all these events, and then some, are available at the link, and you will also find a link there to the registration page.
Meet a Flock of Whooping Cranes
If you’re not a member of the International Crane Foundation now, you might want to be one on September 26, 2015, so that you can enjoy all that ICF has to offer at its annual Member Appreciation Day. At this event you can join a behind the scenes tour and see ICF’s flock of whoopers during a stop at Crane City, where breeding takes place each spring. You will also get to meet field staff and learn directly from them about the work that goes on in Crane City all year long.
ICF has a population of 30 captive whooping cranes. Although a whooper pair is usually on display as part of a wonderful visitor’s viewing pavilion at ICF, Member Day is, I believe, the only opportunity to get anywhere near the whole flock. ICF is one of 5 captive breeding centers for whooping cranes in North America, and its flock is second only to Patuxent National Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, the original site of a captive breeding program for whooping cranes.