Big, beautiful, iconic, and highly endangered, the whooping crane – and the continuing story of its survival against the odds – offers us, I do believe, one of the best wildlife epics of our time. The story pairs the power of nature to endure with the creative power of humans to improve on our many intersections with the natural world.
I started The Badger* and the Whooping Crane to join – and hopefully amplify in any small way I can – the chorus of voices telling this story, and in particular, to highlight Wisconsin’s considerable role, since 2001, in this drama. I also like to tap the rich vein of news about natural resources in Wisconsin and share as much as I can (there is so much!) of that.
When I first visited the amazing International Crane Foundation in Baraboo,WI, it was curiosity, and not a whooping crane obsession, that prompted me. What, I wondered, was an institution dedicated to large, exotic birds doing here, in the middle of the Dairy State? Unexpectedly, before my visit was over, I had acquired a fascination with whooping cranes that just continues to grow. The more I learn about these graceful, avian wonders, the more I want to share their story of survival with everyone I encounter.
My name is Kathlin Sickel, and I’m a freelance writer living in Northeastern Wisconsin. Nothing makes me happier, in a journalistic sense, than discovering a good story. This is a great one.
Watching the transformation of little fuzz-ball chicks into the gorgeous, rare big birds they become is just the beginning of the story. Following their migration stories and their progress toward their destiny as truly wild birds adds another level of awe; add to that the things done by people all over North America to safeguard and ensure their existence, and you have the ingredients for an inspiring, multi-faceted, long-running saga. Each time someone hears the story for the first time – every time the amazing details involved in it are shared – new fans for the cause of the whooping crane are sure to be created.
[A note: *Maybe for some the connection between badgers and whooping cranes could use an explanation, so here it is: “badger” is just another nickname (like “cheesehead”) we Wisconsinites give ourselves. We are “the Badger State”, and the short-legged, underground, nocturnal animal, is our largest university’s celebrated mascot. When you say “badger” around here, you mean Wisconsin.]
[Photo courtesy of the International Crane Foundation]