Christmas Trees Benefit Crane Conservation

By Kim Boardman, Aviculturist

The fruit cake is finally gone, the ornaments have all been packed away, and the Christmas tree now lies on the curb. The holiday season has past, but for ICF’s Crane Conservation Department (CCD) this means it’s time to start early preparations for our upcoming breeding season!!

Every year during the 2-3 weeks following Christmas, CCD staff hooks up the truck and trailer and heads into Baraboo to collect upwards of 70 Christmas trees to be used as capture corners during the breeding season. This year, we were fortunate to have the added assistance from the Village of West Baraboo Public Works Department, who graciously offered to deliver the trees they collected to our site!

A single capture corner generally requires 4-5 Christmas trees secured in the corner of each breeding pair’s pen. The trees provide a safe place to quickly herd individuals towards and capture them for artificial insemination (AI) sessions. One of the main challenges of AI is to quickly catch and position the bird before it becomes too stressed and is no longer receptive to the AI process.

Over the past several years, several new crane pairs have been established, which means collecting more trees! We’ve also found that fewer people have real Christmas trees than in the past, so meeting our needs efficiently has become more challenging.  Thanks so much to the Village of West Baraboo for their support!!