Since 1990, ICF has banded over 400 Sandhill Cranes in central Wisconsin, one of the densest nesting populations of cranes known anywhere in the world (we annually track around 60 breeding territories in our 6,400 ha study area). The small leg bands and radio transmitters, the latter placed on a select number of cranes, allow our staff to identify and track individual birds – once we can identify individuals, we can follow their movements, form hypotheses about their behaviors, and test these ideas in the field.
Access to the rare and endangered Whooping Crane chicks that are raised each year at the International Crane Foundation (ICF) in Baraboo, WI is granted only to trained ICF staff wearing crane costumes – until now. This chick season ICF is sharing this experience with the world through our live web cam!
I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. A painted bunting in Chicago? In January?! These birds belong in the humid swamps of the Gulf Coast, not the frigid streets of the Windy City. Yet there could be no doubt of what I was looking at, as this painted bunting was lying dead in a tray at the Field Museum among 140 other species of birds that have been collected as window kill below the skyscrapers and apartment buildings of Chicago.
Zambia is the third leg of my travels in Africa and a perfect final destination. Zambia is truly a wetland paradise, with eight “Wetlands of International Importance” under the Ramsar Convention covering a surface area of nearly 40,000 square kilometers. These include some of the most important wetlands in Africa for cranes.
As Kerryn Morrison, ICF’s African Crane Conservation Program Manager, and I drove across the border from Uganda, I was thrilled to experience Rwanda for the first time. Rwanda is the 20th Africa country I have worked in for ICF, and I take joy in learning about the unique cultural, political, and ecological characteristics of each country I visit. Rwanda is no exception.
ICF President Dr. Rich Beilfuss recently returned from a three-week field visit to advance ICF’s Africa Program in three important “crane countries” — Uganda, Rwanda, and Zambia. Following are his field notes from Uganda, detailing the community-based efforts to protect the remaining Grey Crowned Cranes and their habitats in this country.
Professional photographer, Tom Lynn, has been photographing acres of magnificent native plants and panoramas at ICF since May of last year. He is a storyteller with a lens — helping us tell the story of ICF’s connection to ecosystem restoration — efforts that began back in 1979 to restore prairie, savanna, wetland, and woodland communities at our headquarters site in Wisconsin.
The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) is celebrating another success in its efforts to reintroduce a wild migratory Whooping Crane population in eastern North America. A Whooping Crane chick hatched yesterday in Wood County, Wis.
ICF is saddened to report on the fatal shooting of a Whooping Crane in South Dakota. The migrating adult crane was from the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population and was traveling with two Whooping Cranes when it was shot with a rifle while standing in a corn field. Law enforcement officers with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks are investigating the shooting which took place on April 20, 2012.
ICF’s Field Ecology Department (FED) staff are continuing their study of nesting Whooping Cranes in central Wisconsin and factors that may lead to nest abandonment. One hypothesis is that biting black flies may be harassing the cranes, to the extent that the birds cannot remain on their nest for the full 30-day incubation period. Following is an account of our spring research involving black flies, insect traps and fake nests, and planes!