Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Trip to The International Crane Foundation

A few weeks ago Nature Net Intern, Emma, went with her Birds of Southern Wisconsin class on a field trip to one of Nature Net's member centers, The International Crane Foundation. The International Crane Foundation has been around for approximately 40 years and does conservation work with many species of cranes, has a resident pair of each species, does education work, and much more! Their site is located in Baraboo, Wisconsin, but they are involved with organizations all over the world.

The class got an exclusive tour with one of our teaching assistants, Matt, who actually works for ICF. He gave us an overview of each species, told little anecdotes about the pairs that no one else would know, and outlined any cultural significance the species may have. Many of these cranes are pictured in their culture's stories and illustrations. You can find out more about each of the species by clicking the links below, which will take you to the ICF species pages. 

Black Crowned Crane
Black-necked Crane
Blue Crane
Female (left) and Male (right) Sandhill Crane at
the Aldo Leopold Nature Center
Demoiselle Crane
Eurasian Crane
Grey Crowned Crane
Hooded Crane
Red-crowned Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sarus Crane
Siberian Crane
Wattled Crane
White-naped Crane
Whooping Crane

The two types of Cranes we have in Wisconsin are Sandhill and Whooping Cranes. While Sandhill Cranes were once endangered, they are now plentiful and inhabit Wisconsin between the months of March and October. In fact, they are the must abundant species of crane in the world. You have likely seen or heard these beautiful birds near your home. Pairs will frequently use the same site for nesting year after year, and the Aldo Leopold Nature Center has a resident pair of its own! If you have noticed cranes in the same area many years in a row, it could be the same pair; they know that that area has allowed them to safely raise their chick(s), and trust it to be safe in the future.

Whooping Crane on Nest, ICF
Perhaps the most amazing story was of the Whooping Cranes. I had heard of this species, but never seen them, and there's a good reason for this. In the 1940s, the species was decimated to 21 individuals in the wild. With the help of ICF, though, it now numbers almost 600 birds (both captive and wild). Conservationists have used "costume rearing" to help raise Whooping Crane chicks, in which volunteers put on a crane costume and used a hand puppet to feed the chicks to keep them from imprinting on humans. Teaching the first group to migrate was a bit more difficult: they used an ultra-light plane and flew with a flock to Florida! You can find out more about this process on their species page. ICF has a beautiful "theater" for their Whooping Crane exhibit. There's a little wetland area with a pair of cranes and their nest, all located in front of a seating area with information on the cranes.
Whooping Cranes, ICF

Many of the cranes are quite vocal individuals, and throughout the morning we heard them calling. What's interesting about cranes (and some other species of birds, as well) is that they do what is called a "unison call." This involves both the male and female calling at once. The pitches of their voices are different, and the combination of the two creates a cool, unique sound.

If you're looking for something fun and educational to do this summer, why not go to Baraboo, and see all 15 of the world's crane species in one day! For hours, directions, and prices, click here.

Happy Birding!
Nature Net Intern

Friday, May 9, 2014

Technical Difficulties - Missing Blog Photos

We are experiencing technical difficulties with our photo files disappearing from our Google account. We are working to recover this and apologize for the inconvenience!