Below is a list of podcasts relating to birds, conservation, and nature in general. The list is updated on a regular basis, so check back often for new programs and feeds. If you find a feed we should add, if a program is unavailable, or if you discover a program that should be removed, please send an email with the details.

The podcasts listed on this site are not currently produced by or hosted by Beakspeak. They are property of their authors and don't necessarily reflect our views. If you like a particular podcast, please visit their site and show support. Without them, none of this would be possible. Enjoy!

Podcast titles and descriptions are written by their authors. Minor editing may have been done to clean up the format.

• BirdNote Podcast RSS Feed • Birdwatch Radio
• GLRC: Environment Report • Laura Erickson's For the Birds Podcast
• Naturesound, Digital recordings of Birds • NPR: Environment
• On The Wing • Parrot Science
•'s Podcasts • Ray Brown's Talkin' Birds
• RSPB Bird Notes • SciQ: Science Revealed Podcasts
• This Birding Life • Whooper Happenings
Whooper Happenings
Whooper Happenings will present current information about Whooping Cranes across North America and those who work with and help to preserve and guide this highly endangered species. Actual voice-cuts and interviews with the biologists who do the work and handle the birds as well as those who fly with them (Operation Migration ultralight pilots) is offered.


If you haven't been there lately, read what's happening everyday at Operation Migration's Field Journal.

Hint: one recent post is below... click this 'In The Field' link to read the rest and what is most current...

Most of the Class of 2008 is back now in Wisconsin, and others are not far behind. Date: April 17, 2009 - Entry 2Reporter:Liz CondieSubject:CLASS OF '08 JUVENILES ARRIVE
Location:Main Office

We just learned that WCEP trackers picked up the signals of 804, 814, and 818* at Necedah NWR yesterday. The three, along with 819, were the first of the Class of 2008 to depart on spring migration. They left Chassahowitzka NWR on March 24th. While going through Alabama 819 split from the group and his location is currently unknown.AND, five of the juveniles in the St. Marks cohort who began their migration March 30th also arrived late yesterday. They are: 805, 812, 828, 829 and 830*. The other two of the seven are 813* last reported in Iowa before arriving in eastern WI, and 826 who died of injuries sustained in Illinois. (19135KB)


The Aransas flock, now in migration and scattered across the Midwest heading back to Canada's Wood Buffalo area, has had 2 more losses added to the 21 already reported by Tom Stehn, with the USFWS. One DAR chick, #832, was found dead near a power line just recently, and now a favorite of the bird handlers at Patuxent and OM's Beverly Paulan. The bird who greeted Beverly each time she entered the pen at St. Marks, flapping, dancing, with such a happy and contented spirit...

just playful and good with all the chicks (this per Brian and Barbara Clauss at Patuxent who have raised many Whooper chicks in recent years), died Wednesday evening after being under anesthesia. He was slated for surgery Thursday (today), but it was not to be. He had apparently been hit by a motor vehicle or struck his leg, breaking it above the hock, and also the bone above his foot was shattered. Other injuries were also possible, but capture myopathy and just the trauma of the exams stress a bird beyond what many can handle. He was found Sunday not far from a busy highway, and just laying there. First thought to be dead, the owner brought him to a vet, and then to a rehabber. He was ultimately taken to the University of Illinois' Wildlife Medical Clinic in Urbana, where vet surgeon Avery Bennett was to do surgery to attempt repair of the multiple fractures the bird suffered above his foot (leaving it virtually hanging in place) and hock.

The landowner reported that the 5 flock mates of 826 were 'waiting' and stayed with him for 3 days, but then left. The PTT-equipped bird, #813, had left the flock of 7 Whooping crane chicks and was located in Iowa a few days ago.
The pleasant disposition and spirit of this chick will long be remembered, and his playful antics. For Beverly to call him her favorite, he had to be pretty special!

On Sept. 26th '08, the first and second cohorts were combined to fly together for the first time. He dropped out, and rather than risk injury to the bird in crating him, Beverly decided to 'walk with him' back to the pen, though she said she ran ahead to make it look like she was leading. He flew the last few hundred yards to the pensite. He was just a day or two short of 10 months old.

Listen as she talks about #826 in WH #34...

This has been a tough winter for all the Whooping cranes with staggering losses in Texas and now 2 of the Class of 2008 chicks. Over half have arrived in Necedah, but the safe arrival of the remaining birds in the Eastern Flyway is what we anxiously wait to hear about.

Operation Migration photos - (l to r) #826 as a chick at Patuxent, with Beverly learning to eat Blue Crabs, and going into the wet pen. (147KB)


To parody the McCartney-Lennon song, "I once had some birds, or should I say they once had me."  I'm not sure either Brooke or Beverly are singing this, but around 11:15 am, Monday 3/30, half of the Class of 2008 that wintered at St. Mark's NWR took to the air, found a thermal, and continued heading north.  Bev and Brooke were not able to track them long before losing the signal.  Three of the chicks have transmitters they can track from the satellite, but the signal could be difficult to detect from the ground as the birds can fly quite high (as high as 5000 feet) as they soar most of the time during migration.

So, the 4 chicks from Chassahowitzka should be arriving any day at Necedah, and their detection is highly anticipated as will be the arrival of the 7 chicks that just left St. Mark's.  No official word on the remaining 3 chicks at Chass, but they will likely be leaving soon if they haven't already.  Now, we wait to hear that all 14 birds have safely arrived at Necedah.

Listen as Beverly talks about watching the chicks leave Monday morning, 3/30, by clicking the arrow at the bottom.

The same morning the St. Mark's chicks flew north,  I followed a Florida Sandhill family around a bit and watched as the Mom and Dad fed each chick. This family is 4, as both chicks have survived and are now perhaps a month or more old, likely too big to be predated by local hawks and such.  They foraged and explored a wide area, and I finally left them to tend to their fluffy twins.  The chicks at this stage look so much like the Whooper chicks at the same age that they are very difficult to tell apart.  Sandhills also have local motorists to contend with, and last year several pairs on the Spacecoast were killed by local drivers.  Losing their parents at this tender age would be detrimental to these chicks, as they need them for both protection and to feed them at this stage.

While this family seemed to trust me, the Dad did approach me several times in a defensive stance, and looked at me. He either thought I was harmless or understood when I explained I knew a few of his Whooper cousins! Approaching these birds at any time is never a good idea as they become tame to human presence, and could actually inflict harm (beak or talons can be very deadly to bobcats or raccoons!) should they feel threatened. It's a good thing when others feel threatened sometimes. (531KB)


The Whoopers are flying back home, and at least 4 of the 7 Class of 2008 at Chassahowitzka NWR have headed for Necedah. There have been about 30 birds arriving so far, and with a total of about 84 birds, more than half will be making the journey very soon. The International Crane Foundation's Sara Zimorski heads the winter monitoring team at Chass, and she also takes acre of the insemination of the parental pairs at the ICF.

Peggy and I visited with Operation Migration's Beverly Paulan and Brooke Pennypacker in late February. Those two work much harder than most of us do, and their love for these birds is just a little obvious! Those of you who love reading their accounts on the Operation Migration Field Journal will enjoy listening to what they have to say.

Tom Stehn is vacationing, so we chatted with Canada Wildlife Services' Brian Johns. Brian talks about the upcoming breeding season in Wood Buffalo, and the severe losses of many Whoopers this winter at Aransas and on their southward migration.

Check out the short article, "Who's the Predator? Who's the Prey?" from Tom Stehn on Journey North...

International Migratory Bird Day is Saturday, May 9th this year, and Operation Migration will again be at Disney's Animal Kingdom. (I mention that IMBD is the 16th in the podcast; scratch that... it's actually May 9th this year.)

A new batch of Whooper chicks will be coming soon, and we'll let you know how things are progressing!

Thanks for listening to Whooper Happenings #43! (12447KB)


This time around I talk with Joe Duff about the migration and how he feels things went, and top cover pilots Don and Paula Lounsbury at the Dunnellon Airport flyover in January.

Coming up in the next several weeks, we'll hear what Beverly Paulan and Brooke Pennypacker said about the migration, raising the chicks, and their thoughts about the pending northern migration, which always brings bittersweet feelings from those working closest to these wonderful chicks!

Don't forget, you can post a comment or ask a question below in the new Whooper Happenings Blog. We may not know the answer, but we know who does!

Thanks for listening to Whooper Happenings #42!

Photo: a trio of chicks at St. Mark's just don't want to let Bev tuck them in for the night. They'd rather be flying, and even their costumed Mom doesn't blame them! But their exercise fun makes bedtime a chore almost every night Bev told us!
* I state that the Aransas-Wood Buffalo flock has a total near 266 birds this season in this podcast; a recent release from Tom's office now says that they believe that nearly 18 birds are dead this winter, and this would make the total number of Whooping cranes closer to 250, the second worst season since 1990. Many of these deaths are juvenile birds, but we will hopefully talk with Tom in the next podcast. Exact totals are difficult, and the birds are tough to count and evaluate, but the experience Tom and his team have does indicate a serious problem this year with drought conditions, and food-water sources, which are definitely related. (11473KB)


The flyover at the Dunnellon Airport took place the morning of January 22nd, with pilot Brooke Pennypacker making a second circuit with all 7 young Whooping crane chicks much to the delight of the cold observers below. The brisk morning likely kept many away, as perhaps 200 people turned out to watch as the chicks were taken to their pensite at Halpata-Tastanaki Reserve, and then transferred the next morning to Chassahowitzka NWR.

Some comments from those who were there, including members of Mrs. Trublehorn's Class from Tampa Prep, and we also chatted with ultralight pilot Richard van Heuvelen.

So, the Journey ends for these 14 young birds. Their life in the wild as free birds has already begun, as the team at each site just watches over them providing food and water... hoping they will come back to the protection of the pensite each evening. So far, this is what they know. but what concerns the team is the dangers that lurk for these young birds such as from bobcats, raccoons, and other aggressive predators. Their lives have been sheltered so far, but they are now learning the outside world on their own. All too soon, in just a matter of weeks, they will make the trip back to Necedah on their own for the first time. This is a time filled with tension and concern not to mention worry for these birds, and until they are located in Wisconsin, they will be monitored. Those who may not choose to head to Wisconsin are also monitored, and depending on where they decide to land their movements are watched by the tracking team and then WCEP members decide if action might be necessary to bring them back into the flock.

Next time around, we'll talk with Joe Duff and also Don and Paula Lounsbury, who provide the top cover safety net that is such an important part at the beginning of each year's migration.

Thanks for listening to Whooper Happenings #41!

Both views of the 7 chicks are with pilot Brooke Pennypacker as they approached the Dunnellon Airport on 1/22/09. (8103KB)


Three months to the day after leaving Necedah NWR in Wisconsin, the Operation Migration team arrived at St. Mark's NWR just south of Tallahassee in Florida. They brought half of their flock to spend the winter enjoying the new pensite and facilities that have been created just for them. Much work and many hours with local help and volunteers went into making this happen. Along with flyover comments from a few of those who were there, refuge manager Terry Peacock talks about those who made this happen and how excited they all were for this day to finally arrive!

Now, in the next few days, depending on weather conditions the remaining 7 chicks will be led to Halpata-Tastanaki Refuge south of Ocala, and then to Chassahowitzka NWR where they will spend their winter, as have the previous 7 years of young Whooping cranes.

In the photo Richard van Heuvelen is leading 7 Whooping crane chicks to their new pensite at St. Mark's NWR. Moments after this photo, the birds became disorganized and scattered a bit, due to air turbulence (see top photo). However, they continued on their way the remaining few miles arriving safely at their winter home.

The Operation Migration team, a few volunteers and several US Fish people from Patuxent are pictured in the lower photo. Joe Duff and Liz Condie are to the left and right of the ultralight nose. It's not over yet, but close enough that all show a happy face rather than the frustration this migration has caused because of the many grounded days due to poor weather they experienced again this year.

To learn what day the migration will flyover at the Dunnellon Airport this week, go to Operation Mgration's website here... (4710KB)


The OM team is only days away now, and their next stop, after arriving in Jefferson County, FL, will be St. Mark's NWR. It's been another long migration for everyone, and no one wants to get these birds to Florida more than the team doing this migration! Weather again has caused more delays than they planned, but it's been a very unusual winter and conditions have just been deteriorating all along the new route this year. I am sure they got tired of hearing that, but residents kept saying the same thing!

I talked with OM's Liz Condie about their anticipated arrivals here in Florida, and also with Chris Danilko back in the home office in Ontario. Chris talks about the MileMaker program; it isn't too late to become a sponsor! Please do so if you can in whatever way by going to the OM MikeMaker page here...

Beverly Paulan has told us that #826 is her favorite chick; I asked ultralight pilot Brooke Pennypacker which chick he likes, and his choice is unusual! Brooke tells us why and since he and Beverly have watched these little guys grow to the tall birds they are now, their choices are special! You can't work with any creature the many hours they do without finding individuals you really love and see as special from the others.

Both flyovers are only days away now; if you are planning to head to St. Mark's south of Tallahassee, here are the directions on OM's website... Go to the top right and click the 'St. Mark's' sign logo.

We all look forward to the safe arrival of the entire team and all 14 birds here in Florida.

Back at 'cha soon, and thanks for listening to WH #39! (6364KB)


The weather still grounds the birds and OM team as they pass the halfway mark through Alabama. Florida is very close, and St. Mark's NWR will be the first of the 2 destinations the birds will have this winter. Two groups of 7 chicks, with 2 females each and some sort of logical sort will be used. So far we haven't heard exactly how they will do this, but it will involve behavior and their social interaction.

I talked briefly with one of the rangers at St. Marks, who is making preparations for the flyover, hopefully the end of next week. I caught Joe Duff at home in Ontario, and he will be heading back to join the team very soon. The holidays are always a stressful time, but the weather and downtime which translate into more expense and time away from families is the real menace the past few years. The new route does afford some safety and also weather advantages, which ultralight pilot Brooke Pennypacker discusses.

To get possible flyover days and related information, always subject to change, please go to

There are many miles that remain to be sponsored, and if you would like to help get the birds to Florida, your sponsorship, whatever you can do, would be most appreciated! Just go to

Happy New Year from WH! (9070KB)


With the weather as bad as it has been across the Midwest, it was inevitable that the team would hit the holidays. Most have gone home to be with their families, but a few remain in North Alabama to stay with the birds and care for them. The migration will resume just before New Year's, with expectations of making Florida by mid-month. Beverly talks about the birds and this year's migration, and the real reason the change was made to the migration route. In case you've ever wondered what the birds do with all their ground time, Beverly Paulan's answer may surprise you! I mean, who knew the young chicks could be so talented!?!

I heard one craniac exclaim as they flew out of sight 'Gosh, it's been windy... but they'll make Florida allright!'

Merry Christmas from WH!

Mark & Peggy (13431KB)


The OM team and their entourage have now arrived at their second stop into Illinois, and will next be at the first new stop on the revised migration route. I talked with OMâs Liz Condie about how the team is doing with so many grounded days. Weather has just not been in their favor many mornings, wind and rain the main issues.

I spoke with Marty Folk about the Whooping cranes that remain as part of the non-migrating flock on the Kissimmee Prairie. The team has decided that no more birds will be released, and none have since 2004. A total of 289 chicks were released between 1993 and 2004! Drought and predation have been the main reasons their numbers have dwindled to only 31 that now remain.

While the OM team was happy to leave Wisconsin, some were not as glad to see them go! They are a part of the daily routine much of the year at Necedah NWR, and refuge manager Larry Wargowsky talks about the birds' training behind the ultralights there, and how visitation at Necedah has grown to where a new visitor center will break ground next year to handle the increased traffic.

If you have a question, write to us at

Thanks for listening to WH 36!


The Operation Migration team is almost into Illinois at this time, as wind and rain have made for many no-fly days. The highly aggressive bird who 'took out' 3 other flock members this summer... #810, has been released on his own and is doing well with other older Whoopers. He should soon be heading south with his peers or Sandhills, and will likely be in Florida long before the OM team with his flockmates!

We talked with OM's Heather Ray for the first time. Heather goes back to the Sandhill migrations before the costume protocol was even used around the birds. She has been gone almost 3 years, but is on the migration with the team now, and working with the birds.

Also, lead pilot Joe Duff discusses how the birds might be divided when they get to Florida, as half the flock will winter at St. Mark's NWR just south of Tallahassee this year, and the other half at Chassahowitzka, where they have been the last 7 years.

Listen to win a Whooper Happenings t-shirt! No one e-mailed a correct answer to our migration question.. It's an easy one, but we'll take just the first correct answer.

Thanks for listening, and join us again in November.

Our e-mail is

Early morning flight training at Necedah, NWR, WI. Photo - Mark Chenoweth


Here's an addition that you must see! If you love these birds, watch the short video that OM's Heather Ray shot on 11/1. Only someone in costume could ever do that, and few are allowed so close to the birds! It's a really cool video... no talking or dialogue, but I bet you will love it, too! Post a comment and thank her for the video after... an 'excellent' rating at the top would also be great! The birds were at their last stop over in Southern Wisconsin.

The Class of '08 Out For Some Exercise... (7673KB)


As the start of migration approaches, things haven't gone as the team would like! Weather issues have led to many down days, and the flight training, so important to get these birds to fly as a flock, has been intermittent. The flock is now down to just 14 birds, since the aggression of #810 forced them to have this bird sent out as a sort of DAR release. This bird injured 3 other birds, ultimately leading to the death of #807, and 809 being sent back to Patuxent for his genetic value, and #811 now a display bird at the Milwaukee Zoo.

Beverly Paulan, Operation Migration's Field Supervisor, talks about 810, and a few others, one of which she calls "her favorite"! Beverly loves all the chicks--and the dismissal of #810 was a bittersweet decision for the WCEP team. But his aggression of the other chicks, and the fear of more harmful interaction during migration, forced their hand.

The International Crane Foundation's Marianne Wellington talks about how her 6 chicks are doing. (This was just before #810 was sent to be released by her team.)

Our winner of the drawing for the new book, "Cranes, A Natural History of a Bird in Crisis" by Janice Hughes was Mary Wollitz-Dooley of Plainfield, Indiana. That beautiful book is on the way to her.

Last but not least -- here's a chance to win a Whooper Happenings t-shirt. Just listen for the details.

Thanks for listening to WH #34. Write to us or reply with your answer to


WIN a copy of Dr. Hughes new book, 'CRANES' (10855KB)


In this longest-yet episode of Whooper Happenings, Bev and Brooke talk about the 2008 chicks and the new migration route they worked so hard on, Marty Folk discusses the Kissimmee Prairie birds and loss of all the chicks this season. It has been a tough, dry year so far!

Joe Duff talks about the new migration route and his expectations for the upcoming migration. The new route, which differs greatly from the past years, hopefully will expedite the migration this year, saving time and money. But the changes were not made just for these reasons! You'll hear why they were so important and needed! The route maps show the old migration (on the right) as compared with the newly planned route they will take this fall. Note that Indiana is bypassed, Alabama is bisected and Georgia only has the route to the very southwest of the state.

If you have a question or comment, please e-mail Thanks! (20318KB)


This was the 3rd year that Operation Migration celebrated International Migratory Bird Day at Disney's Animal Kingdom. We talked with many of the guests, and shared the enthusiasm we all have for helping to save this endangered bird.

Also we have information about how the Whoopers and Whooping crane chicks are doing.

Do send us a comment or suggestion at Thanks! Operation Migration (7435KB)


Somehow, it seems that if you are thinking about Whooping cranes and their welfare, you just have to be thinking of ways to better save energy and avoid environmental waste! This is Earth Day 2008 as I post this podcast, and the past 38 years do seem to have run by so fast! I can recall picking up junk along roadsides on Eastern Long Island that first day, along with snapping dozens of photos which were displayed the next day in the high school office window. Being a yearbook student photographer had its advantages--I could avoid working as hard as some others! Heck, it's not easy holding your 35mm in one hand and soda cans or a rusty chunk of scrap metal in the other!

Brian Johns, the Canada Wildlife Services Whooping Crane Coordinator, talks about the returning birds and his expectations for nesting and chicks this summer. And I spoke with St. Markâs Refuge Manager, Terry Peacock, who discussed the recent open house about the new winter residents, answering questions for locals and seeking support for this project. They can use your help if you'll write a note and e-mail it to the guy doing the approval process. It will speed things up, and I'll post a letter you can use.

IMBD--International Migratory Bird Day, fast approaches. Operation Migration will again be at Disney's Animal Kingdom, for the 3rd year. More on that later.

Don't forget--if you have a comment or suggestion, send it to us at Thanks! (12287KB)


It seems like a long winter this year, and even though the birds just arrived at Chass less than 2 months ago, they are getting ready soon to make their first northward migration back to Necedah, WI! Older adults such as #101 are already there, with others heading north right behind him. Route changes for this year's migration are not yet completely firm, but when they are Joe Duff will tell us about them. In this podcast I have the 2 winners from the question I asked last time, and we talk with Sara Zimorski, aviculturist with the International Crane Foundation, who with her team and several USFWS folks headed the Winter Monitoring and Tracking Team, caring for and watching over the birds this year. Sara talks about #703 and the others, and especially gives us some insight as to what we can expect to happen with the youngest bird, #735, whose one wing has kept her from flying and will not make the return migration! But it isn't so bad, as Sara tells us.

Keep abreast of the northward migration of the Whoopers by going to the Operation Migration Field Journal at Journey North is another great site for migration news at Important and authoratative resources can be researched about all 15 crane species at the International Crane Foundation's website:

Write to us at

Photo- Nadia Studnicka sporting her new WH t-shirt, with furry friend Emma. Photo-Abby Studnicka. (7864KB)


It's hard to believe that a year has passed since we heard about the Whooper chicks' demise at Chassahowitzka! Most of us heard about it Saturday or even Sunday morning, but it came as a numbing impact, and seemed unreal! I received several e-mails written by folks who heard it on the news late Friday night, but I had to call Joe and Beverly, because it stunned me, and I just couldn't believe it! The birds represented hope and the future for their species, and to have them gone so quickly like that they had just arrived only 3 weeks earlier!

Now, a new flock of chicks is occupying the same ground and pensite the Class of 2006 did, but with a few safeguards added to help insure this never happens again. Nature and weather are never certainties, but precautions to insure their safety have been installed this year. Lightning is something no one can totally protect against, but the odds are in favor of the birds, and the likelihood of such a catastrophe again is small.

Last spring, I posted a Tribute to the Class of 2006, comprised mostly of comments on Whooper Happenings from those who worked with, trained and loved those birds. I suspect many of you heard it, but on the anniversary of their loss, you might want to hear it again.

There are now new residents at Chass, and we can only imagine they are looking down, watching over their cousins as they fly high above in more distant skies! (3217KB)


With the flyover at the Dunnellon, FL airport the morning of January 27th, and the final flight of the chicks to their winter home at Chassahowitzka NWR the following morning, their journey is complete! In just a few months they will get the urge to migrate north, and with luck, weather and timing on their side, we hope all 17 make it back to Necedah! It is always with mixed emotions that each pilot brings in his birds at Chass (they don't land with the birds) and as they pull up and away, even after years of doing this, each has a lump in their throat, knowing the fate of each bird, many they know all too well, now truly rests with nature! As one pilot told me a few years ago, "once you have done all you can do, the birds are free, on their own, and that is what we all want."

We'll chat with Beverly and Brooke in an upcoming podcast; they are caring for the chicks out at Chass, and will soon be back at Patuxent to hatch and raise another batch of baby Whooping cranes, soon to be the Class of 2008!

If you know the one common thing each flyover has the past 3 years at the Dunnellon Airport (other than that's where they were... not the answer I am seeking though!) send me an e-mail with your name, address and preferred t-shirt size. The first 2 correct answers will get Whooper Happenings t-shirts with the iWhooper on them. Send your answer to

Thanks to everyone who shared their comments with me at the flyover, and of course to the entire WCEP project team, especially Operation Migration and a few select members of the International Crane Foundation and Patuxent WRC, whose patience and determination are what really got the Class of 2007 to Florida! (8756KB)


With several more migration legs behind them, but at least 4 or even 5 left to go, the Operation Migration team and those accompanying them are exercising their usual care and judgement. Weather being the culprit, they are still experiencing a number of down days, but they will take advantage of any day where winds and conditions are in their favor. With the 90 day mark coming up fast, their patience has been tested many times on this migration, but they still won't rush and risk injury or worse to pilots or birds. It's just a matter of flying whenever conditions allow both planes and birds to be aloft in accord with each other.

I talked with Beverly Paulan, Field Supervisor for OM, and she discusses their migration hosts, how well the birds have been flying, and what we can expect as they get to Florida. And as Bev and the whole team would say, they can't make it down here too soon now! But they are working on it and they will be here!

Also, part 2 of my chat with Joe Duff, continued from WH 25.

Join Peggy and me for the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival January 23rd thru the 26th at the Brevard Community College North Campus. Joe Duff will be there speaking on the 25th and 26th, but limited seating (free with festival admission) is first-come, and his presentation "Flying With Birds -- Saving A Species" is something you must hear and see! For more info about the festival, where OM will be have an exhibit, go to

Hope to see you at the Dunnellon Airport flyover... soon!

Operation Migration (11604KB)


As I look back on the past year, 2007 offered nothing I wish to take into the New Year! Besides a job loss and routine stuff, I will remember 2007 as the year that saw many negative things happen in our world! We lost many we came to love and cherish, and in my family, that included my youngest sister, three weeks after another loss in February, and an aunt. We all suffer loss, but some years tally harder than others. I have no positive recollections from 2007, but I look at 2008 in a most positive and hopeful light! It can't be worse, and likely will be super for us all!

Reflecting on how we all felt after the loss of the Class of 2006 on February 2nd, so many chick losses last spring, and even later into June, and how the Endangered Species Act is now more of a joke to many politicians than a law that was enacted some years back, it has been a trying year for anyone working in conservation and attempting to save a species. Not just the Whooping cranes we focus on here, but Polar Bears, manatees, the Yangtze River Dolphin, Snow Leopards, and so many more we couldn't begin to name them all here. The only thing we know is that this world is not promoting the life forms that were placed here -- it is eliminating them, and we are on the list!

Al Gore is right about something -- and living in Florida, I realize now maybe he was right that Floridians couldn't count! Heck, they sure can't drive, but his work on global warming is certainly an alarm bell rung perhaps years too late! The sad thing is that the wheels turn so slowly in our world that by the time anything significant is done, it will prove fruitless to reverse what harm's done for so many years.

So, from our small perspective, and since saving the entire world is such an enormous task that none of us, even those enlisted to do such things, can even begin to show positive change, we strive to save just one species. It will affect many others in this work, and already has. But since we can't save the entire world, maybe the world of the Whooping cranes is enough -- for now! It is a start, and that's more than our politicians and those we pay to work for us are doing!

As the migration ends very soon by mid January, when those of you watching the flyover in Dunnellon see the 17 Whooper chicks flyover at the airport just as we did on December 19, 2006, it will remind us that the Class of 2006 lives on -- 17 birds representing the future of a species which so many have given so much to ensure!

Thanks, WCEP team! Your many hours and dedication to this work make a difference! Let's hope and pray for a most productive 2008!

Mark Chenoweth


As the OM team made the last leg of their migration through Southern Indiana, one birdâ #733, decided to drop out and go his own way. Many people spent days looking for this guy, but it wasnât until over 5 days later he was finally located and recovered! His return to the flock represents many hours of hard work, searching, hours in the air for pilots Jack Wrighter and Dave Mattingly in the top cover aircraft and for the ultralight pilots as well. Many hundreds of calls from local spotters and landowners directed searchers to the bird ultimately, who made a triangle it seems back into Southern Indiana, and then into Kentucky. Local media and residents played a major role in assisting the OM team and many others in the birdâs recovery as well.

All this "for one bird" some might ask? Well, in a wordâ yes! Whooping cranes donât come easily, and in the wild they rarely happen at allâ except for one in Florida and W601 in 2006! Every bird, captive-bred or wild, is a precious resource, with many hours of care and love behind them. Whether from the Whooper parents as in Necedah last summer (2006) or in a semi-dry marsh in Florida this past summer, these birds need protection and the habitat to enable their survival. Their very tenacity and ability to rebound from near extinction entitles them to our concern and more. It is human carelessness and disregard that brought their near demiseâ we can do no less than safeguard each as best we can now. We owe them that much, and more!

Join Peggy and me for the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival January 23rd thru the 26th at the Brevard Community College North Campus. Joe Duff will be there speaking on the 25th and 26th, but limited seating (free with festival admission) is first-come, and his presentation âFlying With Birds â Saving A Speciesâ is something you must hear and see! For more info about the festival, where OM will be have an exhibit, go to .

Thanks for listening to WH 26; join us again soon as we hope to meet-up with the team in Hiwassee very soon for their departure there. Hopefully no crane rodeos this year, and the guys get all 17 to fly as one unified flock! Right!

Note: The presentation Joe will give is on 1/25 from 1-2 pm in the auditorium, and Saturday 1/26 also in the auditorium from 10:30 am to 12 noon. This last presentation is a different time than mentioned in the podcast. Thanks! (10056KB)


The OM team was stuck over the holiday in Southern Indiana, though the folks at the Muscatatuck NWR were happy to have them no doubt! Friday morning they were able, with much effort, to escape Southern Indiana and flew a tough flight into Shelby County, KY! Hiwassee, TN is now only days or a week away... we hope! One bird, #733, was playing the 'I'll fly where I want' game, and he took off and left the group Joe was escorting. He was not with the flock later that evening, but a thorough search covering many miles and going back several stops did not locate his transmitter signal. The search continued for several days, as all but one were grounded days. But late in the day Wednesday, a confirmed sighting lead the top cover pilots, Dave Mattingly and Jack Wrighter, to a signal location, and the team moved in and rescued #733! He was making little noises, almost as if to say 'what kept you?' Maybe more likely, 'where am I, anyway?' Being a male, some might say he had no idea where he was and was just trying various flights to find something familiar. But he seemed very happy to see the two handlers (Joe and Brian C.) when they approached him late Wednesday! He was back with his flockmates soon thereafter.

Earlier this year I talked with Joe Duff, and he discussed the work of Operation Migration. This is the first in a 2-part chat with Joe about the history of OM. I also talked with Sara Zimorski, aviculturalist with the ICF about changes we can expect this year with the protocol and safety implementations to safeguard the birds from severe weather such as what happened on February 2nd, killing 17 of the 18 young Whooper chicks at the Chassahowitzka pensite.

Also, Crane Mama Bev Paulan talks about her babies and how she spoils them! The team is not so 'down on down days' as they always have things to do! Ultralight pilot Richard van Heuvelen designed and will be installing the automatic gate release system for the Chass pen, and he discusses this and flying with the young chicks. Richard has flown on every migration since 2002 (he was the director of the ground crew in 2001) and he says he never tires of flying with the birds

Take a chance and guess the flyover date at the Dunnellon Airport here in Florida.. do so before November 30... just e-mail us at

MileMakers are wonderful people, and remembering someone you love by sponsoring a mile, fraction of a mile or however you can is a wonderful way to celebrate their life! Call Operation Migration to make a tax-deductible contribution at 1-800-675-2618.

We plan to hopefully catch the flyover at Hiwassee in Tennessee, and we'll get comments from team members and fans if we do! Join us for WH 26 in a couple weeks! Thanks for listening!

Whooper Happenings is an independent podcast production, in no way connected with Operation Migration. However, we support the work they do and hope you will also! (9677KB)


The OM team is still in Wisconsin (they don't need to be reminded) as of this date (it's Halloween!) but there is hope they might be in Illinois by the weekend! All birds are doing well, but #727 prefers to be boxed (maybe she was a chicken in a previous life?) and trucked so far, and #710 just seems to be testing Beverly's and the team's patience! He must have genetic material along the same lines as #615 did! He loves to thermal and remained behind on several legs so far. Let's hope he stays with the flock, and starts to flight right.

Canadian Wildlife Service's Whooping Crane Coordinator, Brian Johns, talks about the birds leaving Wood Buffalo and what numbers might be expected to arrive soon in Aransas, Texas, their winter home.

We talked with Nathan Hurst and Megan Kennedy, OM's interns this year who have been working with the chicks since they hatched. They love what they are doing, and know they are privilaged to be doing it! I think these 2 have a lot of motivation and it's been great having them as part of the team this year! Also, Dr. John French, Research Director at Patuxent NWR talks about why he has great expectations for the program in spite of increased losses this year.

Pick a date you think the OM team might flyover at the Dunnellon Airport here in Florida (marking the end of their migration for this year!) and you will win a WH t-shirt. Send your guess to

The Operation Migration MileMaker program could really use your support! If you would like to help the birds and the team get to Florida, visit You can also call them at 1-800-675-2618. (11767KB)


Necedah was great! Peggy and I enjoyed meeting many people up there, and of course the OM team and those from Patuxent. We'll chat with Barb and Brian Clauss who have hatched and raised the Whooper chicks for the WCEP project since the beginning, Dr. Glen Olsen the veterinarian at Patuxent who comments on the chicks and the year looking back, Momma Crane (Bev Paulan) offers some comments, Brooke Pennypacker who knows the chicks as well as anyone on the team and Joe Duff discusses the year and his anticipation of the upcoming migration.

Operation Migration needs MileMaker sponsors, and your support is crucial! Please consider what you might do, and go to You can also call them at 1-800-675-2618.

Thanks to all, we enjoyed meeting so many in Necedah, and let's all hope and pray that this year's migration begins soon, and the birds all fly well, and most of all... that the weather holds up and speeds their arrival in Florida! I know they don't believe that will happen, but hey... we need to, and it will if we all believe! (Also, call a few weather guys and offer a bribe!)

Whooper Happenings will have t-shirts soon which you can purchase... very limited numbers, and the proceeds from these will go to Operation Migration. We'll let you know more. If this might interest you, drop us an e-mail expressing your interest (not definite yet) as we need a number to order (medium or X-large) and these will have the logo above on the pocket area (no pocket though). Cost will be around $20, but isn't determined yet.

Send us an e-mail and tell us what day the flyover will be this year. This is the flyover in Dunnellon when the birds finally will reach the Halpata-Tastanaki Reserve, which last year was on December 19th. Take a guess... the closest one(s) will get OM lapel pins and another craniac gift and recognition beyond your wildest imaginings! Possibly a big kiss (peck) from #105 when he gets back down here! Remember, he and #101 are still searching for mates, so gal cranes... here's a possible intro for ya!

Write to us at (17578KB)


The heat and dry conditions almost everywhere have affected us all, and the Whooping crane populations are no exception. Lack of rainfall is to blame for no propagation this year (or very little) in Wisconsin and Florida. Everyone involved with the birds is busy this time of the year, as migration is just weeks away. This time we talked with veteran ultralight pilot Brooke Pennypacker. He says that #101, who has been leading the birds on some of their circuits, should be put on the payroll for OM! He still hasn't found a mate, and the team feels sorry for him, so they have allowed him to help with their training this season. Not that they could likely stop him even if they wanted to! As Brooke says, he makes a better bird role model than they ever could for the new chicks!

We talked with Brooke about the training at Necedah, and then Sara Zimorski at the ICF tells us a little about the DAR chicks they are preparing for their migration. Marianne Wellington is actually doing the work with the chicks, and reaching Marianne is no easy task! We will catch up with Marianne when we can.

The 7th Annual Whooping Crane Festival is September 15th, and if you'd like information about this event click here-- MileMaker sponsors are most definitely needed, and if you haven't done so or would like to sponsor a mile in memory of a loved one or a special event in your life, just go here--

Also, if you are a teacher, and would like to become part of the work that Operation Migration is doing to save the Whooping cranes, register for Change4Cranes by e-mailing

If you are planning on being at the festival in Necedah, do say hello! We plan to be there, so drop us a note and let us be on the lookout for you! Write to us at Thanks! (6956KB)


In Whooper Happenings 21 we talk with Operation Migration Field Supervisor Bev Paulan, who has come full circle now with this season's hatching and raising of the new chicks. Bev talks about the emotional roller coaster we've all been on and how many chicks are expected for flight school in Necedah.

We chat with Marty Folk, Whooping crane Field Supervisor with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, about possible changes and expectations for the Class of 2007. Marty tells us about the wild Whooper chick hatched just weeks ago in Florida, and how the rest of the non-migratory flock is doing on the Kissimmee Prairie.

Abby Studnicka and her daughters, Nadia and Eve, folded over 1300 origami paper cranes, and earned $3,000 selling them! A local OM supporter's donation and that of the local Caterpillar plant brought the girls' efforts to $7,000, which will be given to Joe Duff for Operation Migration's work very soon.

If you are a teacher and would like to become part of the work that Operation Migration is doing to save the Whooping cranes, register for Change4Cranes by e-mailing . . You'll receive a cardboard change box and the stickers to decorate it, along with suggestions and information. Those registered will be eligible for a drawing on October 1st, and 3 classes will have a chance for visits from Operation Migration team members.

Your questions and comments are always welcome at . . (17646KB)


The first cohort of chicks has arrived in Necedah and the team is about to begin Flight School. All of us have been through an emotional roller coaster this year, and we continue to reflect and watch as this flock progresses. This year is one none of us ever wants to relive again, and the OM team has been particularly stressed and through emotional trauma way beyond any experienced in the past. Their dedication and hard work has been more than obvious this year, and the new flock has just arrived for their summer flight training, leading to their ultralight migration this fall from Wisconsin to Florida.

As the weeks progress and we all watch and enjoy the Operation Migration Field Journal reports ( let's not forget the MileMaker Program that we have supported in the past. In case you are a newbie here or a recently acquired craniac, do consider what you might do as they are not home free, and a long ways from the financial coverage for this year's migration.

You can visit the OM MileMaker page here:

Your support makes this 501(c) 3 effort happen! Without such support, it would literally never get off the ground. We can only hope that the roller coaster emotional ride we have been on is over, and things stabilize.

While outside factors like weather and climate changes as well as predation are beyond anyone's control, the Operation Migration team remains committed to this project more than ever. Showing our support for the work they do is our way of being a small part of what they do and telling them that we care.

In the weeks to come, we'll talk with Marty Folk with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as well as Bev Paulan. Bev is really busy, so we will do our best to catch her soon! Also, we'll chat with Abby Studnicka and her daughter Nadia, who with her sister Eve, folded and sold paper cranes, raising over $2500 for Operation Migration. With several local businesses matching the work they did, the girls and their Mom will present Joe Duff with a check for $6500 at Necedah this summer! These gals really worked hard and their efforts are most appreciated by us all!

Listen for a new Whooper Happenings in July. (6061KB)


This was the second year that Disney invited Operation Migration to be their guests at Animal Kingdom for International Migratory Bird Day on May 12th. Peggy and I were asked to take photos of the kids sitting in Joe's ultralight (a very important job!) and it was fun! I hope the day was educational and informative for many who stopped by to hear about the Whooping cranes and work Operation Migration does.

I talked with Beverly Paulan, Operation Migration's Field Supervisor (and crane midwife) and she discusses her work and the number of chicks they have and expect for this year. Listen and see if you can tell... does Bev love what she is doing?!

I talked with Joe Duff while he was here for IMBD, and Joe discusses Disney and IMBD as well as the Class of 2006. Joe puts some closure on all that's happened this year, with the recent loss of so many birds. Also, he mentions some possible future changes for their migration. The MileMaker program is in need of support, and if you would like to help be a part of this wonderful work, just go to Your comments are always welcome... write us at .

Photo: Alex McMichael, Disney's Animal Kingdom Manager of Special Events and Media dons a crane costume to show what the well-dressed humans are wearing around the Whooper chicks again this year. (10258KB)


A new breeding season is here, and a number of pairs of Whoopers have already laid eggs. The captive pairs at the San Antonio Zoo and Patuxent as well as in New Orleans at the Audubon Zoo have eggs, and the first chick is likely to hatch around April 16th at San Antonio. This will be the first OM bird for the ultralight program this year, #1-07! I talked with Beverly Paulan, Field Supervisor for Operation Migration, and she has new interns coming to work very soon. We will ask her about them next time; she headed to Patuxent where egg incubating has begun and hatching will soon commence. I also checked with Sara Zimorski at the International Crane Foundation where no Whooper eggs have laid yet, but it won't be long.

Earth Day is April 22nd, and then International Migratory Bird Day is May 12th. Peggy and I will be at Disney's Animal Kingdom again this year with Joe Duff and Liz Condie. If you will be in Orlando and at Animal Kingdom that day, do stop by and say hello. Any park employee can tell you where we'll be, most likely at Rafiki's Planet Watch as we were last year, in the back. One of the OM ultralights will be on display that day.

Endangered Species Day is May 18th, and your voice is always important to speak up for endangered animals and support in whatever way you can! Our administration is weak on this, and many animals will be left off that list as well as budget restrictions and limitations, making support for this most essential program very scant and shoddy by the Bush people.

The MileMaker program to support the Class of 2007 has started, and if you would like to help, go to Operation Migration's site here... . You can sponsor a mile, several miles, a half, quarter or however you would like. Your support will help this non-profit charitable 501(c)3 organization in the essential work they do saving a critically endangered species.

We'll report on IMBD in WH #20... your comments are always welcome by clicking 'comments' below.

Thanks for listening to Whooper Happenings, and write to us at . (10550KB)


This is what some of those who worked with the birds said during 2006 on WH. Many of you who listen to Whooper Happenings may recall hearing these comments, and those who are represented work the closest to the birds (save Margaret Black's class in Ontario, I used because it was cute! They all loved the Whooper chicks!). If you have a comment, do leave it below. This has been re-edited slightly and several comments are different if you listened to the previous 'Salute' I posted here. This one is a little nicer, and has several things I originally couldn't locate in the files I keep from the podcasts. I hope it helps remember the Class of 2006, and even more, look forward to the Class of 2007... now in progress! Mark (3210KB)


It's March, and migration has started! Birds are heading north, and it won't be long before eggs start to hatch! In fact, some Sandhill cranes have already laid eggs in Florida, and soon baby chicks will be hatching! We see a number of twins in the early part of the spring, though no doubt the parents often lose one of these chicks. But even later in the summer, we see twins and also in the fall! Sandhills have the advantage of much greater numbers than do their Whooper cousins.

No definite answers or reports have come from the WCEP as yet, but early rumors from the necropsies showed the birds drowned, or died as the result of a direct lightning strike on the pensite itself. This remains to be verified, but is very likely a cause.

Our miracle chick, 15-06 is now free and will be heading north soon with other Whoopers and Sandhills. The tracking team is watching him closely, and also the other male that was a cause for concern... #5-01 is out and seeking a new mate. He lost his better half in early January from predation in Hernando County.

The 2 DAR chicks that were taken out of the program last summer due to leg and other problems are now guests in their own habitat at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens here in Florida. You can see how beautiful they are in their photos above, taken on 2/5. For info on the hours the zoo is open and directions to get there, go to their website... .

I talked with zoo Bird Curator, Donna Bear-Hull, about the new DAR Whooper chicks, and also Marianne Wellington, who hatched and raised them at the ICF in Wisconsin last year. Do plan to visit the Jacksonville Zoo if you want to see these young chicks before they become the beautiful Whooping cranes they soon will be! And later, too, of course!

Joe Duff talks about the term 'heroes' being used to describe the OM ultralight pilots, and the safety of the program itself. He feels the term is not applicable to them. You decide... ! I'm no pilot, but hey... it's mighty cold up there when these guys are flying south with the chicks! And what they do is risky, though minimal with their expertise. You can still be part of the Memorial to the Class of 2006 if you'd like by going here... they could really use your assistance for the new class that will soon hatch! And if you have a comment or question, write to us at . (14078KB)


The loss of the Whooping crane flock as a result of the storms of February 2nd has been very hard for the OM team, and all of us who loved these birds and supported them! Watching them hatch, grow and learn to fly and then migrate with the ultralights was marvelous! But like anything beautiful and fleeting, it is not necessarily ours, and we must learn that in an instant, it can be gone. Nature took the Whooping crane Class of 2006 from us, but she left us a bit of hope... crane #15-06 (615) somehow escaped the pen, and left as the storm hit or before. We will never know how, but he is out there, and a reminder of the spirit and strength this flock of birds possessed. His independent nature has left us a ray of hope and blessed us with a reminder that these birds are not really ours! We have dominion over many things... or so we think. But not these ancient spirits. They are and always will be a special creature we can never master nor possess.

I revised WH 17, and made some changes, additions and edits. While much of the material is still on a bright note, please remember it was recorded the week of January 22. The storms hit Central Florida on February 2nd.

There are some important things said, and I wanted to share these with you.

PLEASE HELP THE NEW FLOCK BY REMEMBERING THE CLASS OF 2006! You can donate by going here: Whatever you can do, heartfelt thanks for supporting this highly endangered species and conservation!

In the Photo: Margaret Black's 2nd/3rd graders of Harriett Todd PS in Orillia, Ontario had followed the Class of 2006 since they were chicks. They watched their migration as well, and the loss of the flock has been tough on them. A memorial was made with 17 white flowers, a small tag with a photo of each Whooper as a young colt attached to each. The red rose, which represents hope, is for #615! He lives on and carries the spirit of his flock mates as well as hope for the future. The students 'adopted' each Whooper chick, and this week each (one exception) wrote a 'good-bye' note, expressing their feelings. (Photo courtesy Margaret Black) (13828KB)


Finally... we knew they'd all make it, but they are HERE! On December 19th, the young Whoopers arrived, flying over the Dunnellon Airport and impressing a crowd of about 800 people! Only 17 of the chicks made the flyover, as one was missing from the trip the day before into Gilchrist County. However, the next morning, the search resumed, and Richard Van Heuvelen, guided by top cover pilots Don and Paula Lounsbury, located the missing chick, #615, and found him only 30 minutes from the last destination! He, along with the other 17 chicks, received health checks from the Disney vets, and all appeared doing very well!

This year's migration was the longest, but it also tied another record from 2003... all 18 chicks made it to Florida! In 2003, 16 chicks made the entire journey with no loses.

In January, we'll recap the year for the Whoopers with some of the voices that told us what was happening, and we'll talk with Bev Paulan as well as other members of the OM team.

It's not too late to become a MileMaker sponsor, and miles are available! It's a real charitable tax deduction, and you'll be helping a great cause... saving a lifeform that is still very much endangered, and really needs your help! You can write to us at . Have a great New Year, and thanks for listening and downloading Whooper Happenings!

Photo: OM ultralight pilot Richard Van Heuvelen with 10 of the young Whooping crane chicks as they approach the Dunnellon Airport on December 19th, 2006. (10113KB)


The Operation Migration team is still being grounded by high altitude winds and weather conditions, and their patience has been more than strained this year! However, the finish line is in sight now, and they should make Dunnellon, Florida in the next few days. It will be the longest migration for them yet, but all 18 birds have done well, and the team's spirits, though beaten a bit, will recover once they get here.

Peggy and I went up to Central Georgia to visit them, and we barely missed the birds take-off one recent morning. However, high winds made them scrub their flight, and we caught sight of their return to the pensite. We had some time to visit with them and talk a little about this year's migration, and how well the birds have been doing.

I talked with Joe Duff earlier this year about the top cover pilots and their importance. Also, we met Beverly Paulan, and as this is her first migration with the OM team, we asked her how it has been and her feelings on returning next year.

Don Nieffer is one of the doctors with Disney's Animal Kingdom, and I had a moment to talk with him earlier this summer. He will be conducting the health exams and any treatment needed for the birds after the flyover.

OM ultralight pilot Brooke Pennypacker talked with me recently, and he comments about how well the birds were trained this year. He says credit goes not to the pilots, but to the chick rearing team at Patuxent. However, Brooke, Joe, Richard and Chris are all skilled pilots, and their efforts and guidance of these young Whooper chicks goes a long way... literally and as the birds' parent!

We will bring you commentary from the flyover event coming soon at Dunnellon, so to keep posted go to for the best information.

And, please... it's not too late to become a sponsor in whatever way you can this year! The program is in the red, and needs your help! If you have NOT become a MileMaker sponsor or done what you can, please consider doing so today! They really need your assistance this year!,

Thanks, and if you have a question or comment, write to us at (8281KB)


The Operation Migration team is in northern Tennessee, but has been there for over a week now! They aren't happy about that, as the weather, mostly high altitude winds, have grounded them and the birds. But their arrival in Florida could still be by mid December, all things dependent on the weather of course.

We chatted with the man first to fly with Whooping cranes and lead a migration in 1997, Kent Clegg. Also, we talked with Whooping Crane Coordinator with the USFWS, Tom Stehn; he was a part of Kent's ground crew on that first Whooper Migration. You can read the daily journals (it took them 9 days to cover the 800 miles, but don't even mention this to the OM team!) at: We'll be at the flyover in a few weeks and bring you commentary from the team and fans as well, so be sure to keep abreast of what's happening by going to (14104KB)


The Operation Migration team is moving, but this year their time on the ground is becoming frustrating and the weather just hasn't been too friendly! Winds from the south and cold temps have made things difficult if not impossible some days. The team is currently in northern Indiana, and hopes to be on their way again SOON!

I talked with Sara Zimorski, who's with the International Crane Foundation, and she will be tracking the Whooping cranes from previous years as they head south. Sara also tells us how the tracking team does their work in 'keeping track' of the cranes.

The beautiful video you often see on specials about Operation Migration has been the work of Jeff Huxmann, who is owner of Solterra Productions. Jeff talked with me earlier this year about being on migration in 2003 and 2005 with the team, and his latest video he produced for Operation Migration, 'Hope Takes Wing'.

Later this month I talk with Tom Stehn with the USFWS and the man who first flew with Whooping cranes, leading the first Whooper ultralight-led migration in 1997, Kent Clegg. His comments and experiences are most interesting and worth listening to! Tom was part of Kent's ground crew on the 1997 migration, and he also has some experiences and comments you won't want to miss.

Write to us if you have a comment or question at the 'comments' link on the bottom right, or at (10420KB)


After 8 days in South Wisconsin, a break, and the team and the young Whooper flock are finally south of the border! They have arrived at their first stop in Illinois, but weather and conditions may not allow much progress from here right now.

We talked with ultralight pilot and OM team meteorologist Chris Gullikson, and also Field Supervisor Bev Paulan the following day. The birds just became used to their environment in Sauk County, and were reluctant to leave on the 23rd. But quite a different scenario the following morning, as the entire flock followed the ultralight aircraft and arrived at the pensite with little trouble! We chat with Journey North writer and author, Jane Duden, who was also a teacher. She discusses the impact that Journey North has on young students and others, bringing insight and learning experiences many might never have.

Journey North can be visited here: If you would like to see a website-BLOG about Whooping cranes and be able to express your feelings and banter with other crane and Whooper fanatics (and whomever else) let me know. Drop a note to (8387KB)


It's early October, and the Whoopers have flown! They are heading south, and while it was a slow start, things will begin moving rather quickly! This time around, we touch base the day of migration with Joe Duff, OM's lead pilot, and also Field Supervisor Beverly Paulan. Both are very busy, so we didn't keep them long! And then part 2 of our chat with Operation Migration's co-founder and chairman, Bill Lishman. The team really could use your support as a MileMaker spoonsor, so if you can contribute in any way, please go to , and click the 'MileMaker' link you'll see there. This has been one of the toughest years to date financially for them, and your support would mean so much in getting the birds to Florida! Tax season approaches all too soon, and don't forget that they are a registered charity; your contribution is deductible.

Our next podcast will be around October 22, and we'll report bi-monthly thereafter through the end of 2006. As always, if you have a comment or question, please e-mail us at

In the photo: Aviator, inventor and Operation Migration co-founder Bill Lishman in front of his historic Easy Riser aircraft, which was used in the motion picture, 'Fly Away Home'. (9776KB)


We are just a few weeks away from migration, and this year the Operation Migration team hopes to achieve lift-off on October 1st! The 18 young Whoopers are doing well, and the 2nd and 3rd cohorts have been mixed and are socializing well. Soon, the youngest birds will mix with cohort 1, and the flock will be complete! We'll hear from Beverly Paulan, Operation Migration's Field Supervisor. A few comments from Tom Stehn, National Whooping Crane Coordinator with the USFWS about his work with Kent Clegg, who was the first person to actually fly with Whooping cranes. Congrats to the 4 people who got that right (several took advantage of my hint in the podcast blog and recalled he lives in Idaho!). And, we'll talk with Bill Lishman, who was the first person to actually fly with birds. This is the first of a 2-part chat with Bill; the 2nd part next month. Don't forget about the Necedah Whooping Crane Festival coming up on September 16th (some of you who attend please post your comments here when you get back! It was great last year!). Drop us a comment or if you have a question at In the Photo: Joe Duff with Bill Lishman during a video taping, May 2005. (10759KB)


Can you believe it? It's August, and if the calendar is losing credibility, just step outside! It is HOT! High temps and lack of adequate rain in most areas have made this summer very difficult for the birds, but fortunately outside resources have brought in water to make life bearable in Necedah. Training is progressing, and the birds and staff are doing well. Recent loses of the adult birds from the 2003 flock have been felt, but there is so much to do and time is always a precious thing when training these wonderful birds. We'll talk with Beverly Paulan, the new Field Supervisor for Operation Migration, the FWCC's Marty Folk about the Whitebirds on the Kissimmee Prairie (and the chicks there) and also bring you up to speed on a few other things. Next month, we'll feature the first of a 2-part chat with Operation Migration's co-founder and chairman, and the man referred as 'Father Goose'... Bill Lishman! Bill talks about his first experiences flying with the birds, how Operation Migration almost didn't happen, and also mention's his role in the filming of one of the most memorable scene's in the Sony Motion Picture, 'Winged Migration'. Part 2 with Bill in October. NO ONE answered correctly to last month's podcast question, so let's try it again! Who was the first person to actually fly with Whooping cranes? If you know, or just want to try (it wasn't Bill or Joe!) send your name and address to ; if you are one of the first several correct answers, we'll send a copy of Jane Duden's book, 'Whoop Dreams' along with the elusive Operation Migration lapel pin! But no cheating! OK... want a hint? He still lives in Idaho! :-) In the photo, early morning ultralight flight training with the chicks lead by Joe Duff at Necedah, September 2005. (9282KB)


It's July, and hotter and more humid than ever here in Florida, and this has affected the Kissimmee Prairie flock which is holding its own and has 5 chicks this year. Mark Nipper talks with us one final time as he leaves OM after 4 years. Ultralight pilot and long-time OM ground crew member Richard van Heuvelen chats about his experiences and work with the birds way back before there even was an OM! Brian Johns, Whooping Crane Coordinator for the Canadian Wildlife Services, says they may be having a record year for chicks up in Wood Buffalo, and this year's migration may see a record number of juveniles. And Sara Zimorski talked with us a few weeks ago when ICF still had birds about to hatch eggs, and gives us some updates. Training has begun in Necedah for the new chicks, and if you know who was the first person to fly with Whooping cranes, tell us! Send an e-mail to:, and we'll send the first few correct answers an OM lapel pin. In August, we'll talk with the newest member of the OM team and field supervisor replacing Mark Nipper, Beverly Paulan. Check out the drawing on OM's website, at: where you could be a winner of a trip to see the OM team and watch the birds fly with the ultralights as they train for this fall's migration! (16859KB)


"Things are crazy here at Patuxent", reports OM field supervisor Mark Nipper, "and the birds are equally crazy!" So many chicks have hatched in such a short time, that the staff really is working 24/7! Mark reports some birds are giving them a really tough time, but training at the circle pen is progressing. Due to audio difficulty, the call with Mark was not recorded, but we will have a report from him before the end of June when he leaves OM. We talked with the newest ultralight pilot, Chris Gullikson, who joined Operation Migration last year. He talks about his first year with OM, his experiences and what it was like flying with the birds. I asked Joe Duff what his early expectations and goals might have been for the OM program, and whether he had envisioned any of the program, or it just evolved. Information about the Wood Buffalo flock is reported and also how the birds are doing on the Kissimmee Prairie. For daily updates and more information, do visit the Operation Migration site at ... click on the 'in the field' link on the left side. Things are happening, and birds are growing and maturing. In July we'll talk with OM ultralight pilot Richard Van Heuvelen, Brian Johns with the Canadian Wildlife Services, and one last time with Mark. In the photo: OM ultralight pilot Chris Gullikson talks with folks at the flyover event right after completing the 2005 migration in Dunnellon, Florida on December 13th. Write us at (10870KB)


We will try to bring you up to speed, as a lot is happening mid-month. Mark Nipper is busy watching the eggs and baby chicks at Patuxent WRC in MD, and we'll talk with him. We begin a series of interviews with the Operation Migration ultralight pilots, this time Brooke Pennypacker talks about his work with OM, past experiences and his feelings about working with the birds. Next month Chris Gullikson will be our guest, followed by Richard van Heuvelen. We were invited to join OM's Joe Duff, Liz Condie and Brooke Pennypacker at Disney's Animal Kingdom for International Migratory Bird Day May 13th. We talked with our OM friends and park guests as well as Disney Zoological Manager Scott Tidmus about IMBD and what it means. Barbara Waaland of Oakland, CA was a day off the first chick hatch date contest, but we declared her the winner. Thanks, Barbara! Our sincere appreciation to all at Disney for a wonderful day at Animal Kingdom, and as always, our thanks for putting up with us to our OM friends!

In the photo, a costumed Brooke Pennypacker waves to Maya as she is 'banded' by Disney Zoological Manager, Scott Tidmus. Children visited 5 park stations Disney set-up to learn how and why birds migrate. We hope all had a happy IMBD! (9657KB)


It's early May, and our whitebirds are mostly back on the homefront in Wisconsin now, but the Aransas flock is still making their way home. We are just days away from the first Whooper chick hatching (PS-first chick hatched 5/5/06), and we'll hear from Lara Fondow with the USFWS (recently with ICF) about the eggs from #213 & 218; Mark Nipper says they have plenty of eggs at Patuxent with more coming, and Sara Zimorski tells us how their nesting birds are contributing from the ICF. OM's Chris Danilko talks a bit about her work in the Port Perry, Ontario office and the MileMaker sponsor program, and Joe Duff discusses his expectations for chicks this year. Our next episode will have OM ultralight pilot Brooke Pennypacker, and in June, Chris Gullikson. We will have a winner in the Whooper chick hatch date contest! Stay tuned! (7726KB)


It's April 2006, and our Whoopers, their Sandhill cousins and so many others are migrating back north. We'll hear from Operation Migration's Mark Nipper, and see how he's coping with 'empty nest syndrom' now that the birds have left Florida! (They left on 3/27 and 3/28) Joe Duff talks about numbers and the importance of conservation, Dr. John French, the Research Director at Patuxent Research Center discusses his expectations now that winter storm damage has been repaired, and how it may impact nesting and breeding of the Whoopers this season. Tom Stehn discusses the reality of young Whooping cranes as parents, and finally... a new contest! Just e-mail your guess as to what date the first baby Whooper will hatch! OM's MileMaker Campaign is on and more! (6848KB)


In this March episode #3, we chat with Tom Stehn, National Whooping Crane Coordinator with the USFWS about the recent Port Aransas Whooper Festival, and also their guest speaker, Dr. George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin, and leading expert on all 15 species of cranes around the world. Dr. George discusses the bird flu epidemic and its global impact on migratory birds. We also report on the Kissimmee Prairie Flock and hear from Operation Migration's Mark Nipper. Be the first to correctly guess what day the OM birds will leave Chassahowitzka, and we'll send you a neat Operation Migration tie-tac/lapel pin. (8073KB)


This episode reports the Florida white birds and how they're doing with Sara Zimorski and Mark Nipper, we hear about the Kissimmee Prairie flock from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission field supervisor Marty Folk, and Operation Migration's Joe Duff talks about last year's migration and working with the Whooping cranes.

Chris Gullikson approaches the Dunnellon, FL airport on December 13, 2005 with 7 juvenile Whooping cranes on his wing. The efforts of Operation Migration and its partners have now brought the total of Whooping Cranes in North America to about 475. By 1941 this total was only 15, but the efforts of many over years have not changed the Whooping Crane's status, as it remains the most endangered bird and perhaps life form in the world. (7871KB)


This first episode has on-the-scene reporting from the Operation Migration flyover 12/13/05, and unsolicited as well as solicited commentary from those attending. Interviews with Sara Zimorski, Joe Duff, Walter Sturgeon and the new top cover pilots. Whooper Happenings will present current information about Whooping Cranes across North America and those who work with and help to preserve and guide this highly endangered species. Actual voice-cuts and interviews with the biologists who do the work and handle the birds as well as those who fly with them (Operation Migration ultralight pilots) is offered. Photo info: Brooke Pennypacker guides a single, juvenile Whooping Crane into the Dunnellon, FL airport area on December 13, 2005. The efforts of Operation Migration and its partners have now brought the total of Whooping Cranes in North America to about 475. By 1941 this total was only 15, but the efforts of many over years have not changed the Whooping Crane's status, as it remains the most endangered bird and perhaps life form in the world. (13550KB)


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