Several months ago I added the Blogger sidebar widget "most popular posts" and set it to show most popular posts in the past thirty days. From time to time, I check it to see what people are most interested in and which posts are taking the top four positions. I'm happy to report that presently CRANES are dominating that interest, hands down!
The Asian Hooded Crane appeared at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge and was first reported on Dec 13th; my post on this crane has been in the top position ever since it went up on the 14th. What is more exciting are the updates provided by Charles Murray, a long-time resident of the Birchwood, TN, community, who visits the Hiwassee refuge frequently and reports activities via the TN-bird list serve. Below is his report from today, December 26th:
"...assists from a coyote and a bald eagle stirred up the sandhill cranes this afternoon and brought the hooded crane into view at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. It had not been seen earlier in the day. A record number of visitors, at least 131, were present, and four more states were added--Illinois, Maine, Minnesota and Missouri. Twenty-eight states have been noted to date. Fourteen different states were represented today alone. The total number of visitors since the hooded crane was first sighted at HWR on December 13 is now AT LEAST 779! A juvenile whooping crane was still present, along with at least a few thousand sandhill cranes and at least two bald eagles. Several large and small flocks of ducks flew over or were in the slough at HWR as well."
---Charles Murray, Birchwood, TN
An awesome tribute to cranes!
The second most popular post, having been in that position for the past several months, is my Whooping Crane Family post entitled, Happy Reunion. The post shows my observations of a whooping crane chick reuniting with its parents after an International Crane Foundation health check and actually shows the female parent feeding the chick while the chick swims. I attribute this post's popularity to the fact that Operation Migration is still making it's way south with the ultralight migration Whooping Crane Class of 2011, having faced one of the most difficult fall migrations thus far with lengthy weather delays. The crew is currently on holiday break and will resume the migration again in January. The migration's current stop-over site is in Franklin County, Alabama.
The season opened on December 17th and will continue through January 15th or until the 400 bird quota limit is reached. Many states are now holding sandhill crane festivals to celebrate the staging and wintering of thousands of migrating sandhill cranes and more people are becoming aware of Kentucky's hunting season.
Below, in the links section, you will find two insightful newspaper articles recently published in Louisville, KY and Tampa Bay, FL. One an opinion letter, the other an article about reactions to hunting sandhill cranes, they highlight events occurring in many states as communities and state parks capitalize on the wildlife viewing opportunity provided by staging sandhill cranes, offering not only a thrilling opportunity for family education and entertainment, but an opportunity to promote conservation while bringing millions of dollars into the state's economy. (see article links below).
The 21st annual Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival, a free event for the public, will be taking place January 14th and 15th, 2012 at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge and Birchwood Tennessee. If food remains prevalent for the cranes and the winter remains as moderate as we've had thus far, you can bet we will still have three exciting crane species present for visitors to enjoy and celebrate!
Links and Resources:
Hiwassee's Hooded Crane on NPR with video
Nashville Tennessean article Dec 29th: Rare Crane Draws Birders from 32 states.
Make your plans to attend the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival
Directions to Birchwood and the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge
Hooded Crane is Season's Gift by Marcia Davis
Times Free Press--Rare Hooded Crane Seen
Sandhill crane and Whooping crane gourd art baskets in my online shop
Top Crane Posts on this blog:
Hooded Crane at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in TN
Whooping Crane Family--Happy Reunion!
Sandhill Crane Hunting in Tennesseee? Multiple Factors Say No!
Shooting Sandhill Cranes? Not in our backyard! Tampa Bay Times Dec 31st
Tampa Bay Times--Migratory Sandhill Cranes to be Hunted in Kentucky Dec 24th
Louisville Courier Journal--pg 2, Promote Eco-tourism
Kentucky Coalition for Sandhill Cranes
Petition site: No Hunting for Sandhill Cranes in the East with more than 3060 signatures.
All my blog posts opposing the hunting of eastern sandhill cranes
Whooping Crane Reintroduction links:
Operation Migration's Ultralight-led whooping crane migration--In the Field
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership--Direct Autumn Release Program
International Crane Foundation
My Whooping Crane Family Series
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.