Thursday, August 19, 2010

Find Us On Facebook!

Prairie Woods has many wonderful friends from around the world. Come read their posts and add your own. Many of the posts are of current environmental news and important to read. Hope to see you soon.

Friday, August 13, 2010


On Saturday, July 31, 2010, Prairie Woods Audubon board members were treated to a “behind the scenes” look at the Whooping Cranes being trained to follow the ultra-light aircraft at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Necedah, Wisconsin. This training is to prepare them for the young Whoopers’ first migration to Florida in the fall. Each group of birds at Necedah are called “cohorts”. Each cohort is comprised of birds of different ages, so as to be able to train each group in stages accordingly. Board members saw Cohort One, which is up to its full compliment of eight birds, and is the oldest group on site. David Johnson, Operation Migration board member, and Joe Duff, Operation Migration Co-founder and C.E.O. (and pilot) were our hosts.

Joe Duff joined Bill Lishman in 1993 and helped him conduct the first human-led bird migration. The two "artists turned naturalists" used two ultralight aircraft to lead 18 Canada geese from Ontario to Virginia. The success of this initial study led to the founding of Operation Migration the following year, and the making of "Fly Away Home" in 1995. For the film, Duff trained the "actor geese" to follow the aircraft, and worked closely with the production crew; even contributing some of the footage. In the same year Joe led Sandhill cranes in flights around southern Ontario, as well as leading 60 geese to South Carolina with Lishman and the OM crew. Joe heads the team that conducts ongoing fieldwork and annually leads a new generation of Whooping cranes on their1200+ mile migration from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.

The first time you experience the “performance” of the young Whoopers following an ultra-light, you get the feeling that you are in the presence of something very special….not to mention feeling quite privileged that you are one of only a few individuals who has witnessed this momentous, quite unique process. Even for those who don’t follow every move of the Whooping Crane “initiation” process every year (courtesy of the daily notes posted on the “In The Field” page found at, the experience of watching this process was found to be almost spiritual. Also in the presence of the young chicks was an older Whooper from the 2005 flock that has been hanging out with them. It apparently decided that it was going to take advantage of the handouts that were being given to the chicks during training; well, hey, why should it have to forage on its own when there’s free food to be had? One smart bird.

Efforts to establish a non-migratory Whooping crane flock began in Florida in 1993, using cranes hatched in captivity. In September, 1999, after searching for the best possible location to establish a second migratory flock, it was recommended that the flock be taught a migration route with central Wisconsin as the northern terminus and the west coast of Florida as the new wintering location. Operation Migration's ultralight-led migration technique is the main reintroduction method. Today, over 40 Whooping cranes are migrating in eastern North America brought about by the efforts of Operation Migration and their partners in the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. The Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) numbered 97 Whooping Cranes at the end of the July 24th reporting period. This number breaks down into 52 males, 45 females and 2 wild-hatched chicks.

A recent posting by Joe Duff makes one realize that the Operation Migration folks themselves, who work so intensely with these cranes, don’t take their experience for granted and still have a soft spot for these guys even after ten years.
Date: July 20, 2010
Reporter: Joe Duff
Location: Necedah NWR

Maybe if we were working with snails or trying to reintroduce an endangered cactus it would be easier to maintain the proper scientific aloofness. If it were anything less regal than a Whooping crane, it would be simpler to stay emotionally detached. As it is, we use numbers instead of names and minimize the amount of time we spend with them but it is still hard to remain impartial. We keep our distance so they can be wild creatures but it is not easy.

When they get older and after they have been on their own for a while, they tend to be a little more aggressive. Each encounter starts with a little posturing. But when they are young and covered in fluff, more legs and feet than body, they are just too hard to resist. When they run behind you in unquestioning loyalty with wing outstretched for a purpose they have yet to comprehend, they are just too damned cute.
Operation Migration relies solely on donations from individuals and other organizations to continue their work. Please visit for more information on how you can contribute to this very worthy cause.

Friday, July 30, 2010

National Audubon News For Your Reading

Audubon President & CEO

David Yarnold has been named the new President and Chief Executive Officer of Audubon, effective September 1, 2010, giving new momentum to efforts to connect people with nature and their power to protect it. A passionate conservationist, Yarnold currently serves as Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund and President of Environmental Defense Action Fund. Prior to that, he was a Pulitzer Prize-winning editor at the San Jose Mercury News. A passionate conservationist, Yarnold currently serves as Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund and President of Environmental Defense Action Fund. Prior to that, he was a Pulitzer Prize-winning editor at the San Jose Mercury News.

“David brings proven leadership in the for-profit and non-profit sectors to Audubon at a time when efforts to protect birds, habitats and the resources that sustain us are needed more than ever;” said Holt Thrasher, Audubon’s Board Chair. “His leadership ability, his passion for conservation and grassroots action, his communications skills and his organizational expertise all make him the perfect fit for the Audubon of 2010 and beyond.”

“David is a boundary-crosser, the kind of flexible thinker and values-based executive that a complex conservation and fundraising landscape demands right now,” Thrasher said. “He shares Audubon’s traditional passion for birds and its visionary understanding that helping people to protect them will safeguard our own future as well. I have no doubt that David will lead Audubon in expanding its reach to new audiences and elevating its conservation successes to new heights.”

Yarnold has been at EDF since April 2005, where he is responsible for all operations, from programs, to development and marketing/communications. He helped expand EDF’s innovative corporate partnerships work, focused on EDF's international programs, particularly in China, and helped the organization grow from $52M to $117M in revenue. He is also President of the organization’s Action Fund, its political action arm.

“Audubon’s mission has never been more relevant. From the grassroots to state houses to national and regional policy, its wingspan is unparalleled,” Yarnold said. “I’m excited by the opportunity to work with a nationwide network of Audubon Chapters and Audubon Centers that combine local concern, knowledge and action to equal conservation that makes a difference on a grand scale. It will be an honor lead an organization whose name has meant ‘trust’ and ‘conservation achievement’ for more than a hundred years.”

Yarnold’s San Jose Mercury News was consistently ranked as one of America’s 10 Best Newspapers. His paper was called, “America’s Boldest Newspaper” by a panel of international judges. During his time in San Jose, the Mercury News was widely recognized for its commitment to diversity and for its in-depth coverage of technology. He was also one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists for editorial writing in 2005.

“For me, going to Audubon is like going home. Community-based education and action that breeds broader changes has always been engaging and rewarding for me and those are the things Audubon does best,” Yarnold said.

He will assume the Presidency of Audubon on Sept 1. Yarnold will replace Dr. Frank Gill who generously and with great skill stepped in as Audubon’s interim President following the departure in January of long-time CEO John Flicker.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Help Stop BP from Torching Endangered Sea Turtles

We thought we would share this information with our readers.

Reports keep coming in from locals in the Gulf and stories on NPR and in The New York Times -- endangered sea turtles are being burned alive as part of BP's careless oil spill cleanup efforts.

This is unacceptable. These rare, important turtles are becoming trapped in the oily surface of the Gulf and then torched by cleanup crews in "controlled burns" of corralled oil -- any wildlife caught inside the corral are literally burned alive.

And it's illegal: As protected species under the Endangered Species Act, anyone responsible for killing a Kemp's Ridley sea turtle -- the turtle most affected by the Gulf oil disaster -- is liable for criminal penalties including prison time and civil fines of up to $25,000 for each violation.

Take action right now and send this to all your friends. Tell BP to stop torching endangered sea turtles. The turtles should not be burned alive in the process of cleaning up the oil spill that's already destroying their habitat. We can stop it and get the turtles out of harm's way with your help.

Click here to find out more and take action.

If you have trouble following the link, go to


BP: Stop blocking the rescue of endangered sea turtles before you burn them alive in your surface oil "controlled burn" cleanup operations. You have a responsibility to protect these rare, important turtles and it is illegal under the Endangered Species Act to kill these imperiled species

Donate now to support our work.

In situ burn photo courtesy Flickr Commons/Deepwater Horizon Response; Kemp's Ridley sea turtle photo by Bill Reaves, Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Center for Biological Diversity P.O. Box 710 Tucson, AZ 857021- 866-357-3349

Wednesday, January 27, 2010




From January 21 through April 15, 2010, Prairie Woods Audubon will be holding a raffle to raise funds for Operation Migration (OM). OM has faced a number of unpredictable and costly challenges during their Fall 2009 southbound migration. OM is a non-profit organization operating in the United States and Canada, they rely on grants and contributions from individuals and foundations to fund future efforts. THEY NEED YOUR HELP!

OM has played a leading role in the reintroduction of endangered Whooping cranes into eastern North America since 2001. In the 1940s the species was reduced to just 15 birds in the U.S.; today it is up to 389 (as of July 2008). OM is a founding partner of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP), the coalition of non-profit organizations and government agencies behind the project to safeguard the endangered Whooping crane from extinction.

There are two (2) sets of raffle items. Both sets contain: An Operation Migration t-shirt, pin, notepad and a book titled, “The Whooping Crane: North America’s Symbol of Conservation.” In addition to this, one set has a plush, 14” Whooping Crane, the other set has a handcrafted wheat straw Crane ornament. Both sets will be on display at all four meetings held during this period. If you are unable to attend a meeting during this time but would like to participate in the raffle/give a donation, please contact Pat Prichard at

In addition to the raffle we are holding, there are other ways in which you can contribute: participate in the “Give a WHOOP!” campaign or the MileMaker program, become a member, purchase merchandise or give a donation. Please visit Operation Migration’s web site at for more information.

Raffle tickets are $2.00 each, or $5.00 for three (3).