Saturday, October 25, 2008

Beaches, Baboons, and Birds Oh My!

Mom was gone all day today with her fellow zoo docents. She was with them last Saturday too when they went to the Milwaukee Zoo. Hey zoo docents - I need my mom at home with me on the weekends. You get her on Friday, but the rest of weekend is Stubby time!

I wanted to sleep in this morning, but noooo, mom had to get up early to leave for Indiana. You heard me right - Indiana, a red state. Today was the 5th annual sandhill crane trip, which is lead by mom's day captain David. Yet another trip that I wasn't invited to go on. I try not to take this personally, but one of these days I am going to stage a protest.

Before mom got to Indiana, she had to fight the traffic (yes, traffic jams at 8:30 am on a Saturday morning) in the city so that she could pick up Zina. Zina was ready to go, all bundled up, with snack bars in tow. I love Zina - she pets me and sends me emails.

After picking up Zina, the next stop was Purdue University, Calumet to pick up Sashi. Sashi was in her office catching up on some work when mom and Zina got there. I love Sashi - she also pets me and sends me emails.

With everyone packed up in the car and ready to go, mom drove to David's house in Beverly Shores. Mom loves David's house and she doesn't understand why he doesn't live there all the time. Mom tells me that David has the most cozy house and that it is very dog friendly (hint, hint). Linda, David's wife, made carrot soup and squash soup for lunch, along with several different kinds of baked goods. This was basically a vegetarian feast (except for the salami appetizer), so it really wasn't my type of party.

With a belly full of soup, mom, Jen, Anna, and Robin walked to the beach. David's house is right around the corner from the beach (which is another reason mom likes it), and even though it was a little cool, just being on a beach always makes mom happy. Jen took lots of pictures and soon it was time to leave David's house and head out to North Judson to the Peaceable Primate Sanctuary.
The Primate Sanctuary will be the only sanctuary in the U.S. designed specifically to house baboons. Scott Kubisch, Lincoln Park zookeeper extraordinaire, is the brainchild behind the sanctuary. He has been dreaming about opening the sanctuary for many years and is just months away from being ready to accept animals. The sanctuary is a little more than hallfway between David's house and the cranes, so every year the docents stop by to check on the construction progress. Scott, along with Luz and John, took the docents on a tour of the sanctuary. Mom is so excited and proud of all the work Scott has done. His committment and passion are unsurpassed. Check out the sanctuary website at and witness for yourself what a truly amazing place this is going to be. Maybe I can visit once the baboons are finally there. I am sure that baboons like pugs. The cranes were calling (literally), so the group headed on to Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area.

At just over 8,000 acres, Jasper-Pulaski’s suitable habitat provides an ideal stopover for migratory birds. More than 10,000 Sandhill Cranes each day stop during fall migration, mid-October through mid-December. The cranes that stop here are the eastern population of Greater Sandhill Cranes and 90% of this subspecies stops here each fall. I wonder if I am a greater pug, a subspecies of pug.

The docents usually arrive about an hour before sunset, but they arrived a little early today, so there weren't many cranes there when they arrived. They headed up to the observation deck to get a better look at the birds in Goose Pasture. The cranes fly in, gab, and socialize before returning to roosting marshes at dusk. While they were there, some small flocks flew in, but nothing like what they have seen in the past. Someone from DNR spoke to the assembled group about the cranes and mom said that it was very interesting. Most of you know that mom is bird crazy, but all of you know that she has a bad memory (except when it comes to remembering the words to disco songs), so she appreciated the talk. The cranes are counted every day and the guy said that yesterday's count was 7,000. Why so few? Mom thinks the cranes are confused by the crazy weather and that this is messing up their migration.

Cranes are among the oldest living birds on the planet. Fossil records place Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska more than nine million years ago. Today, there are about 650,000 sandhill cranes. The population is stable to increasing, except for 2 subspecies that are endangered.

Sandhill cranes are among the most thoroughly studied cranes species and have long been among the most studied wildlife species in North America. Most of the recent research derives from its importance as a surrogate in efforts to reestablish Whopping Crane populations.

In Canada and the United States, the hunting of Sandhill Cranes is regulated under the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916. Hunting was prohibited until increased interest in Sandhill Cranes as game animals led to the opening of hunting seasons in Canada in 1959, in the United States in 1961, and in Mexico since at least 1940. In the U.S., Sandhill Cranes are now legally hunted in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. In Canada, Sandhill Cranes are hunted in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In Mexico, hunting is permitted in nine northern and central states. All of this makes mom very sad. Even though the populations are stable or increasing, hunting them puts Whopping Cranes, that sometimes fly with them, at danger. Please find something else to do with your time instead of hunt helpless birds. Getting involved in saving birds is much better than shooting them.

Mom loves the yearly crane trip. She had a great time and was very glad that Jen joined them this year. Mom is going to make Jen a birder if it kills her!

1 comment:

Wendy said...

The link to the primatesanctuary does not work. My daughter is a Zoology major at Ball State and resides in Buffalo IN during the summer - she is really interested in what is happening.