A Manmade Migration Marvel!

CARMEL, IN | Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Wild Birds Unlimited supports Whooping Crane reintroduction effort

As endangered Whooping Cranes take to the sky guided by ultra light aircraft in a second historic migration journey, people along their route can plot the birds’ progress with maps they can access from Wild Birds Unlimited.

This is the second year Whooping Cranes, which were raised by humans in crane costumes, are being escorted from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin to their winter home in Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. The 17 cranes began their journey Oct. 13, 2002. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is coordinating an effort to introduce a second population of the birds into North America. The service is working with several conservation groups under the umbrella of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. Operation Migration is one of the conservation groups involved, and its volunteers pilot the ultra light aircraft and monitor the journey.

Wild Birds Unlimited, a specialty birdfeeding franchise with more than 290 stores throughout North America, has supported this project in a variety of ways. The company has a Pathways To Nature Conservation Fund, to which all stores contribute a portion of sales. The fund has awarded two grants so far to this project – one grant to pay for one of the Operation Migration ultra light aircraft and education materials and another grant to help fund enclosures where the birds live while they are learning to fly behind the ultra light aircraft, a viewing blind where people can watch the cranes but remain out of sight and education materials for schoolchildren to learn about this endangered species. “Wild Birds Unlimited is proud to support this effort to re-establish this important species,” said Jim Carpenter, CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited. “Every day our storeowners work hard to bring our mission of bringing people and nature together alive for our customers in each one of our communities. Helping the Whooping Cranes is just one way we contribute to preserving nature on a national scale.” Last year the reintroduction program successfully guided seven birds south for the winter. Five of the birds returned on their own to Necedah in the spring, and they are beginning to show signs of getting ready to migrate to Florida. People can access a map of the cranes’ route on the company’s Web site, www.wbu.com, by selecting Bird FeederCam®. The map includes a place to track the amount of miles the birds fly each day on their trip. People also can receive education materials at participating Wild Birds Unlimited stores. These materials include children’s activity sheets about the Whooping Cranes and information about the importance of water conservation.

Wild Birds Unlimited is based in Carmel, IN (an Indianapolis suburb) and specializes in bringing people and nature together by providing expert information and offering an exclusive line of products designed specifically for the backyard birdfeeding hobby. The company is committed to educating the public about the importance of preserving natural wildlife habitats. Interesting Whooping Crane facts In 1941, there were only 21 Whooping Cranes in all of North America. There are now nearly 400 Whooping Cranes thanks to federal protection under the endangered species act and captive breeding efforts such as the current reintroduction program. The Whooping Cranes’ numbers declined during the 1900s because of habitat loss. Many wetlands were drained during this time and converted to farmland. Whooping Cranes stand 5-feet tall and are the tallest birds in North America. They eat minnows, frogs, crabs, insects, clams and crayfish. They sleep standing in shallow water to stay safe from predators.

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Wild Birds Unlimited
11711 N. College Ave., #146
Carmel, IN

Phone: (888)730-7108
Fax: (317)208-4050

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