Meet Archie the Whooping Crane (named after ICF Co-founder Dr. George Archibald), who is traveling the world to showcase ICF’s programs. We’re excited to see where he goes!
Just in from the field! Check out Archie’s story map to follow his adventures.
Archie has traveled to Africa! This summer Archie met ICF’s Zambia Program Coordinator, Griffin Shanungu, three new ecologists working for the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), and a dedicated ZAWA volunteer from Germany! The team spent time in Lochinvar National Park in southeastern Zambia, and explored the expansive Kafue Flat wetlands. The Kafue River is a large tributary of the Zambezi River, and it runs through the country of Zambia. The Kafue Flats are a large floodplain that becomes filled with wetlands when the Kafue River floods. These seasonal wetlands serve as critical habitat for the Wattled and Grey Crowned Cranes, as well as for a diversity of other wildlife in the region. Together, Archie and Griffin helped train these conservationists how to conduct crane and waterbird surveys, so that they can continue this type of monitoring in the National Parks where they work. This collaboration, in cooperation with BirdWatch Zambia, will help increase the information gathered from crane sites in other ‘Important Bird Areas’ throughout the area. Click here to learn more about our work in the Zambezi River basin!
Photo: Archie uses a spotting scope to train ZAWA conservationists to locate cranes and other important waterbirds
10/31/14. This month, ‘Dr. Archie’ had the chance to conduct checkups on his relatives during ICF’s annual health check for our captive flock. With a team of diligent volunteers, seasonal interns, veterinary and aviculture staff (above), Archie helped ensure the health and well-being of ICF’s large captive flock of cranes, while giving participants the opportunity to learn more about husbandry and avian medicine. Together. they documented weight, took blood samples, administered vaccines and even clipped some feathers and nails. ICF’s breeding facility is dubbed ‘Crane City’ due to the 80-plus cranes that dwell there. The cranes in Crane City are rarely seen by the public, but they are some of our most valuable birds. They help maintain the genetic diversity of our captive flock, and contribute to crane conservation through breeding and reintroduction programs.
10/13/14. This summer, Archie found himself teaching at the International Nature School (INS) for children at two important crane sites in Northeast China. The first site, Shuangtaizihekou National Nature Reserve in Lianoning, China is an important breeding site for Red-crowned Cranes. The second site in Huanzidong, China is an important stopover site for the endangered Siberian Crane. In these two areas, ICF’s Su Liying (with Archie’s assistance!) led educational sessions for children at the nature schools. Many ICF colleagues and staff flocked to these areas in order to help, including Yulia Momose from the Red-crowned Crane Conservancy in Japan, Lee Kisip from Seoul National University, Jim and Steve Harris from ICF, Beijing Brooks Education Center, Green Panjin, the Faku County Government, as well as numerous graduate and undergraduate students. Learn more about ICF’s involvement in educational programs in China!
Photo: Archie in action with ICF’s Senior Vice President Jim Harris teaching the nature school students about what it is like to be a crane.
9/17/14. Archie traveled to the upper part of the Mekong River Delta to investigate the interesting work at ICF’s projects in Phu My (Vietnam) and in Kampong Trach (Cambodia). ICF’s Cambodia project officer, Leav Phalen, joined him at the border, coming down from Phnom Penh. ICF had purchased equipment and helped to train people in Phu My to convert their traditional weaving expertise into a more profitable business that exported woven products. This has led to an alternative to shrimp pond development in this region of Vietnam, while encouraging the restoration and preservation of valuable wetland habitat for Sarus Cranes (learn more about ICF’s Habitats to Handbags initiative in Phu My).
Work at Phu My is going well under the direction of Le Du Vu, and Archie got his feet dirty while filling an order. Across the border, only a few kilometers away as the cranes fly, Kampong Trach provides roost habitat for cranes that feed at Phu My and elsewhere in Cambodia. Archie was excited to learn of the progress that we are making in helping residents living near Anlong Pring Wildlife Sanctuary of Kampong Trach District using the same techniques developed at Phu My.
Photo: Leav Phalen, Le Du Vu, Nguyen Hoai Bao, and ICF’s Field Ecology Department Director, Jeb Barzen, pose with Archie in front of the Phu My project headquarters. Nguyen Hoai Bao is a graduate student studying the small wetlands of Southeast Asia that are critical to breeding Sarus Cranes.
8/26/14. In mid-June, Archie tagged along on an aerial survey with ICF’s Field Ecology team above Horicon Marsh in eastern Wisconsin. Together, they used radio telemetry to search for the rarest crane in the world, the Whooping Crane. The reintroduced Whooping Cranes found in Wisconsin during the breeding season are all outfitted with colored leg bands and a radio transmitter. Each bird has a transmitter with a unique frequency and specific band color combination that identifies each crane. In this way, the movements of individual birds can be tracked by conservationists like Archie! One way in which ICF tracks these birds is by picking up transmitter frequencies while in an airplane. This enables members of our Field Ecology Department to find individual Whooping Cranes and to make a visual confirmation of the bird’s location. Using radio telemetry helps ICF monitor and study the reintroduced Whooping Crane population. Learn more about our Whooping Crane reintroduction efforts.
Photo by Eva Szyszkoski
8/12/14. In June, Archie paid a visit to friend and collaborator Techkun Bun Saluth (left, photo by Jeb Barzen) in Oddar Meanchay Province, Cambodia. Techkun Bun Saluth is the leader of Buddist monks in this region of northwestern Cambodia, where he established a community forest near Samrong City. The Monk Community Forest supports the scattered, small wetlands in the open forest that serve as nesting habitat for Eastern Sarus Cranes. His work has been recognized by the Equator Initiative, the same prize awarded to ICF’s project in Phu My, Vietnam (learn more about ICF’s work in the Mekong River basin). Techkun Bun Saluth and ICF have worked to combine cultural traditions with other tools that benefit communities to
protect both people’s livelihoods and the nesting areas of cranes and other endangered waterbirds in Southeast Asia.
7/29/14. In late June, Archie attended the celebration of Muraviovka Park’s 20th Anniversary with ICF’s Senior Vice President, Jim Harris. Muraviovka Park was established in 1994 on over 6,500 hectares of wetlands and arable lands in southeast Russia. Six species of threatened and endangered cranes, the Oriental White Stork, and over twenty other rare and endangered species of birds inhabit the Park. This refuge also helps to educate the public about the conservation of the environment through summer camps for children, and since 1994 ICF has brought teams of American school teachers to assist with the camps. The Park has also exchanged students and teachers with crane reserves in nearby China, strengthening awareness in both countries of their shared interest in cranes, wetlands, and other resources in the region (learn more about Muraviovka Park).
Photo: American volunteer Regina Durst with Archie and three leaders of the Amur Cossacks celebrate Muraviovka Park’s 20th Anniversary. Photo by Jim Harris
7/8/14. Last month, Archie met a three-day-old Hooded Crane, Wasabi (left)! Hatched at ICF, Wasabi represents our involvement with the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Hooded Cranes. SSP’s are designed to help manage captive populations in order to maintain genetic diversity and ensure healthy populations within the zoo community. As a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, ICF actively participates in SSP recommendations. Hooded Crane populations in captivity are not currently reproducing at a rate that will sustain genetic diversity over the long-term, so some extra attention is being paid to the species. Earlier this spring, ICF sent a fertile Hooded Crane egg to the Denver Zoo (Wasabi’s sibling), which has since hatched. This chick is now living alongside another Hooded Crane the Zoo received from ICF in 2012. Learn more about that transfer, and our relationship with the Denver Zoo.
6/25/14. From May 31-June 17 Archie found himself alongside ICF’s Director of Field Ecology, Jeb Barzen, the Director of ICF’s Southeast Asia Program, Tran Triet, and several valued colleagues in Maha Sarakham, Thailand. Together, they were teaching 19 eager and dedicated students the art and science of wetland ecology (above, Archie assists one of the students with their field notes). In its 11th year, the Regional Training Course on Wetland Ecology and Management has brought together 18 universities in the Mekong River Basin to form the University Network of Southeast Asia. The University Network has become a hub for learning and research within this rich and complex wetland ecosystem, and now serves as an important landmark for the future of this area and the diversity of species that rely on the region’s wetlands (including people!)
6/11/14. On May 23-24, Archie joined a crowd of enthusiastic birders to view two of the most endangered bird species of North America: the Kirtland’s Warbler and the Whooping Crane! This rare opportunity was offered by the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and brought a variety of interested people to Adams County, Wis. The event allowed participants to learn about these special birds alongside the biologists who work with these species recovery efforts. With Archie’s help, two of ICF’s own, Jeb Barzen (Director of Field Ecology) and Anne Lacy (Crane Research Coordinator), added to the experience by providing the group with information on the history and challenges of the Whooping Crane Recovery and even going out to radio-track some Whooping Cranes. To find out more about how ICF (and Archie!) has helped with Whooping Crane conservation, read about the Five Steps to Save Whooping Cranes.
Photo: ICF’s Jeb Barzen demonstrates radio-tracking with Archie’s assistance. Photo by Barb Barzen
5/28/14. Last week, Josh, a female Whooping Crane in ICF’s flock, laid our 50th egg of the season (we have 11 breeding females who have produced this record-breaking number of eggs!) Unfortunately, Josh is known for breaking eggs, but this didn’t foil our staff – they hurried to Josh’s enclosure, removed the precious egg, and placed it under a neighboring pair, Aransas and Achilles, who are excellent incubators. The pair was incubating two dummy (fake) eggs, and our staff carefully swapped out one of the dummy eggs with Josh’s egg.
While our staff were swapping eggs, they replaced the second dummy egg with a telemetry egg, which collects information on the egg’s temperature, humidity and movement – all to help us better understand Whooping Crane incubation so that we can better calibrate our artificial incubators. View more images from the egg swap on Facebook, and learn more about how we manage egg production at ICF in our graphic, Chicks – Don’t Just – Happen.
Photo: Archie poses with one of the dummy eggs removed from Aransas and Achilles’ nest (note the row of additional dummy eggs in the background).
5/14/14. Last Friday, Archie traveled with Dr. George Archibald to search for Whooping Crane nests in central Wisconsin. Their visit was just one day after the year’s first wild Whooping Crane chick hatched at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on May 8 (learn more about the first hatch).
4/30/14: Archie’s first adventure was last week at the UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute Earth Day conference, where he got a lift from Tia Nelson (pictured), ICF supporter and daughter of Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson. Thank you, Tia!