As you might have noticed, Ocean Wild Things has been on vacation! During my trip I had the chance to visit the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin. I highly recommend a visit if you happen to be in the area, Baraboo is a quick drive north from Madison.
While Baraboo is a long way from any coast, cranes are still the perfect topic for Ocean Wild Things because they hang out in wetlands across the globe, often along the coast. The International Crane Foundation keeps very busy working to protect all fifteen species of cranes that live on five different continents. Ten species of cranes are threatened with extinction as humans encroach on their very specialized wetland habitats and grasslands leaving cranes with fewer eating options forcing them into unwelcome areas such as farmers’ fields.
Cranes suffer a variety of untimely deaths at the hands of humans including poisoning by farmers, shotguns fired by hunters, not to mention nets and traps. The size of cranes makes them easy targets, the tallest flying bird in the world is the sarus crane measuring in at close to six feet tall!
Seeing a crane is a magical experience. They are tall, elegant, poised, regal and delicate all at once. Many crane species fly thousands of miles for their migrations making protecting them more complicated as they traverse human boundaries without passports. The International Crane Foundation was founded in 1973 by two ornithologists who met in graduate school. The foundation still follows it’s original mission of protecting cranes through five specific activities: research, education, ecosystem protection, captive breeding and reintroduction. As you can imagine this is a huge job and requires staff across the globe.
If you want to support such a great cause, donations can be made at the International Crane Foundation’s website. Watch for posts on specific cranes in the near future.