The World in Wisconsin

Wattled Crane
Since Noah built and filled the Ark; I'm pretty sure it's been rare indeed for every species on this planet to be seen in one place.

One for sure, is the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Hatched by two students at Cornell University in 1971; Ron Sauey and George Archibald developed it on land owned by the Sauey family outside Baraboo.

All these years later, the Foundation represents the world's best efforts to preserve and grow some of the planet's most elegant winged creatures.

Cranes are highly regarded in many countries for their beauty and their lives.  Long-lived birds who mate for life with elaborate and creative dances; they are highly regarded yet in danger.  11 of the 15 species face extinction.

Black Necked Crane
Saving the birds means saving habitat.  In some cases, it requires demonstrating to local people how preserving the species enhances their lives.

My son and I made the trip to the International Crane Foundation this weekend.

Just an hour north of Madison, it's filled out nicely since it's early beginnings on the former horse farm.

The visit started on the right foot when the person welcoming us pointed out I could get a membership and free future admission for a year for myself and 3 guests for not much more than the cost of 2 adult one day tickets.  Sold!

The Wattled Crane (above right) was the first bird to greet us in the Spirit of Africa exhibit.  It regally posed for a couple of shots, but most of the time busied itself searching the water for food and dealing with a pesky Red-Winged Blackbird (black blur in photo).

Eurasian Crane
The Black Necked, Eurasian, and Siberian cranes seemed to appreciate the company and attention; walking up to the fence from the back of their home to  show off for us.

Cranes range from 3 feet to 6 feet tall with wing-spans eclipsing 7 feet.

It's an incredible feeling to be just a few feet from these majestic birds.  One of the species housed here, the Sandhill Crane enjoys a fairly good size population in the upper midwest.  I love watching them fly with little apparent effort as their large wings move them quickly and gracefully through the sky.

Siberian Crane
The birds on display remind each of us why these birds deserve our attention and our help.  While on a hill a short flight away is home to Crane City.

It's where the real work is done here.  The "crane-dominiums" house birds counted on to continue the species while scientists and researchers, in concert with dozens of others around the world do the day to day work to rebuild their flocks.

It's still a long migration flight from its destination, but a most worthwhile effort - one which will benefit all of us.