One Chosen: The Spirit Of Living Creatures

 by James C. Lewis

Book Review by Chester McConnell, Friends of the Wild Whoopers                                       

One Chosen is an interesting book of fiction about the first experimental project involving a flock of juvenile Whooping Cranes that learned to migrate by following an ultra-light plane. The young Whooping Cranes learned to fly and followed the ultra-light for 800 miles on their first migration from Montana to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.

One Chosen: The Spirit of Living Creatures by James C. Lewis

One Chosen: The Spirit of Living Creatures by James C. Lewis

To write his book, Jim Lewis appears to have transformed himself into a juvenile Whooping Crane to tell their story from their perspective. Notably, while the book is fictional, it is based on scientific facts.

The book begins with Firstborn, the main character, telling the story about himself and other cranes being hatched. Twenty-one additional chicks hatched into Firstborn’s family. From the time they were hatched, the young Whooping Cranes faced numerous problems and lots of happy times. Fortunately, “The Spirit of Living Creatures” guided Firstborn who, in turn, became the wise leader of the flock.

The author describes numerous details about the crane chicks from what they ate, attacks by predators and learning to fly following an ultralight plane called a Dragonfly. Learning to fly following the ultralight was a huge, dangerous challenge for the young birds. Life was not boring for the Whoopers. They learned something new every day. One of the most interesting and complex experiences was how and when the young Whoopers learned that their “Mom” (trainer) was not a Whooping Crane and instead was a man in a costume.

On their 800 mile migration, the young birds faced many challenges that are common to wild migrating Whooping Cranes as well as to the men who lead them. Occasional stormy weather, bitter cold and snow caused some serious problems. And flying over mountains with strong downdrafts was extremely dangerous. While flying behind the ultralight plane the Whooping Cranes faced aerial attacks by eagles and hawks. And when they landed each night they had to be aware of bobcats, coyotes and other predators. Several of the young Whoopers were killed while others became separated from the flock. The men who led the cranes on their migration likewise faced many challenges and dangers and hard work attempting to protect the young birds.

Finally the migrating Whoopers reached their Bosque del Apache Refuge destination. There they had to learn many more things. The refuge had an abundance and variety of new foods. They had to learn to roost in water near sandbars in the Rio Grande and in ponds and marshes within the refuge. Importantly they had to learn to live with many thousands of other birds like sandhill cranes, ducks and geese. The young Whoopers learned well for the most part. Even so, three more were killed. One by a bobcat and two by human hunters in a peanut field adjacent to the refuge.

Finally spring arrived and the remaining whooping cranes began their migration back north to Montana. One major difference was that they migrated on their own, in small groups and stopped to rest at various places. Firstborn and his new mate Raham returned to the Montana valley where their migration began and here the story ends.

Those humans who first conducted the migration experiment were pleased to know that their techniques were successful. Their hope is that what they learned would help assist in keeping whooping cranes from becoming extinct. To purchase a copy of the book, click on the following link:    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1518708242?ref_=cm_rdp_product_img

Reviewers view: The book is based on the first experimental project, where Kent Clegg, uses an ultralight plane to teach pen-reared Whooping Cranes how to migrate. Jim’s book is family oriented and without the violence, sex, monsters, witchcraft and similar trash written for youth today.

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Luseland Museum Unveils Nature Preserve

by Pam Bates

Luseland Museum

Luseland Museum Whooping Crane " Nature Preserve " Exhibit.

Luseland Museum Whooping Crane Exhibit. Photo courtesy of Val Finley. Click photo to enlarge.

Luseland Museum, a museum in Luseland, Saskatchewan has added a preserved whooping crane to its new “nature preserve” exhibit.

Recent generous donations allowed the museum to expand and create the new exhibit, said founding member of the museum, Val Finley.

“We had the good fortune to find a whooper who had died of natural causes,” Finley said.

The whooper, lovingly named Gwenivere, was made into a specimen for the Museum. But the exhibit won’t be the first time the town has witnessed whooping cranes. When the only remaining wild flock was at its peak, the giant white birds stopped in Luseland on their migration between their nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park and their wintering grounds on Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

Luseland

Luseland is a small town with about 600 people located in Saskatchewan, 30 miles East of the Alberta border on Highway 31. It is located within the Central Flyway and back in the 1920’s and earlier, whooping cranes were seen migrating through the area.

Just 2-3 miles southeast of town is Shallow Lake, a slough that the whooping cranes seemed to like. It was primarily a resting place for most birds and reports were that whooping cranes did nest there until their population plummeted due to hunting and habitat loss.

Shallow Lake slough

Because of its early history with whooping cranes, in 2012, the Shallow Lake slough was considered a suitable habitat and possible location to reintroduce the species. Unfortunately, the Federal and Provincial governments decided to sell off the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration or PFRA pastures, in which Shallow Lake is situated, putting the plans on the shelf. But Finley says “since then, it appears the Federal and Provincial governments may be rethinking their actions, so we are keeping our fingers crossed”.

The Nature Preserve Unveiling

Luseland Museum Whooping Crane "Nature Preserve" Exhibit.

Luseland Museum Nature Preserve. Photo courtesy of Val Finley. Click photo to enlarge.

The Luseland museum’s expansion allowed for new exhibits to be displayed, including a nature display, rightfully named the “Nature Preserve”. The purpose of the “Nature Preserve” is for education and creating interest in wildlife. Like many nature exhibits, it displays natural grasses, trees and wildlife such as Canada Geese, Grouse, Hawks, a Fawn, baby antelope and various nests with eggs, just to name a few. All of the specimens were collected by the dedicated and hard working members of the museum and local residents.

But what makes the museum’s exhibit stand out the most is the 5 foot tall endangered crane in their exhibit.

Luseland Museum Whooping Crane " Nature Preserve " Exhibit

Luseland Museum Whooping Crane Exhibit. Photo courtesy of Val Finley. Click photo to enlarge.

“Gwenivere” is our star and we now have people dropping into the Museum and their first question is, “How is Gwenivere today?”, Finley said.

So, next time you are traveling on Highway 31, take some time to stop in Luseland and visit Gwenivere in her own natural habitat at the Luseland Museum.

Besides the wonderful educational, historical and nature exhibits, the people running the museum are friendly and more than happy to answer any questions or show you around. While you are there, tell them that Friends of the Wild Whoopers sent you.

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friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****
Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.