THE WHOOPING CRANE REPORT: 32
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Matt Horton visits the crane facility to see the old feedsheds. He was looking for a project that would satisfy his Eagle Scout requirement.
These are some of the materials Matt needed to build the 20 sheds. Jerry Persall, a volunteer on the board of the Friends of Patuxent, obtained the funding for the materials through a grant from the Friends.
Matt needed the help of other volunteers to complete this big project. Other scouting friends helped. On the left, Alex Righter lends Matt (center) a hand, as does with Alex's brother, Brian (on the right).
Grant McDaniel, another scout friend of Matt's, helps with roofing. Lucy Grimes, Matt's grandmother in the foreground, lends another hand.
The scouts take a break, sitting on one of the completed sheds. From left to right, Matt, Grant, Andrew Mulhall, and Brian.
The completed sheds stand waiting to be transported to their final destination. They look as good and are as sturdy as if they'd been built by a crew of professional carpenters.
Matt and his family stand in one of the intermediate pens after the new sheds had been installed. On the left in the yellow jacket is is father, Mark Horton, and on the right in the orange jacket is his mother, Lori Horton. His grandparents, Ed and Lucy Grimes are on the far right. In the back of the pen are three sandhill cranes who are some of the beneficiaries of Matt's project.
Ed Grimes and the Horton family.
An Eagle Scout Helps the Cranes
Volunteers have always been a critical part of the crane program, providing services that we might otherwise have to do without. But recently, several volunteers went beyond the norm in helping the crane program solve a long-term problem. The solution directly affected the well-being of the cranes, and helped us provide the high quality animal care we strive for.
Like any other government research facility that uses animals in research, the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center has an Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) that inspects facilities and animals and reviews research study plans to ensure we are in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act. One member of the ACUC must be from outside Patuxent from the local community. It was while serving on the ACUC that volunteer Jerry Persall recognized, during routine inspections, that some of the crane facilities' older feed sheds needed replacing. Budget and staffing constraints had postponed this project for years, but the sheds were now beyond the point where simple repairs and fresh paint could prolong their useful life.
Jerry was also a member of the board of The Friends of Patuxent, a volunteer organization whose purpose is to support the missions and programs of the Patuxent Research Refuge and the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. He discussed our need for new feed sheds with other board members, to see if the Friends could provide the funds for new sheds. Ed Grimes, another volunteer on the board of the Friends, had a grandson, Matt Horton, who was looking for a project to complete his Eagle Scout requirement. Jerry was able to get the funds for the building materials through a grant from the Friends, and Matt agreed to build the sheds for his Eagle Scout project.
Through this combined volunteer effort, the Patuxent crane project received 20 brand new feed sheds to replace old, worn sheds. It was a big project requiring carpentry and roofing skills as well as lots of labor -- over 400 hours of labor. Matt needed the help of many volunteers. Other scouts worked with him, as did adult volunteers including his parents and grandparents, and several friends.
Once the sheds were built, the crane crew dismantled the old sheds and prepared the sites for the new ones. This style of shed, which is shorter than the tall sheds we use in breeding pairs pens, are used in community pens where they are shared by several birds. The shed is a good wind-break and a place for the birds to get out of the weather if they choose, as well as protection for the cranes' food supply.
The volunteers involved with Matt Horton's Eagle Scout project to build 20 new feed sheds were: Susie Ahlfeld, Barbara Buck, Lou Buck, John Carroll, Susan Crawford, Allen Dansie, Ed Grimes, Lucy Grimes, Daniel Hanlan, Hazel Horton, Jackie Horton, Lori Horton, Mark Horton, Matt Horton, Josh Ingeholm, John Ingeholm, Richard Klingner, Malcolm Livingston, Grant McDaniel, Andrew Mulhall, Jay Pape, Ellen Pattin, Jerry Persall, Rick, Potvin, Alex Righter, Bryan Righter, Gwen Robinette, and Sparky Sparks.
Everyone in the crane program at Patuxent is grateful to all the volunteers who helped on this project. Every time we work in the community pens with their brand new, handsome feed sheds we are reminded of their tremendous contribution to the welfare of the cranes.
Photos, Charles Robinson
Photo, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS
Photos, Brian Clauss, USGS
New Feed Sheds for the Yellow Series
The last row of the Yellow Series still had old short feedsheds like this one. This shed lost its roof in the recent hurricane, but most of the old sheds were in similar condition. Many were over 20 years old.
Photo, Kathleen O'Malley, USGS
The Yellow Series houses both greater sandhill cranes and Florida sandhill crane pairs. These breeding pairs are usedboth to incubate whooping crane eggs and to produce sandhill cranes for surrogate research work.
There are three rows of crane pairs in the Yellow Series and until this year, the third row was still waiting for their old style low feed sheds to be replaced with modern, tall sheds. The old sheds were in poor condition, many over 20 years old, and needed replacement. The new sheds make it easier for staff to check feed without entering the pen, and provide good shelter in bad weather.
The pairs were moved out of the pens until the 16 new feed sheds were fully installed, so they wouldn't be disturbed by the heavy equipment and unusual activity.
The Fish and Wildlife Service, our partners on the refuge, helped us by loaning us the heavy equipment we needed to move the sheds, and also gravel and sand for filler.
The crane technicians worked hard on the project, moving the birds themselves, then removing the old sheds, cutting chain link, preparing the site, metal detecting the ground once the sheds were completely installed, and bringing the birds back home.
In addition, volunteers Allan Dansie, Jay Pape, and Charles Robinson helped enormously with the project, giving us many hours of their time and expertise as we installed the new sheds, reattached the chain link, and prepared the pens for the return of the pairs.
Jane and Brian, crane technicians, cut the chain link fence to prepare the pen for the new feed shed.
and Allen fit the cut chain link around the shed doorway and attach it to
Photos, Charles Robinson
This Year's Migration Success!
Regular updates and pictures of this year's ultralight
migration can be found on
Operation Migration's website in their Field
Journal. More updates and information on the WCEP project can be found at:
See our Crane Videos!
Click here to ask questions about Patuxent's whooping crane program. And don't forget to check out our new SITE MAP to learn more about our previously published whooper reports. Please check our site on April 22 for a web page update!Whooping Crane Reports
Hatch Day (Click on numbered links to view all other egg (negative numbers) and chick days).