2020 Celebration of Cranes

Our 3rd annual Celebration of Cranes again features speakers – but like so many others, we are online this year. This free event features presentations followed by live Q&A with a distinguished panel of speakers. (Questions can be emailed to cinraney@ksu.edu).    We have related articles, links, and history that you can explore at any time. There are also activities for the family and instructions on how to make an origami crane! 

Mark your calendar and note the date/times of our five live streaming sessions. Don’t miss any of them. Each addresses a different aspect of cranes, wetlands, and Quivira. And when you visit Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (or any wetland), you will have a greater understanding and appreciation of this natural wonder here in Kansas!


Nov. 4, 2020 - 7pm - [ Click Here for Live Stream ]
“Overview of Quivira”
Mike Oldham
Wildlife Refuge Manager
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

I grew up in northeastern New Mexico, and began working toward my Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife & Habitat Management at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in 1988.  Fortunately for me, a program in “Wildlife Techniques” was being presented at one of my classes by a Wildlife Biologist from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, and that was all the incentive I needed to get my career going.  I worked the following two summers volunteering at Bosque del Apache NWR learning wetland management, conducting surveys, and working toward gaining any experience that was thrown my way.  I graduated in May, 1993 from NMSU and was hired as a Biological Technician following graduation.  I spent my first nine years at Bosque del Apache gaining management experience in wetland habitat, invasive species control, cooperative farming, safety, wildland firefighting, and law enforcement.  The next twenty years with the FWS continued in other states as Wildlife Refuge Specialist at Deep Fork NWR in eastern Oklahoma, Wildlife Refuge Manager at Cibola NWR in southwest Arizona, and as Wildlife Refuge Manager at Quivira NWR in central Kansas.    

Nov. 5, 2020 - 7pm - [ LiveStream Link Coming Soon ]
“Shorebirds and Wetlands”
Rob Penner
Avian Conservation Manager,
Nature Conservancy

I spent sixteen years as a Wildlife Biologist for the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission before coming to Kansas.  I currently serve as the Avian Conservation Manager for the Nature Conservancy. I oversee the management of the Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve, a site of hemispheric importance to shorebirds, and as such our management is geared toward providing stop-over habitat for migrating shorebirds and as nesting habitat for grassland birds.  I also oversee avian monitoring projects on some of our conservation priority landscapes in Kansas, which includes the International Shorebird Survey at Cheyenne Bottoms and serving as the state coordinator for the International Shorebird Survey.  I have authored two books, the first entitled “The Birds of Cheyenne Bottoms” and the second book is an electronic book entitled “The Shorebirds of Cheyenne Bottoms”.   I currently serve as the Chair of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network-USA Committee and serve as a counselor on the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network Hemispheric Council and I am also on the US Shorebird Conservation Plan Partnership. In early October we will be installing Motus Wildlife Tracking Towers at Cheyenne Bottoms and this will be part of the Kansas Shorebird Radio Telemetry Project.  Next spring, I will be assisting a PhD student from Missouri who will be putting GPS transmitters on American Avocets and I also have a master’s degree student that is conducting research on the effects of our various grazing treatments on avian use and nesting success.  I am also on the steering committee working on the development of the Midcontinent Shorebird Conservation Initiative.

Nov. 6, 2020 - 7pm - [ LiveStream Link Coming Soon ]
“Sandhill Cranes: Living on the edge of winter"
David Rintoul
Retired Professor/Researcher
Kansas State University

I am a native of the state of Kansas, born in Garden City in 1950, where I lived for the first 18 years of my life. My interests in the natural world and in photography date from those early years, and my career plans, though vague, always centered on the study of biology. I was awarded a Summerfield Scholarship to attend the University of Kansas (Lawrence KS), where I majored in Biology. 

From that point on, my academic pathway was unremarkably straightforward. After earning a BA in Biology from the University of Kansas in 1972, a Ph.D. in Biology from Stanford University (Stanford CA) in 1977, and a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in Biochemistry at Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis MO), I  joined the Division of Biology at Kansas State University (Manhattan KS) in 1980. I served the university as a teacher & researcher, as an administrator, and as Faculty Senate President. During that time I continued to learn about the natural world and about photography of the natural world.

Upon entering retirement, I decided to continue to work on these photographic and biological interests, and also to continue to learn as well as educate via photographic images. Since retirement, I have had work exhibited at two art galleries in Manhattan KS, and I have published three works of nonfiction (linked via the buttons below) that make use of photographic images to drive and enhance the narrative.


Nov. 7, 2020 - 11am - [ LiveStream Link Coming Soon ]
“Whooping Cranes”
Liz Smith
International Crane Foundation
Director of North America Programs

Whooping Cranes are the rarest species of crane in the world, declining to only 16 birds in 1941 in North America. One of the first species registered on the Endangered Species List in 1972, their numbers have increased to over 500 in the last naturally wild population. These cranes migrate 2500 miles each spring and fall between Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada, and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas. Their narrow migration corridor is less than 200 miles wide and encompasses three Provinces and six states through North America. To develop conservation recovery strategies in the migration corridor, many key questions should be addressed: how long does migration take, where do they stop each night, how many fly together, what are the hazards and challenges. Join us as we “migrate” with the Whooping Cranes and discover how we can help ensure that this iconic species continues to recover.

Dr. Liz Smith is a native Texan and received her B.S. and M.S. degrees at Corpus Christi State University and Ph.D. at Texas A&M University in the biological sciences. Dr. Smith served as a Research Scientist at the Center for Coastal Studies, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi for 17 years, prior to joining the International Crane Foundation (ICF) in 2011. She developed the Texas Whooping Crane Program with the goal to increase our involvement in applied research and stakeholder leadership in Texas and now serves as North America Program Director and Texas Program leader. Whooping Crane relies on large expanses of quality coastal habitat each winter within an around Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The continued protection efforts by all our partners along Texas coast plays an integral role in the recovery of this federally endangered species.

Nov. 7, 2020 - 2:30pm - [ LiveStream Link Coming Soon ]
Rex Buchanan
Director Emeritus of the 
Kansas Geological Survey

with Burke W. Griggs,
Associate Professor Law
Washburn University

Rex Buchanan is a native of Rice County, Kansas, and the Director Emeritus of the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas.  He served at the Survey from 1978 to 2016 in various roles, the last six as director.  He was the editor of Kansas Geology: An Introduction to Landscapes, Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils (1984); co-author of Roadside Kansas: A Travelers’ Guide to Its Geology and Landmarks (1987); and co-author of Petroglyphs of the Kansas Smoky Hills (2019), all published by the University Press of Kansas, and co-author of The Canyon Revisited: A Rephotography of the Grand Canyon, 1923-1991 (1994), published by the University of Utah Press.  He delivers occasional commentaries for Kansas Public Radio.  He has an undergraduate degree from Kansas Wesleyan University and graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Quivira National Wildlife refuge was established in 1955 as a 22,000-acre series of salt marshes that provide habitat for a range of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, and particularly for whooping cranes.  In 1957, the refuge claimed water rights of over 14,000 acre-feet per year from the Rattlesnake Creek basin that feeds into Quivira.  In the 1990s, reduced flows into Quivira led to concerns about those water rights, leading to decades of conversation about the appropriate way to satisfy Quivira’s water rights.  This presentation focuses on the geology and hydrology of Quivira and provides background about the ongoing legal struggle competition for water between wildlife and upstream irrigators.


Burke W. Griggs, associate professor of law at Washburn University School of Law, is a fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and an affiliated scholar at the Bill Lane Center for the American West, both at Stanford University. He has published photography in guidebooks for the western United States, including David T. Page’s Yosemite and the Southern Sierra Nevada

B.A., Stanford University
M.A., Yale University
M.Phil., Yale University
Ph.D., Yale University
J.D., University of Kansas

Additional Resources

Copyright © 2020 Audubon of Kansas
Website designed & hosted by Outdoor Resources, LLC