It is with great sadness that I write this note, instead of the
usual excitement and happiness I normally feel when I talk about
the birds and this project. As you all know by now 17 of the 18
year 2006 ultralight chicks died during the terrible storms that
hit FL earlier this month. Everyone has been very sad about the
death of the birds, both those of us who work with them and tons
of folks like you who support the project and learn to love the
birds along with us. The news was shocking and difficult to believe
and many of us have cried over the loss of these birds. They were
a great group of birds, genetically diverse and special in their
own individual ways. We will miss them as I'm sure you all will.
Nicknames and Aggression!
I've been thinking about the birds a lot recently and remembering
specific things about each of them. For example when I was painting
the temporary radio transmitters for #613
both were both supposed to be white. I thought we needed to be able
to easily tell them apart, so I painted black spots on #613's radio.
We called her the Holstein bird since her transmitter looked like
a black and white Holstein cow, though some disagreed and said it
looked more like a Dalmatian.
memory was from a day after the birds arrived in FL and we took
them out of the holding pen so they could fly around and get some
exercise. Chick #607
kept challenging me, but the rule is we always need to be dominant
so I didn't back down. Unfortunately he wouldn't back down either;
he jump-raked me, hitting his feet on my helmet. He didn't hurt
me — just surprised me — but I sure was glad to be
wearing a helmet and not a soft baseball hat style hood.
of course special since she was the first chick to come from parents
we released in previous years. Unfortunately, her parents were inexperienced
and abandoned their eggs, but we collected
them and sent them to
Patuxentwhere she hatched and became part
of the ultralight flock.
was the first bird to come from the Audubon Species Survival Center
in New Orleans and also for the first time the Calgary Zoo produced
6 chicks in the flock.
#620 chats through the fence with #105.
Photo Bev Paulan for Operation
Ahead with Hope!
of the birds were special and we'll never forget any of them. Their
deaths are a setback for our project, but we will continue and we
need your support to move forward. We are grateful and thrilled
managed to escape from the pen and survive the storm. We're equally
thrilled that there are still 3 DAR chicks plus our first ever-wild
hatched chick still alive and representing the year 2006. The breeding
season will soon be starting at Patuxent and the other captive facilities
and we're all looking forward to a great year with lots of chicks
hatching and being released in 2007.
Take care and stay tuned!
be tracking #615 on his first journey north!
Sara Zimorski, ICF