Sometimes looking for a Whooping Crane is like looking for a needle in a haystack: the eastern US is enormous, Wisconsin is huge, and when you lose a bird's signal as it lands for the night even a small area where you know the bird has to be, can seem large. The ICF/USFWS tracking team is small and obviously can't be everywhere there's a Whooping Crane. This is especially true during spring and fall migration when birds are spread from Wisconsin to Florida. We always work with local, state, and federal employees as well as local landowners to help us with observations when birds are in their area — and we're not. We are grateful to everyone who reports sightings of Whooping Cranes, to everyone who monitors the birds and sends updates to us, and to everyone who gives us access to their property so we can check on the birds. This is a story about three of those important people and a missing crane.
Paul and Betty (and their neighbors) are private citizens who own a farm where the group of six DAR birds landed March 21 on their first journey north. Shortly after the birds arrived, Paul and Betty discovered that #43-07 had died after hitting a power line. The remaining five DAR birds in the group remained on Paul and Betty's farm until April 17. Dan met Paul and Betty when he went to their farm to check on the birds for us. I have never met Dan, Paul or Betty but I feel like I know them from our almost daily emails regarding the birds. Their help in monitoring the birds has been invaluable, allowing our tracking interns to follow other birds that were continuing to migrate north while these 5 stayed put.
A New Crane Joins the Five DAR Birds
many options, so Dan
up to the farm after work and figure out who the new bird was.
Late on April 15 I received an email from Dan with the exciting
new bird was #524, a 3-year-old male whose transmitter is
dead and who hadn't been seen since November 2007.
It's very exciting that #524 ended up at the exact same farm as
the 5 DARs since he hadn't been seen in so long, but it's also totally
bizarre. It will be interesting to see what happens next! We
lead the 5 DARs back to Wisconsin. Sometimes it's a much smaller
world than we realize.