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Crane Cam!
By Joe Duff, Operation Migration


Because we are trying to keep our birds wild, no one is allowed to see them up close except the pilots, a few handlers, and (once in a while) a veterinarian. Even those people have to wear costumes and not talk.

Thanks to money from Duke Energy, we now have a camera that we can set up near the pen. It takes video that can be sent to our website using the same signal that a cell phone uses.

A Problem Solved
The problem has always been that we don't have any electrical power out where the birds are kept. In fact, the nearest plug is two miles away — too far to run an extension cord! Here's how our new camera solves this problem:

  • The camera is built into a trailer that has enough big batteries to last 21 days without being recharged.
  • The camera has a tower that we can raise 30 feet in the air and get the camera up very high so it can see better.

Keeping Watch from Up High
On April 28 we set up the new camera at Necedah NWR to watch the last remaining nest of the season. This pair of birds will hatch their eggs on May 5th if they stay on the nest. After all the other nests failed, it's very important that we keep a close eye on this one to see what we may learn. Thanks to this new camera, we can see the birds by turning on the computer in our office in Canada!

About the Camera
The camera is very complicated. It has a computer onboard along with a lot of other technical stuff. Heather Ray from Operation Migration will be looking after it.

Power wheels will allow us to remotely drive the camera trailer into position without a truck (so as not to disturb the birds).

You Can Watch the Cranes!
Once we get the camera working properly, we hope to put it on our website so people can see the birds up close for the very first time. It is very expensive to send a video over the cell phone signal. It’s like talking long distance all day. That's why viewers will be able to watch the video live a limited amount of time each day. During the rest of the time you will be able to watch videos of the birds that were taken earlier.

We are hoping to get the camer ready in time for the "flight school" training this summer. Then you could watch the new chicks running up and down the runway after the aircraft.

We hope you like our new camera. We are very thankful to Duke Energy for funding it.

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

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