Class of 2008 in Florida
Feb. 13, 2009
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Chassahowitzka NWR
The seven juveniles at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge were released on February 3 from the top-netted pen where they had been housed during the health exams. All seven birds are doing
great. Sara says, "They spend a lot of time eating, foraging, and resting. They leave the pen occasionally but roost in it every night, which is what we want. Richard saw one of them catch a crab. Two others ate it after he helped smash it up. The other day I saw two different birds catch and eat tiny crabs. The chicks take short flights over and around the pen and the island, but there's not too much excitement going on. They have settled in really well and are a great bunch of birds."

The "Chass 7" arrived at their winter site Jan. 23. How long have they been there? When will they leave? We will wait and see!


ICF aviculturalist Sara and tracker Eva are winter monitors for the 7 young cranes at the flock's Chassahowitzka NWR winter home in Florida.

St. Marks NWR
All seven juveniles are behaving well and doing just fine after arriving January 17 and having health checks/banding on January 25. After their release Jan. 28, they left their 3-acre open pen only to fly short circuits before returning. Lately they've been flying out, visiting nearby ponds, exploring their surroundings, and foraging for food.

Brooke and Bev stocked live shrimp in a shallow end of one of the ponds within the open pen enclosure. They've been putting live crabs in another area. They eat tiny fish that live in their ponds and the crane chow that is still provided in feeders.

The birds defend their territory from other wildlife on the refuge. They chased off a vulture while still in the air, drove out Wood storks that landed in their enclosure. But they peacefully share it with visiting Anhingas (small birds that can stay submerged for long periods of time).

Not so welcome are the wild pigs that make the refuge their home. So far, trapping and relocating any potential wildlife threat is working. The refuge workers are doing a splendid job, and the cranes are content on their new wintering grounds. How long will they stay? We shall see!

Photo Mark Chenoweth,
Whooper Happenings

Operation Migration's Brooke and Bev are winter monitors for the 7 young cranes in the flock's first year using St. Marks NWR in Florida.

Photo Vickie Henderson
Looking for tasty morsels