Class of 2008 in Florida

Feb. 27, 2009
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St. Marks NWR
Brooke and Bev do bedtime round up at St. Marks.

This week the chicks made their first interactive 'Whooping calls' and it was impressive! The birds are busy being "teenagers" and they're lucky to have understanding "parents." Even when they are all fired-up and rambunctious, Bev can usually calm them down and get them to rest in the oyster bed area of their pen when it's roost time at night. But, probably like YOU do, sometimes they just don't want to go to bed.

Bev and Swamp Monster have mischief stories this week. The stories first appeared in Bev and Brooke's field journal entries on the Operation Migration Web site.

Bev's Bedtime Hassle: Listening for the "Harley Leg" >>
Swamp Monster's Bedtime Story
Photo Mark Chenoweth

Operation Migration's Brooke and Bev are winter monitors for the 7 young cranes in the flock's first year at the release site at St. Marks NWR in Florida: #829, 812, 826, 805, 830, 813, 828

Chassahowitzka NWR

"The Chass birds have been released for 3 weeks
now," writes Sara. "The first week was great and the third week was great, but the second week was not! It's because we had several nights of higher water than the birds had ever experienced and their reaction was to fly out of the pen at roost time (bedtime). unfortunately the places where they landed and wanted to roost were not suitab

le or safe for roosting. We had to get the birds back in the pen — and that made for some long nights! Luckily every morning the birds were once again really cute and responsive to the costume (us), so all was forgiven and now a distant memory.

"The birds are definitely changing. Every day they look whiter. They're also getting their red patches [on the head] and adult voices. Chick #814 arrived with an adult voice and #803 and 804 were starting to change. Now #818 and 824 have their adult voices. We're just waiting on #819 and 827. When the birds see something or when one takes off and the rest of them call, we hear a funny mix of chick peeping, adult alarm calls, and some croaking, cracking, in-between voices!

"Another change just in the last few days is that #814 has become a social outcast. He is getting chased and picked on by the other birds. . . It's really sad to see, and when we're out there we try to defend him but we have to be careful that the extra attention we direct towards him doesn't then attract the other birds towards him — resulting in more chasing and attacking. Last night as the birds were settling down to roost #814 walked around to the back shore of the pen. Then, for at least 5 minutes, he jumped and danced by himself. . . I was glad that he'd gone to the back side of the pen away from the other birds, because his activity would have surely caused them to start picking on him. He's always been a bird who jumps and dances around a lot so I was glad to see him still doing this, but really glad he had the sense to do this away from the other birds."

Photo Sara Zimorski
Do you see all 7? (Click)

ICF aviculturalist Sara and tracker Eva are winter monitors for the 7 young cranes at the flock's winter release site at Chassahowitzka NWR in Florida: 803, 804, 814, 818, 819, 824, and 827.

Photo Sara Zimorski

With the red on his head, crane #804 is looking more like an adult. Birds #803 and 818 have some red on their head and #819 just has the tiniest bit of red, while #814, 824, & 827 don't have any red yet.