St. Marks NWR
are waiting for that little signal. The signal from the
chicks that they are ready to be on their own, ready to
"fly the coop" and head north.
"We wait. And watch. And scrutinize every movement, every
behavior. Are they flying more? Are they eating more?
the morning, when they are not in the pen, I breathlessly
grab the receiver to listen to the chicks’ transmitter
frequencies to find out if I can hear them. So far, every
morning we have. But a morning will come when we won’t
hear anything but silence. That is what we are waiting for.
. .When the length of the day is coupled with the correct
weather system and winds, they will go. But how long does
the day have to be? Are they waiting for the backside of
a high pressure system, or the
front side of a low? Will the winds come from the southeast,
the southwest, or straight out of the south?
"Only the birds know exactly. So I wait. Wait for that morning
when they will not be seen or heard. After that, I can
wait once more for new chicks to hatch."
—Adapted from Bev Paulan's Operation
Migration Field Journal, March 18, 2009
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,
Photo Bev Paulan, Operation Migration
how long they've lived together and how much space they have
in the 4-acre,
open-topped pen they sometimes still pick on each other," reports
What do you think the cranes would say in each of Sara's
Photos Sara Zimorski, ICF
Thinking about poking...
After the poke.
Sara Reports: What
a week! On March 17 we had 21 older cranes confirmed on migration,
and 6 who are not on their wintering
on migration. On March 7 or 8, DAR #28-05 was the first bird to complete
19) I discovered that 11 more cranes had arrived
Even though these older birds have started or even
completed spring migration, we don’t expect the
ultralight juveniles to leave until the end of March
or early April. Every year the
ultralight birds at Chassahowitzka have left within a two
week window (last week of March, first week of April)
when they arrive in FL and how long or short their stay at
the winter pen is. The timing of their departure seems
to be tied in
to when the wild flock of whoopers normally leave Aransas.
Now we expect this will be true of the juveniles wintering
at St. Marks,
but we don’t know for sure — so we’ll certainly
be watching them and be curious to find out when they
future years the bird in the Class of 2008 will leave Florida
earlier. Some will leave early with sandhills and others will
back to their established territories at Necedah. But I
fully understand why the younger, unpaired, non-breeding
birds don’t wait longer before heading back. Some
things about these birds are a mystery and will probably
cranes have been little angels at bedtime recently. Most nights
they are all standing on the human-made oyster-shell bar, preening
well before the sun is completely set. The time we spend with
them in costume is very minimal now, and usually only consists
of us checking the food level in their feeders every couple of
nights. It's always kind of a sad time when we are not able to
interact with them, but it's for their benefit, and there's always
is packed up and ready to migrate at anytime, but she
restlessness in the youngest birds.