NWR— and on the Road!
Whoopee! On March 24, Eva announced: "Four cranes (804, 814, 818 and 819) started migration from the Chass pen today! I lost
the signals of the 4 juveniles in Alabama, but I can tell you that
they are taking a much more westerly route north than older cranes
do, most likely because of the new ultralight migration route on
their journey south with the ultralights.
I may miss most of the higher mountainous terrain as I
twice today I've
come to a river with only a few
places to cross, where I have to pretty much predict which way
the birds will go so I can cross in the appropriate place! Thankfully
I did alright with that today, but I was constantly underestimating
how far west they were actually headed. Anyway, I'm hoping to hear
their signals tomorrow morning [March 25] when they get back in
the air — if they continue migrating."
of March 25, the 3 remaining ultralight chicks at Chass, the
St. Marks 7, and
713, 733, 512, and DAR 37-08 ) were the
only flock members still in Florida!
Tracker Eva took off to follow the four Chass juveniles. Rivers
slowed her and she lost them—for now.
aviculturalist Sara and
tracker Eva will
bring migration news.
young cranes played in the wind!
Photo Eva Syzszkoski
of the St. Marks birds had left at this writing, but Bev said they are
and out of the pen and staying out longer. They will likely
stay in place until
weather and wind conditions become favorable.
On March 24 Bev watched from the blind as
ate. "Suddenly all the chicks gathered together
and stared skyward. Soon, a shape appeared and grew larger, circling over the
pen. The shape morphed into a juvenile Bald eagle. All the chicks kept a
watch on the airborne predator.
"A Golden eagle definitely is a threat to the chicks, but a Bald
eagle can take a Sandhill crane, but even at less than a year old, our Whooper
are much larger. It would be unusual for a Bald to take one.
After the eagle flew by, peace returned to the pen only to be interrupted about
half an hour later. This time, two juvenile eagles circled over the pen, descending
as they circled. I could hardly believe my eyes when both of them actually landed
in the pen! I watched breathlessly, not sure what to expect. I should have had
in the young cranes, though. In the blink of an eye they were chasing first
one, then the other eagle out of the pen. The second bird circled back and dive
bombed the pond, in what I came to realize was nothing more than a fishing expedition.
This was not acceptable to the chicks and they all took wing chasing after the
eagle. This time, the eagle flew off not to be seen again.
"Once again peace returned and the chicks resumed preening and foraging.
Another half hour passed and again, a shape appeared in the sky. The chicks
once again gathered together (safety in numbers). This time an
flew over and kept going. The chicks again settled into their routine and
soon were hock sitting, or standing on one leg, exhibiting a relaxed posture.
I am now a little bit more
that they will be okay on their northward migration!"
— Adapted from Bev's March
25 entry in the Operation
Migration Field Journal.
Photo Mark Chenoweth,
Migration's Brooke and Bev are
winter monitors for the 7 young cranes still at St. Marks NWR
Looking up! Even though this juvenile is at Chass and not
St. Marks, do you think it sees an eage overhead?