aviculturalist Sara Zimorski
sends this week's news.
Well it's been an interesting spring filled with lots
of good things and unfortunately some bad ones as well,
but definitely interesting. Here goes:
#309's Nest Lost, Eggs Saved
Unfortunately the one remaining
nest failed since we last reported. On May 3rd, just
a few days before it was due to hatch, two fertile and viable (meaning
still alive) eggs were collected from the nest and brought to
ICF when the nest was abandoned. The eggs looked good and were
old enough that you could see them
move when the brood
call was played for them; this is how we knew they
were still alive. By May 5 one of them was peeping. This means
the chick had gotten into the aircell and was getting closer
to hatching. So on May 6 Kim, one of our newer aviculturists,
both those eggs plus a fertile egg produced at ICF to Patuxent
Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. We hope these 3 eggs will
hatch and become part
of the ultralight-led project this fall. If they make it, those
chicks will get to return to Necedah where two of them came from!
Nesting Chart >>
Sara Zimorski, ICF
you see the pair #309 and #403 moving
through the woods? They shook their heads and rubbed their heads
on their backs, showing signs of discomfort from the pesty black
flies that drove them off their nest for good, just a few days
before the eggs were due to hatch. But there's good news about
their rescued eggs.
#309: A Special Connection
really disappointing to have the last nest (#309 and #403's) fail,
I sort of expected it given what's happened to the other nests
this year and for the past several years. I have a special place
heart for #309, having caught and relocated her 3 separate times
effort to get her to migrate correctly to Wisconsin (scroll down her
bio page for those stories). I was excited she and her mate
were able to continue sitting after
(now almost two weeks ago). Last year when they abandoned their
nest we found evidence that their egg or eggs had been fertile
so as it
got closer and closer to when those eggs should hatch and they
were still sitting I couldn't help but get excited thinking they
going to do the seemingly impossible and hatch their own eggs.
disappointing as the nest failures are, I do think we've learned
a lot this spring and I think we're much closer to understanding
why the birds abandon their nests.
Good News! Mystery Bird
Yesterday Eva was able to confirm the identity of the mystery bird
#42-07 DAR has been hanging out with since about mid-April. the
other bird's transmitter didn't work, and the birds
were always far away, only briefly in the air, and always landed
out of sight so they could never confirm who the second bird
was. When Eva and I flew to check on nests on April 22, we tracked
#42-07 and confirmed her in that big, remote wetland with another
bird but of course from the air we still couldn't identify who
it was. We suspected it was #316, a single male who lives in
the middle of the Sprague wetland at Necedah, where the birds
were seen flying, and whose transmitter has been non-functional
for several years. There just wasn't really anyone else it could
be, but then again these birds have surprised us before.
#42-07 moved off the refuge to a private cranberry farm that
some of the birds, including #316, use during the summer and fall.
Eva contacted the landowners who had been seeing the two birds and
when they called her back yesterday to tell her she could come on
to the farm they told her the birds were standing in one of the cranberry
beds. This gave Eva a perfect view to observe the birds from a distance
and read the color bands on the mystery bird. Eva called to say it
was indeed #316! We're
all excited to have this mystery solved. Also, this is
the first time #316 has been confirmed since he was on a migration
stop in IN in early March. We're also excited for #316 to have
a new mate. He lost his
mate (#312) two years ago after #311 lost his mate and proceeded
woo/steal #312 away from him.
and DAR #42-07
and DAR #46-07
(observed building nest)
(observed building nest)
and DAR #39-07 (built
Many New Pairs
Perhaps what's most exciting is the number of new pairs that formed
spring. They mostly consist of 2-year-old females and older
males. We don't know if these new pairs will last, but
it's a good sign. And it's a
good start for these 2-year-old females to be pairing already.
these pairs stay together it could be a very good sign for next
For example, last year W601 was
just 2 years old but she paired with #310 and they built a nest.
This year as a 3-year-old W601 produced an egg— a
good step even though the pair quickly abandoned their nest and the
egg was destroyed.
First-time Pairing for Three DAR Females!
other exciting news is these pairs contain 3 DAR females — the
first DAR birds to show signs of pairing! We're very excited about
A Mate for #216!
Additionally, some of us who have followed these birds for a long
time are particularly excited to see #216 finally get a mate.
He has been single ever since he broke his leg in spring of 2006.
He had been paired but the pair broke up during spring migration
in MN when he became injured and by the time he made it back to
Necedah his mate had found a new mate. Even though he tried he
couldn't get her or his territory back. His leg healed and he looks
perfectly normal except that the leg that was broken dangles a
little bit when he flies. He has tried to find a new mate and never
been successful, so we're glad he found #716 and we hope the
Update on the Class of 2008
The 15 remaining 2008 birds (see losses) are in the midst of spring
wandering so that's keeping Eva and Jess very busy.
Most of them are just moving around in WI but as we mentioned
last week #19-08 traveled all the way to ND. This week he was
in Minnesota, and we hope maybe he's on his way back to Necedah.
Birds of 2009 Hatching
Just as the 2008 birds (hopefully) begin to settle
down, things will get
busy for us at ICF with the 2009 birds hatching.
Chicks are already
hatching at Patuxent for the ultralight part of the reintroduction
project. It will be a few more weeks before we start hatching any
chicks for the DAR part of the project. The captive birds at ICF
start laying eggs later than the birds at Patuxent and the other
breeding centers, so we haven't gotten that many eggs from our
ICF birds yet. We did have one early fertile egg, which we sent
to Patuxent. We have one other fertile egg at ICF right
now and three others that are still too young to know
if they're fertile or not. Time will fly by and before
we know it we'll have chicks!
And. . .
I hope all of you have a wonderful summer and remember
to check back in with Journey North in the fall
to see what's happening with the Whooping cranes then. Until
the fall, take care.