Class of 2010 in Florida: Two Groups
Feb. 11, 2011
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Chassahowitzka NWR
On January 15th, 2011, the Chass Five chicks (3-10, 9-10, 15-10, 16-10 and 17-10) arrived at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge release pen. On January 18 they were set free. A layer of fog blanketed the pen area as we opened the gate that separated the chicks from their freedom. Out they came, stretching their wings and looking around. Then they took to the air, flying through the fog in circles around the pen site, and then landing to investigate their new habitat.

Since release, we have been checking on the chicks two times a day. Once in the morning, to make sure everybody looks alright and that they have a sufficient supply of food, and once at night to make sure they are roosting in a safe location. All the chicks are doing very well. I would say they are the best behaved, but it tries my patience when they don't want to go in the pen to roost at night!

Usually we only spend about 10-15 minutes (in costume) with the chicks per day. We reduce the amount of "costume time" so that they become more independent, and also so the chances of them realizing that we are actually people are reduced.

The two oldest chicks (#3 and #9) still have their chick voices, while the 3 youngest chicks now have their adult voices!

ICF tracking field Manager Eva is with the Chass Five.


Photo Eva Szyszkoski. ICF

St. Marks NWR
The St. Marks five (#1-10, 5-10, 6-10, 8-10, and 10-10) arrived at their wintering site on Dec. 15, 2010. They were released on December 25, free to come and go from a fenced enclosure with no top net. All birds are just fine, and older cranes #925 and #929 are still there, too. These two yearlings are being allowed to stay with the chicks since they were getting harassed by the other four older cranes that they had arrived with. The two "white birds" cause no trouble for the Class of 2010 youngsters — but sometimes they hog the feeding stations instead of finding their own food! Click on the photo below to see how handler Christine describes bedtime for the crane-kids:
Photo Operation Migration
(Click for story)


Photo Mark Chenoweth

Operation Migration's Brooke Pennypacker leads the winter team that is monitoring the five young cranes at St. Marks NWR, with help from Christine.

Click the St. Marks crane cam to visit the wintering crane-kids! (NOTE: The feed is not a streaming, continuous feed. Instead, the image refreshes every few seconds. It is best viewed with Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. Internet Explorer does not behave properly.)