Class of 2010 in Florida: Challenges
Mar. 11, 2011
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Chassahowitzka NWR

There's never a dull moment with the Chass Five (#3-10, 9-10, 15-10, 16-10 and 17-10).

See #17-10's bio page to find out what problem he had this week. Another challenge we have is adult #827, who showed up at the pen on February 21. Since he was alone, we let him eat from the feeders at first. But we quickly realized that he was not going to ‘integrate’ into our little flock, and none of the chicks were standing up to him! That meant they were not getting any food because #827 was defending the feeders. So we started to hang the feeders up high so he couldn’t eat the pellets. It works, but now we have to go out to the pen in costume twice a day to drop the feeders down and let the chicks eat while we keep #827 away. When the chicks are finished, we hang the feeders back up and leave the pen. Then #827 quickly heads to the food shelter and gobbles up any pellets that the chicks spilled while they were eating! Click the photo (right) for more about #827.

ICF tracking field Manager Eva is with the Chass Five this winter. She will track them back to Wisconsin, too!

How did Eva and her team outwit hungry visitor #827?
Photo Eva Szyszkoski. ICF

St. Marks NWR

Brooke reports that the birds are ramping up their activity level. They are flying more and flying farther. They are eating less out of the feeders, and finding more food in the marsh. They are eating, foraging, flying, and roosting as one unit now. It seems the pre-migration flurry has begun.

Yearlings #925 and #929 are still hanging out with the St. Marks five (#1-10, 5-10, 6-10, 8-10, and 10-10). Bev, who is visiting Brooke there, writes: "Our goal every winter is to merely keep the chicks alive so that they might migrate northward on their own in the spring. We patrol endlessly for predators, or sign thereof. We walk the perimeter fence picking up broken cable ties so one doesn’t get swallowed accidentally by the chicks. We monitor the salinity of the ponds in case they get too salty. If it does, we expect a change in behavior and might provide more fresh water buckets. We keep track of the depth of the ponds, hoping the water on the oyster bar does not get too shallow, sending them out of the safety of the pen to roost.

As we move into March, the worries then move towards the spring migration. I know Brooke worries as much about will they go as when will they go? Will they all go at the same time, or split up like last year?"

We will soon find out!


Photo Mark Chenoweth

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

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.)