Back to this week's update.

Good Company
Three of the 2011 ultralight-led crane-kids take off February 26 over the other birds that share their winter habitat at Wheeler NWR in Alabama. (Notice the crane-kids' still-tawny heads.) Brooke, who is monitoring them, says: "The Sandhills and DARs will usually fly over to the chicks in the morning, surrounding them in large numbers with playful enthusiasm. The chicks usually barely acknowledge their presence and continue to forage...eventually wandering away as if in need of their alone time." However, the young whoopers have finally started flying out to roost at night with the remaining Sandhill cranes—a good sign of growing independence and good sense before their first solo migration. Safety in numbers!

Courtesy of Bev Paulan

Three Class of 2011 cranes take off among Sandhill cranes in Alabama.