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Sentinel at the Pen March 1, 2015

Adult male #4-12 spent his first winter at the same pen the Class of 2014 now calls home. He came back this winter to guard "his" crane chicks—and to try for free food at their feeders! He chases off all other adult crane visitors who dare show up. However, the team members monitoring the cranes in their first winter of freedom take care to keep the cranes safe without #4-12's help. They call the seven youngsters to roost each evening with the crane call on a loudspeaker. The young birds have learned to roost safely at night on the pen's oyster bar. This human-built area inside the enclosure is a huge pile of oyster shells where the birds can stand and sleep in shallower water. They will hear the splashes of any nighttime predators in time to escape. Electric fencing is turned on at night against land predators. The birds spend all day foraging and building up fat as spring migration nears. For many adult cranes, March is the month to journey north again. But when will the youngsters head north? Will they find their way back? Stay tuned for news!

Crane #4-12 in St. Marks pen with Class of 2014 chicks.
Colleen Reidy-Chase