By the first of September, 41-09 was flying! Also, we have started taking all but injured 39-09 out together in the morning as well as the afternoon. Chick 41-09 & 42-09 have been harrassed a little more by the older chicks now that 39-09 isn't able to "protect" his buddies.
October weather brought sun, wind, rain and snow. The chicks seemed to enjoy testing their wings in the winds. Several days they birds made flights where they were almost out of view flying both to the north and south of their pen site. A couple of times they were out of view for a period of time, and someof the flew over to visit the ultralight chicks in their pen! We couldn't tell which chicks did that because they didn't get banded until Oct. 13. They are building up their flight strength in these final days or weeks before migration.
The nine DAR cranes were released on the evening of October 24 on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Signals from the radio transmitters on the birds' leg bands will help biologists from ICF and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as they track movements of the released DAR cranes now and throughout their migration. Stay tuned!
Fall 2009: DAR 41-09 was released at ERP on the refuge with DAR 40-09 and 42-09. They roosted together there the first night, but returned to Site 3 the next day and joined DAR 32-09 and 38-09. Other flockmates later joined them. On November 1 all DAR juveniles (except 36-09 and 42-09) flew in undirected flight over Monroe and Juneau Counties for at least 70 minutes before returning to Site 3. Are they getting restless? Will they soon follow older cranes to learn the migration route, as experts hope they will?
They were still on or near the refuge by Nov. 30, in a large group that included DAR 32-09, 34-09, 35-09, 36-09, 37-09, 40-09, and 41-09. They sometimes separated into 2 or 3 small groups for brief periods. They were almost always associating with various other Sandhill and/or Whooping cranes (most particularly #506 and 713.
Notes by Marianne Wellington, ICF. Thank you!
First Migration, Fall 2009: On Dec. 11 it was snowing, but that's when the birds left on migration! When Eva checked that morning, "there was no sign of any of the 11 cranes that had seemed perfectly content roosting on ice and standing in the brisk winter wind for the last week." Those birds were adult pair #307 and 726, two single males (#506 and #713) and seven of this year's nine DAR chicks: 32-09, 34-09, 35-09, 36-09, 37-09, 40-09 and 41-09. It was too snowy for tracking vehicles to head out, but that evening they received satellite PTT readings on two of the four DAR birds with PTTs. They had reached Winnebago County, Illinois! The birds had moved on by the time trackers got there the next day. Eva said, "When we finally got a reading, we were all surprised to see that they had flown east of Indianapolis, Indiana, 240 miles southeast of their last location and right on track with the main migration route for Sandhill Cranes. I arrived at the location and heard all 11 signals coming from the same area. But I could not see them since it was dark outside." The next morning they made a couple of local movements before traveling only 50 miles to the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, near the Indiana/Kentucky Border. In the three days these birds have been on migration, the first ever migration for the seven chicks, they flew a total of 430 miles.
On January 3 these 7 DAR chicks finally moved from Indiana to Tennessee with the 4 adults. They were near the Hiwassee refuge Monday Jan. 4, but later moved a little further south. Three of those adults split off and continued their migration to Florida where I found them yesterday. "Adult male #506 remains with the chicks, and there’s a good likelihood these birds will remain in this area for the rest of the winter, but we’ll just have to wait and see," said tracker Sara. The seven 2009 DAR chicks and #506 were next in Jefferson County, Kentucky. They moved to Adair County, Kentucky on February 12 or 13. They moved to Adair County, Kentucky on February 12 or 13 and stayed until Feb. 28.
Spring 2010: Cranes 506 and youngsters DAR 32-09, 34-09, 35-09, 36-09, 37-09, 40-09 and 41-09 were reported back in Jefferson County, KY on March 1. They migrated from there to Muscatatuck NWR, Jackson County, Indiana, on March 5. They migrated from there to Muscatatuck NWR, Jackson County, Indiana, on March 5. On March 15 or 16 they separated into two groups. Juveniles #34-09, 35-09, 36-09, and 41-09 remained at Muscatatuck NWR at least until April 1 and were detected in Juneau or Adams County (MIGRATION COMPLETE) during an aerial survey on April 5.
Fall 2010: The radio signals of crane # 41-09 (DAR) and #912 were detected at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (Florida) on December 5. Crane #924, who has a weak transmitter, is probably still traveling with them. No further news until March 18, 2011!
Spring 2011: "We don't know where in Florida they wintered," reported tracker Eva. The evening of March 18, 2011, males #912, 924 and 41-09 (DAR) stopped in at the Chass pensite and didn't leave until 20 March. Return date isn't exactly known but he was detected in flight near Necedah NWR on May 16 with female #32-09 (DAR) as they returned from Necedah NWR to the Mill Bluff area of Monroe County, Wisconsin by May 21 and remained there.
Fall 2011: Male 41-09 (DAR) wintered in Jackson County, Indiana with mate #32-09 (DAR).
Spring 2012: Pair 41-09 (DAR) and mate #32-09 were reported back on Necedah NWR on March 16! This new pair was observed sitting on a nesting platform during one flight in May, but were not observed there again. No eggs were ever confirmed so it wasn't a confirmed nest.
Spring 2013: Pair 41-09 (DAR) and mate #32-09 (DAR) were reported back on Necedah NWR on March 27! By mid April they were observed on a nest during Bev Paulan's aerial survey April 16.
Last updated: 4/20/13
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