and Maverick Cranes Put in Pens for Their Safety
By BARBARA BEHRENDT
Published February 13, 2007
© Copyright 2002-2007, St.
CRYSTAL RIVER - Two whooping cranes that have received a lot of
attention in recent days - one for courting a captive crane
in a Homosassa park
and the other for escaping a sure death in horrible storms - are now
The birds known as 105 the Romeo and 615 (the death-cheater) are in
separated, top-netted pens at the Halpata Tastanaki Preserve in Marion
Officials involved with the whooping crane reintroduction project are
trying to figure out what to do with these birds.
Bird 105 was retrieved Feb. 1 from the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State
Park, where it visited a captive crane, Peepers, on at least two occasions.
Some figured the bird was looking for a new mate since its former partner
had been found dead in Hernando County several weeks ago.
Others surmised that 105 was in the pen to share in Peepers' free lunch.
The wild bird was one of the cranes to make the first year's flight
from Wisconsin to Central Florida in 2001.
The hope was that the bird would lose interest in the captive female
once it was kept away a while.
Crane 615 is the sole survivor of the Class of 2006. The other 17 birds
that made the 1,200-mile flight behind ultralight aircraft from Wisconsin
to Central Florida in December all drowned in the surge produced during
the strong storms that hit the area overnight Feb. 1 and 2.
No one knows how 615 escaped the top-netted pen that night. But since
that time, it has been actively flying over east Citrus, as far north
as Gilchrist County and even back to the Halpata pen site,
which was the temporary stop at the end of this year's migration before
the Class of 2006 was led to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge.
The hope had been to manage 615 as a wild crane and allow it to stay
free, but its habits concerned keepers still reeling from their loss
of the rest of last year's flock.
Officials were worried about 615 spending nights at Halpata, which
is largely dry habitat. The cranes are taught to roost in water to
them from predators. Staying in dry areas at night leaves them open
The agencies that make up the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership were
discussing their options late Monday, hoping to decide what is best
for the two birds.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at 564-3621 or <a href="mailto:email@example.com.</p>">firstname.lastname@example.org.</a>