After collecting records for more than ten years we can use them to make a few predictions. On average, our Whooping cranes have been 47.8 days old when they are transported from Patuxent to Wisconsin. Based on the first hatch date this year of May 14, we can expect to airlift them in early July, although that target may change if our last bird hatch date is delayed.
Prior to their arrival, the site must be prepared. The top net on the pen will need positioning and the electric fencer reinstalled. The grass on the runway will have to be cut and we might have to bring in a roller to smooth out the clump grasses that seem to grow in the sandy conditions.
White River Marsh State Wildlife Area has constructed a much better observation blind this year. It will accommodate more guests and have a better sight line. Closer to the date, we will post contact information so you can book your visit to watch the training and meet the crew.
Once the cranes have been accommodated, we will have to set up our camp and relocate all of our trailers and motorhomes. Then we will have to unpack our aircraft and have them passed by an FAA approved inspector.
The other big item on the list is to set up the camera. Mike Deline of Adoni Networks has been reconditioning all the components. Each year he checks new technology to see how we can improve the experience for our audience. This season we are adding a new camera with infrared capabilities, which will allow us and viewers to spy on the cranes in the dark and we’re looking into ways to add a radio link so the pilot or the ground crew can provide a live commentary of the early morning training.
The more we can improve the broadcast, the more people we hope to attract. Wouldn’t it be fun to have multiple cameras and a method of switching back and forth? This way we could create an online, real time reality show featuring Whooping cranes, something that has never been done before.