“It’s a man’s world,” the guys used to announce with such a triumphant and grandiose tone of certainty that you knew it was just another load of crap. “And a woman’s place is in the home,” which of course it was until she got dressed and left for work. As for the first statement, that went out the window when I met my first girlfriend and learned the two most important words in the English language, which through time and millennia have insured that the world continues to spin in the proper direction… “Yes Dear.”
Today, our chick world went from “Who’s your daddy!” to “Your Mama!” when the gender of the crane chicks were posted on the Chick Building wall. One male and six females! “General Custer, Sir. We’re surrounded!” Talk about shock! And the biggest shock to me was that the lone male was little… and I do mean little… #4-14; who I named “Peanut” the first moment I saw him. I swear he’s a mouse disguised as a crane chick! Even the ferocious devil incarnate itself, #5-14, who has since been reassigned to the Louisiana Project and who I had named after Charlie Manson turned out to be Charlotte Manson. Will somebody please remind me to stay out of Singles Bars!
But seriously, this is a gift and a truly wonderful surprise and it takes some of the sting and disappointment out of having so few birds this year. The fact is, though despite everyone’s well meaning efforts, we have fewer birds in the WCEP population now than we did five years ago, and unfortunately, we have more males than females. This spring we’ve lost a couple to natural causes, while our St. Marks female #1-13 and her cohort mate #3-13 were killed when they struck power lines on the return trip from Florida. We have probably lost more than these, but I can’t think of them off hand. Point is, we lose a lot of females.
Now, we may not yet know which came first, the chicken or the egg, but we are absolutely sure that we cannot achieve our ever more elusive goal of a self-sustaining population of whooping cranes without a healthy population of breeding females. So while I am in the front of the trailer doing my very best impersonation of a “Man with injured back doing a Happy Dance,” Geoff is in the back reprogramming the vocalizers. From now on when we hit the button to get the birds to follow us, those magic words will ring out loud and crystal clear over the surrounding landscape — “Yes Dear!”