The Boys Are Back in Town…

And they brought reinforcements. Yesterday morning, as Geoff and Doug waited patiently for the fog to clear at White River Marsh, and the CraneCam viewers waited not-so-patiently for the same thing, we were treated to the surreal sound of Whooping cranes calling in the distance.

Looking for white birds in the early morning fog is very much like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack so we all settled for just enjoying their haunting vocalizations. Not long after (yes, we were still on a fog delay), sub-adult Whooping cranes 4-12 & 5-12 came sauntering along the grass training strip from the north. Man, do they have swagger…

They weren’t alone – behind them was the Sandhill crane pair that also frequents the training site. I wondered if they had devised a plan to gang up on the costumes and steal their grapes?

“I’ll create a diversion and get the tall tume to come after me – you jumprake the short one and when he’s down GO FOR THE GRAPES”!

(It’s amazing what goes through your mind while you wait for fog to clear)

Alas, there was nothing that scandalous afoot, although they did take turns strutting past the costumes on several occasions – seemingly baiting them to get aggressive and chase them off. Once Brooke appeared in the aircraft off in the distance, the Nerf balls made their first appearance of the season and the two were chased off (the cranes – not the costumes).

Some of you may be wondering ‘Why Nerf balls’? Try chasing a Whooping crane away while you’re wearing rubber boots. The Nerf balls won’t hurt them should the costumes actually have good throwing arms (they don’t) and it’s an effective way to get them to leave. Now you’re wondering ‘Why do you want them to leave’? Well, mainly because they can be unpredictable – they are wild cranes – and they could become aggressive toward our young cranes, and well that’s a risk we don’t want to take.

Doug Pellerin (one of the costumes that can’t throw a Nerf ball) captured and sent along the following images for your viewing pleasure.

Whooping cranes and Sandhill cranes

4-12 & 5-12 show up for training – with reinforcements.


2 yr. old Whooping crane 5-12 stares down the costume, while 4-12 preens in the background.


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  1. Gay Spencer August 30, 2014 1:41 pm

    The first sentence in your post took an ironic turn after this morning when “the reinforcements” became 6 more whoopers–the class of 2013! People will start thinking it’s White Bird Marsh instead of White River Marsh one day.

  2. Frances August 29, 2014 7:53 pm

    What are the white flashes that frequently cross your webcam soon after sunset and on into the night? Sometimes, they look like small white birds; sometimes, they flash so quickly, I cannot identify anything.

    • Heather Ray August 30, 2014 9:33 am

      If you mean when our infrared camera is on, it’s insects – moths, etc.

  3. Patricia Ewing August 29, 2014 9:31 am

    Love the show – the way 5 was strutting past the tumes was something to behold. 🙂

  4. Jo August 29, 2014 9:16 am

    we could almost hear the boys sayin’ ” come on, just one grape, we know you have ’em dude, just one”

  5. Laura Rowan August 29, 2014 6:20 am

    What a great day for everyone to watch and esp. for Geoff who has been with these birds since they came out of their eggs and for Doug Pellerin, crane whisperer/rock star. I can’t think of two better people to be standing there!!