Backpack Transmitters Removed

If you were watching our camera yesterday morning you will already know that we removed the backpack transmitters from 2-14, 7-14 & 9-14.

Yesterday morning all of the birds took off ahead of the aircraft ?on their own ?for a short circuit around the pen lasting 30 seconds. On the next flight with the aircraft ?the three birds fitted with backpacks dropped out after 30 to 40 seconds, while the other 3 flew for 5 or 6 minutes ?extending out a mile or so.

This ?was their fifth training session since the units were fitted and we have not seen any improvement in their flight ability. The weather was still holding so Joe gave the order to remove the backpacks and try again. Brooke removed them without the need to pick the birds up and it was done on the runway in ?about ?30 seconds per bird.

They were allowed to rest and preen for 5 minutes, then Brooke attempted another flight. This time all of the birds, except number 9-14, followed for five minutes or more. Number 9 did take off with the aircraft but failed to keep up. Instead, she flew three circuits around the pensite while the other birds were with the aircraft. This was longer that we saw any of the backpacked birds fly since they have been wearing them.

Given that they had just been grabbed and only had 5 minutes to adjust, it was surprising that even the other two flew as long as they did. To us, this was a clear indication that the backpacks were inhibiting them and demonstrated that it was not a result of a reluctance to follow us. In fact, number 2-14 has always been a good follower. Even with the backpack, she always attempted to follow, and did follow well as soon as it was removed.

This morning Richard van Heuvelen was our lead pilot and all six flew with him, extending out a couple miles from the site and for a duration of 20 minutes and 9 seconds. Pretty conclusive evidence that the backpack transmitters were inhibiting their normal flight ability.

We hope to allow #4-14 out tomorrow (weather permitting) to see if he’ll fly. He’s been grounded for ~3 weeks after sustaining a soft tissue injury to his tarsus in the pen one evening during a storm with strong winds. He still has his legbrace on, which should help to keep his leg stable upon landing.

Here are a couple of images I captured this morning from the public viewing area at Mile Rd. and County Road D.

IMG_3778_1 IMG_3965_1 IMG_4000_1

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  1. Bobbie September 29, 2014 1:40 pm

    So wonderful to get THAT out of the way! So much talk about the Bald Eagles that do wonderful with them, they have such different body types! Glad all is proceeding as it should and looking forward to Migration!

  2. Catherine Wohlfeil September 28, 2014 10:43 pm

    Everyone’s first flight begins with leaning into the wind, stretching out one’s wings, lift, strength, and a whole lot of faith.

    No one knows if he or she can do it. You just do… or you don’t… each as he or she is meant to do… or not…

    Time is the healer not only of physical growth, but spiritual and of the heart.

    Each of us relies upon a brace, of the soul, of the spirit, and of our own destiny.

    None of us knows… for sure… if we’re headed in the right direction, … but we are… if only we keep going.

    Once the wind takes us, we lift, we soar, we become… and we know, that the direction we were once headed in was true, that the hopes and dreams of our youth were not a lie, that what we once believed and now know, means more to us than any cost paid, because in arriving, and landing gently on our runway of life, we have arrived at who we are meant to be.

    Go Peanut… Fly now…

    • Heather Ray September 29, 2014 6:05 am

      Beautiful Catherine 🙂

      • Catherine Wohlfeil September 29, 2014 8:14 am

        Thank you. And thank you all for being there for these magnificent cranes. May they follow the wind beneath your wings and fly for many years to come.

    • Mary W-D September 29, 2014 9:15 am

      Lovely reflection Catherine, thank you.

  3. Cathy (Clydesfan) September 28, 2014 1:32 am

    Thank you so much for the update Heather! I always enjoy them. Will the other three receive the leg trackers? Thank you for everything all of you do!

    • Heather Ray September 28, 2014 5:07 am

      all of them (except #4-14) have leg mounted transmitters.

  4. Mary W-D September 27, 2014 9:59 pm

    Just kind of musing out loud: the birds may poke and probe at their “jewelry” transmitters because they’re within reach and withing eyesight…. but they may not feel nearly as uncomfortable as even a “light” weight along their spinal cord that I’d think the backpacks would create. I’m feeling relieved that they’ve been relieved of those. (All speculation of course on my part.) I know I wouldn’t want any weight on my neck, shoulders, or spinal cord when doing ordinary movements.

  5. jillbru September 27, 2014 8:22 pm

    We are all pulling for Peanut! He is such a positive little guy, I know he will do his best. Thanks for, as Jane said, for being creative and flexible with the colts. Can’t wait for tomorrow morning to see Peanut fly!

  6. Dave Sapko September 27, 2014 7:10 pm

    Glad to read the experiment on the youngsters is terminated.

  7. Bikebrains September 27, 2014 7:10 pm

    ” Joe gave the order to remove the backpacks and try again. ” Good idea. Sometimes things just do not go as wished. Maybe this failure will point to a design that will work.

  8. eugenia September 27, 2014 5:35 pm

    Thanks for the great report! It’s so interesting that the backpacks, as light as they were, seemed to make things just ‘not quite right’. Wish I had been able to see them taken off — that must have been quite a sight.

  9. Lillie Cannon September 27, 2014 4:41 pm

    Rooting for Peanut! So enjoy your updates, Heather! The “Lurker”, Tim, still looks in on you Monday through Friday!!

    • Heather Ray September 27, 2014 8:21 pm

      Hey Lurker! Yes, still hoping for Monday 😉

  10. P. Main September 27, 2014 4:12 pm

    I hope Peanut does great, landing with that brace on scares the heck out of me. Good luck to all.

  11. Patti Hakanson September 27, 2014 3:31 pm

    today was just incredible!! All of us watching I think were so proud and thrilled at the colt’s flight! So happy the backpacks were taken off to allow them to do what we all knew they were capable of!!! Beautiful flight this morning, Congrats to RVH and all of OM!! Great news about Peanut 🙂 Hope he will fly and do well tomorrow!!!

  12. Jane Maher September 27, 2014 3:24 pm

    Would it be possible to put the date at the beginning of the report in these cases? Maybe I am missing it, but it seems I look all over for it. I do appreciate the reports. This one is especially interesting, as it depicts the constant need and willingness of the team to be flexible and learn.

    • Heather Ray September 27, 2014 3:37 pm

      Jane, the date is in the red square, top left of the title of each entry.

      • PL September 30, 2014 11:05 am

        FYI – Just noticed that if your browser window is not wide enough, the red square is not there.

  13. Denise Renee September 27, 2014 3:11 pm

    Beautiful pictures and great observation on the backpacks! What a great team you all are! Thanks OM for all you do and sharing with us.

  14. Jenny Gibbs September 27, 2014 3:06 pm

    Go Peanut! Fingers crossed!!