Changing Personalities of Cranes

I started to write this post October 6th, about how the birds have changed since I described their personalities when they were small, but then we attempted to fly on Wednesday, Oct. 7th the and my opinion of the birds changed. Our ‘velcro birds, our push button birds’ were now not as cooperative as they had been.

What changed? I don’t know. The travel pen was new of course, October 7th was the 1st release from it, a week since they had flown to the first stop. The air was choppy, did that freak them out? Are they just getting older and less anxious to follow? This past Tuesday’s release was a repeat, once again a week since they had flown, 8 & 11-15 landed in the field to the south of the pen and Brooke headed south with 1, 2, 6 & 10-15. Heather and I led 8 and 11-15 back to the pen and waited for the tracking van to bring the pilots back. Brooke and I boxed them to the next stop. Brooke always says things can change quickly with the birds and it sure did. Dang it…


After a week and a bit of mulling it I can’t definitively say what is different, but this is what I’ve observed:

#1 (green band) makes me smile every time I walk in the pen. She spreads her wings as if to say you are on my turf watch it! Sometimes she flaps and flies in a HAPPY DANCE as best she can with a topnet in place. She is loyal to the trike, independent and just awesome!

#2 (black band) went from the class dunce to being the rockstar. She sticks to the trike like glue and even challenges it and tries to lead. She will always be the classic example of “Never give up on a chick”. She is calm now thank goodness, no more pacing and stressing as she often did as a very young bird at Patuxent.

#6 (Yellow band) is not a mean girl anymore, she is curious and likes to investigate everything. She is a great follower!

#8 (yellow #25) is still a happy bird. She likes watermelon a lot. I wish I knew why she landed out Tuesday.

#10 (green band #15) is not a “Chicken Little” anymore, she is a great follower and sticks close to the trike! She always comes to visit the costume.

#11 (dark blue band) is still my favorite, he was the bird that the fox scared and he flew into the pen panel. He seemed a bit sore and subdued for a few days after that incident. I was so relieved when he got back to his normal curious, sweet, friendly self! I hope we do not see a repeat of Tuesday and he does not see anymore crates!

I can’t describe how interesting it is to watch them grow and change. So much fun and such a privilege! By the time they head back north next spring, they will have changed even more. Once let out of the top-netted pen at St Marks the dynamics will change again drastically.

There are a lot of things that I hope. I hope that each of these birds makes it back to Wisconsin next Spring – the first year is so perilous. I hope that black flies are dealt with. I hope that the predator issue is solved and wild-hatched chicks survive to fledge. My biggest hope is that this species survives. I think they are God’s finest creation. This world would not be as beautiful without them.


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  1. Christy October 18, 2015 1:44 pm

    Thanks, Colleen.

  2. Dave Guiltinan October 17, 2015 12:30 pm

    Beautiful post……thanks….

  3. Jenny October 17, 2015 10:51 am

    Thank you for telling us about their personalities. Wonderful FJ, it made me cry (happy cry).

  4. Carol Berglund October 17, 2015 7:10 am

    Thank you, Coll. You make the world a more beautiful place, too!

  5. Carol Giancola October 17, 2015 6:49 am

    This is a totally moving FJ entry. Thank you all at OM for being there for the world’s birds. They are a treasure. Your patience and keen sense of noting their individuality gives us something deep within the soul. Bless you.

  6. Sue McCurdy October 16, 2015 9:10 pm

    Great commentary! Thanks

  7. AintThatAmerica October 16, 2015 5:45 pm

    Actually these birds evolved over millions of years. It definitely wouldn’t be the same world without them. The species has a much better chance of survival, thanks to this project. A big thank you!

  8. Margie Tomlinson October 16, 2015 5:07 pm

    Oh, Colleen, what a beautiful report! It made my eyes tear up. <3 I too wish for all those things you mentioned. Thank you for sharing all the details of each of our colts this year. Hope you are faring well, too, during the long journey South. Miss you, good buddy!

  9. Pat Kinser October 16, 2015 4:17 pm

    I would agree with Bea from FL. My sentiments, esp. on the final paragraph. Hopeful for flying tomorrow.

  10. Cathy October 16, 2015 3:58 pm

    Love this, thank you Colleen. The world is also a much more beautiful place because there are people like you in it. Thank you for all that you do on behalf of these magnificent birds.

  11. LaraLeaf October 16, 2015 3:57 pm

    This is a terrific post. It is wonderful to read about the personalities and traits of the colts. I so hope they all fly next time out. It is too bad that the trike can’t fly to the travel pen (on the days it’s okay for the trike but not the colts to fly) and just do some up and down the ‘runway’ with them, to keep the bond strong, at the stops that last so long, but I can imagine several reasons this can’t happen. Wish you all the best!

  12. jillbru October 16, 2015 3:25 pm

    ?? Thank you for a wonderful posting. You were born to be a Tume.

  13. Lindi Allen October 16, 2015 2:11 pm

    Thank you for all you do with OM, Thanks for the update on how you see their growing personalities, you worked with them as tiny chicks and are working with them now and can see the changes. I also want to see their populations grow and be strong.

  14. Sallly Swanson October 16, 2015 2:08 pm

    Thanks, Colleen, for your very intuitive observations on the colts this year. I think it is amazing that you all are so good with the cranes. The world is a better place for having Operation Migration and all of the folks who care, be it the tumes, the pilots, the mods, the people in the background taking care of business and the chatters! Whoop! Whoop!


  15. Bea-FL October 16, 2015 1:43 pm

    This is by far the most interesting, moving, touching FJ entry I’ve read. Especially that last paragraph – it brought tears to my eyes.

  16. Mindy October 16, 2015 1:28 pm

    So very nice Colleen…It is so refreshing to hear about personalities and changes from someone close to the action. I so admire your work with the Whoopers, especially what you did at Patuxent. I still think that your nurturing ways made a difference this year. Your continuing sacrifice and dedication is very inspiring and the birds unashamedly love you so much…it is very evident. Thank you for everything you do everyday for them! You are a fantastic Tume!