The Life of a Tracker

Guest Author: Doug Pellerin

This is my third year tracking whooping cranes for the International Crane Foundation (ICF) and Operation Migration (OM). I’ve enjoyed my travels and all the wonderful experiences I’ve had while tracking the cranes.

The reason that we go out tracking is to pinpoint the location of the cranes and to identify the different types of habitat that they are in and to make sure that they are safe.

Tracking the cranes can take me to some very rural areas and explore places I’ve never seen before. The best part is when I get to see the birds in the wild, which is awesome and meeting some really great people. I’ve had some people approach and ask why I’m holding an antenna in my hand and waving it around. Of course, I explain to them why I’m there and what I’m doing. Most people are curious and seem to take a great deal of interest in our work.

There is one part of tracking that I don’t enjoy as much. That is when I cannot find the birds no matter how hard I try and it does happen. When I go out to a certain area and can’t locate them or even get a signal, it’s frustrating, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Tracking last year’s ultralight-led cranes has been challenging to say the least. Two of the 6 birds split off from the group which left numbers 6, 8, 10 and 11-15 and these four stinkers have been all over the place, but that’s what young whoopers do.

Whooping cranes 6, 8, 10 & 11-15 in Winnebago County, Wisconsin earlier this summer.

Whooping cranes 6, 8, 10 & 11-15 in Winnebago County, Wisconsin earlier this summer.

The same four cranes in Washington County, Wisconsin.

The same four cranes in Washington County, Wisconsin.

I’ve tracked these four birds for a couple of weeks and then all of a sudden, they split up leaving two of the birds together while the other two went in different directions… oh well. That’s the life of a tracker. I wouldn’t change any of it.

Knowing the locations of the birds and how they are doing gives me great peace of mind and a great appreciation for the work that OM and ICF does. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to ICF and OM for the opportunity. I wish you all the best for your future.

Doug Pellerin

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  1. Harold McMiller July 21, 2016 12:43 am

    The cranes are really pretty. I’m also in the Wisconsin area so I hope to make a trip one day and hopefully be able to spot them.

  2. Mollie Cook July 17, 2016 2:24 pm

    Doug you do such a wonderful job & your dedication & love for the Whoopers is unsurpassed. Everything you do is so appreciated & admired by all of us. May every day tracking these glorious creatures bring you joy & blessings.

  3. Bobbie (piscesbobbie) July 16, 2016 8:40 pm

    I am going to add also THANK YOU DOUG! For giving your time and love to these amazing creatures. Your photos are always beautiful and thank you for sharing with us 🙂

  4. Carol Giancola July 15, 2016 4:02 pm

    Appreciate all that you do, Doug. And I enjoy all of your photos on Facebook as well. Thank you so much!!!

  5. CalH July 15, 2016 1:50 pm

    Doug if it was not for you all us craniac’s would be at a disadvantage in knowing where and how the WB are doing thank you ever so much for your diligence in doing so

  6. Susan Marsh July 15, 2016 12:24 pm

    And I thank you , Doug, for your dedication. It takes a team.

  7. Warrenwesternpa July 15, 2016 9:25 am

    The Life of a Tracker, Doug Pellerin

    An interesting perspective from someone whose been there. I have tried to track down lost pets, game animals and other wildlife. I can’t even imagine birds! I have better luck finding lost kids in a theme park!
    Great journal entry, Doug. And yes … Peace of mind is a wonderful objective. Good to hear from you!

  8. Kate Crook July 15, 2016 8:15 am

    Thank you Doug for all you have done to ensure survival for these beautiful birds!

  9. Kay Huey July 15, 2016 6:24 am

    What joy it must be to round a corner and THERE THEY ARE! How I wish I lived anywhere nearby and might be allowed to tiptoe in your footsteps.