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.
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.