A week ago this area received an inch of rain in one night. It was the night before we arrived and driving through the area, I saw ponds where I know there should only be fields.
The increased water in the marsh means an improved predator alert system for the nesting pair, consisting of female 3-14 and male 4-12. As you can see from the photo below, they were smart enough to construct their nest – their first ever, I might add – in an area already surrounded by water.
Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan captured this photo during an aerial survey and confirms a couple of things: 1. Bev has very steady hands as flying an aircraft and using a long lens from a high altitude usually doesn’t result in sharp images.
2. Instinct is a wonderful thing. These two whooping cranes are 3 and 5 years of age. This is their first time nesting and both were hatched in incubators. It would not have surprised me if their first nest had resembled a square box, much like an incubator but here they’ve constructed this incredible, symmetrical and tall nest platform in an ideal location, deep in the marsh. Well. Done.
It’s been raining for the past two days so water in the marsh is accumulating and a number of people have asked if the nest is in danger of flooding. Yes, I suppose it is but we have seen them pulling additional cattails and vegetation onto the platform so we’re hopeful their instincts will continue to guide this pair for another 10-12 days, which is when we anticipate a hatch (or two).
Tune in to watch live – in the rain.