Whooping Crane Curve Ball

Just when I think the cranes have developed a routine they throw me a curve ball…

Since we officially declared them released and shut the pen doors they have rather predictably come off roost right around sunrise. They fly to a favorite field and about 2 minutes later, Henry aka #5-12 and 30-16 arrive. Shortly thereafter, 3 Sandhill cranes put in their appearance.

They all forage happily for a few hours then fly to a wetland on the other side of the Fox River for a while. Usually midday is spent in Henry’s Pond, then late in the afternoon back to the field for a snack before roost.

Until Saturday afternoon this was the way the days have been going…

At noon Saturday, I was in the pen parking lot getting such weak signals from the direction of Henry’s Pond that I thought several of them must have their transmitter antenna’s dunked in water. I listened for a long time in all directions. Six of the birds’ beeps were equally loud in three directions. I turned the gain down. I turned the volume up. They were equally loud in those same three directions.

It was sunny and in the 70s, and very windy. Interesting to note that the Omni antenna on my RV was only getting one channel also. Usually it gets 9.

After a good bit of driving here and there and listening, I found Henry, 30-16, and youngsters: 2, 3, 7 and 8 over in Henry’s old summer wetland! Cranes 1, 4 and 6 were still in Henry’s pond. This was the first time in weeks they split up! But, not the last.

By 3 pm they were all back at Henry’s Pond. At 3:45 pm cranes 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 flew to the favorite field for a before roost snack. Henry, 30-16 and #1-17 stayed at the pond.

Juvenile Whooping cranes 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8-17 fly in for a late afternoon snack. Photo: C Chase

Sunday their routine was back to normal. All together. All day.

So, we wait and wonder where these cranes will end up this winter. The suspense builds…

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11 Comments

  1. Diane Riffel October 29, 2017 11:58 pm

    Thanks for the updates on the cranes!

  2. Diane Riffel October 25, 2017 5:54 pm

    Oh those silly cranes! I Love them!

  3. Cheryl N. October 25, 2017 4:59 pm

    Thanks for the update!

  4. Ed K. AKA Bikebrains October 25, 2017 11:36 am

    “So, we wait and wonder where these cranes will end up this winter. The suspense builds…” If we still had aircraft led migrations, this existential question would not exist.

    • Heather Ray October 25, 2017 1:30 pm

      But we don’t… So it does.

  5. Barb October 25, 2017 10:37 am

    Thanks for the wonderful photo. Its great!!!! If I remember correctly the girls receive the transmitters???? That means our boy Henry will lead 6 girls South ????

    • Heather Ray October 25, 2017 1:31 pm

      Females receive remote transmitters, which allow us to track them from afar. ALL cranes receive a VHF radio transmitter.

  6. PattiLat October 25, 2017 10:27 am

    Thank you Colleen, was anxious to hear an update. Appreciate it. Cool weather is coming, happy you ( : > )

  7. Barbara Thomas October 25, 2017 8:29 am

    That was a day to keep you busy.

  8. Jean P. aka CrabtowneMd October 25, 2017 8:13 am

    Thank you for the interesting update Colleen and congrats on getting cooler weather. I see Princeton may have S**W flurries today! Surely the cranes will start migrating soon. Hoping Henry and 30-16 lead them all safely southward to St. Mark’s.

  9. Di October 25, 2017 7:49 am

    So appreciate the updates, thank you!