Last Saturday, I decided to head out with Joe to try to locate his two Parent-Reared chicks: 26-17 a female and 28-17 a male.
I don’t believe he has actually seen either of them since the day after they were released in Marquette County, Wisconsin near two target adults: male #10-11 and female #27-14.
We can tell by the GSM hits for #26-17 that she is indeed using the same field that the target adults are using but we can’t actually tell if they are associating.
The male chick, #28-17 has been bebopping all over the county and wouldn’t you know it? Of all the released cranes this year, he’s the only one without a remote tracking device…
Joe has not seen him, or heard his beeps in weeks and only recently Wisconsin DNR pilot Matt Brandt was able to detect beeps from the birds radio transmitter on a couple of aerial surveys. Last week Matt was able to actually get eyes on him in an area that Joe had already checked several times so we ventured out Saturday to see if we could find him ourselves.
Picture this: two hours of stopping every mile to listen for beeps. In some locations we could detect his signal and get a bearing for the direction they were the strongest. We would head to another location to try to biangulate and then another to triangulate but the angulates were just not jiving.
The only conclusion we came to was that this bird is a master at evading trackers.
On to the next Parent-Reared crane, number 26-17. She hardly ever leaves this large flooded field so she should be easy to find.
Sure enough, as we pulled up to a safe location to get the antenna/receiver out, there she was! No need to listen for beeps when you can see the legbands and it was definitely her!
I was snapping photos when I heard Joe excitedly say “Here come the two adults! They’re going to land near her”!
I stopped taking photos of her just long enough to locate the two large white birds coming in on final approach and began snapping again, trying to get everyone in the same frame.
I began reviewing the photos on the back of the camera and as I zoomed in on one of the adults, I said “white/red/white left – that’s Peanut”! Sure enough, he and he buddy 11-15 had found the young female 26-17 and were stopping in to pay her a visit.
What about the two original target birds you ask? They’re still there also, so this makes five Whooping cranes at this large wetland complex.
Here are a couple of photos I was able to capture.