Frostbitten Cheeks and Toes

On Monday, November 20th, Brooke and I went out to the chicks favorite field to wait for them at first light. The plan was to sweet talk and get them friendly with the costume again. It was 17 degrees.

The pen had been setup since Friday. It was the start of gun deer hunting season and we could not get on the property over the weekend. Perfect timing – they had the weekend to get familiar with the travel pen.

They arrived and flirting began. By Tuesday afternoon we knew Wednesday would be the day.

I led 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8 away from the pen and left Brooke to deal with 3 and 7. Soon my feet hurt they were so cold. I sat down cross-legged to get them off the frozen ground. My tushy never got as cold as my feet but it did get chilly!

Whooping crane #1-17 came by to investigate (and POKE) the costume sitting on the ground.

It was amazing to be sitting there with them, keeping them amused and away from the pen. I am a bird person. I have had parrots for 30 years, so it’s not only a huge honor to have helped raise these birds, but it’s fascinating to observe them. They are hands down as smart as my parrots, they just don’t talk. They don’t draw blood as often as my parrots either. WHACK… they bruise you instead. All birds bite or whack those they love.

After cranes 3 and 7 were boxed and in the van, Brooke came and found us. We all wandered back to the pen. We had to be sure they were ok with the pen because we planned to repeat this capture process with cranes 4 and 6 the following week.

1, 2 and 8, would remain at WRM and be given a final chance to get gone on their own. They each went in for a treat or two, which made this capture a success. So, I started walking as swiftly as I could up to the van, a 100 yards or so up near the farmhouse. My feet hurt so much at this point I could hardly walk, I felt like I was walking on flaming rockers. Yikes.

We drove to north of Baraboo – to a wonderful field with hundreds of Sandhill Cranes in it. The birds were released and went to the middle of their cousins like it was a family reunion. I thought I would be sad, but I wasn’t. They were not stressed and neither were the other birds.

It went smoothly with the exception of my frostbitten toes and cheeks!

Three days of frosty 17 degree temps while in the field and a few trips here takes it’s toll.

Trips to the porta-potty in winter are never fun.

The cranes poke in the frosty ground inside the pen.

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  1. FFMN December 2, 2017 2:43 pm

    Yep, those inexpensive hand/feet warmers really do the trick!!!

  2. Susanne Shrader December 1, 2017 9:22 pm

    Literally frostbitten? Did you lose any flesh?

    • Colleen Chase December 2, 2017 10:44 am

      3 toes officially frostbitten. They are peeling now.


      • Barb December 3, 2017 8:36 am

        Oh, you poor dear! What we do for love…. you give hope for the human race by your example of selfless love for another creature, the Whooping Crane. I hope your ties are not too painful.

  3. Sally Swanson December 1, 2017 7:24 pm

    To paraphrase “Cold feet, warm heart. Dirty face; no sweetheart!” I hope your toesies are better!


  4. Gary Hahn December 1, 2017 6:39 pm

    Three pairs of socks!

  5. Barb December 1, 2017 6:28 pm

    Oh my goodness, when I read the title of this post, I immediately had visions of very cold Whoopers’ feet frozen in the ponds. Thank goodness my vision was not true!!!! I’m sorry it was your feet that was so cold. Have you tried those heat activated pads sold to hunters to keep hands and feet warm?

    Thanks so much for the update. Maybe you need a hot tub in the motor home to warm up after a long cold day outside.:)

    • Colleen Chase December 2, 2017 10:47 am

      Yep toes were resting on them. I got frostbitten several years ago persuading a couple of chicks from the class of 2013 to come out of Horse Creek. I understand one is more susceptible after the 1st time.