Last week we tasked you with finding a tiny Sandhill crane chick in a photograph and mentioned we were going to attempt to capture it to place a transmitter on it.
Well, you accomplished your task and I’m pleased to say so did we!
Jeff, Brooke, Joe and I planned our approach: Brooke and I walked into the field from the south, while Jeff and Joe approached from the road to the east. There was a marsh near the road and we didn’t want the parents to lead the chick into the marsh when they spotted us.
As we drew near, the two adults flew off and we began searching for the chick in the vegetation. After about 20 minutes Brooke spotted it hunkered down in the grasses and scooped it up.
The first order of business is to place it in a clean pillowcase to get a weight on it. This little critter weighed in at 665 grams. By comparison, the first chick we captured and radio-marked was 110 grams – waaaay smaller.
Next Brooke held the chick while Jeff and Joe prepared and placed the 2.2 gram transmitter on the chicks’ back. It will be held in place by eyelash glue until it eventually falls off. The battery life on these tiny transmitters is 115 days – plenty of time to learn if it survives to fledge.
Once the transmitter is in place, we measured the tarsus, which, along with the mass, will give us a good idea of the age of this chick. This guy had a tarsus measurement of 11 centimeters, making him/her approximately 3 weeks of age. This also means its parents continued to incubate during the mid-April storm. Impressive!
In total, we had this little fluffball in hand for less than 6 minutes. Once he was ready to be released, Brooke carried him about 15 feet away and placed his feet on the ground.
Off he goes!
We’re happy to report both mom and dad returned to join him after approximately 15 minutes!