Saturday, May 22, 2010

Getting Close and Personal with Cranes

Today, I had quite a few firsts. I've been here for 2 weeks, so they trust me on my own with the cranes. First thing this morning, they sent me off to do Pod Check on my own. This entailed checking food, water, and the physical health of the cranes. It can be scary at times because some of the cranes are very aggressive. I would say I passed with flying colors. Or maybe I should at least say I passed with no bruises.

Next up, they set me on "defense practice." This is where I and a fellow each have a broom and we are instructed to keep the bird away from the person stealing the bird's eggs (don't worry, the eggs will be returned). It's a little intimidating when the bird is going straight for your face. It's even more scary when the bird tries to avoid you altogether so they can attack the person stealing the eggs. That person doesn't have a broom, so it's like they are defenseless. Even worse, they are carrying the precious cargo: the eggs! I feel as though I did admirably. It must be because of the practice as a keeper. I managed to keep a very agile bird from flying onto the egg-stealer. I wish I could've gotten pictures, but it was a pretty intense time. I'll try to post some pics later if I ever get any. This one will have to suffice for now. Yeah, it's like that:

The reason we took the eggs was so we could weigh them and candle them. Here you can see a 5 day old egg being candled. We hold up the larger end to the light (larger end is towards the right). You can see a lighter color in the egg where the air cell is forming.

We crouch under a blanket to block out the light during candling.

Here's a strangely constructed nest that looks more like a runway.

oops, here we are taking the eggs.

Now it's a sad nest.

This is our official egg-stealing (and egg returning) box. There are two real eggs on the left and one dummy egg on the right. We replace the real eggs with the dummies while we are weighing and candling so the parent cranes will continue sitting on the nest between times and won't be too distressed that we took the eggs.

Sometimes we bring eggs in to be incubated. We have one egg that's so close to hatching that we we play calls to it. Recorded sounds of parent cranes purring to their eggs to trigger hatch. When we played the recording, the egg started to rock a little, back and forth. Amazing.


  1. egg stealerer!!! you're like that mean dinosaur in land before time... but with a broom :P

  2. Land before time? I haven't thought of that movie in at least 3 weeks... Though the white-napes are a little like velociraptors...