It's been a bad year for viable egg production across the board (not just ICF). We've been debating how many birds will be raised for release this year (details below). If we don't have many birds, is it worth the time and resource cost to continue with the Direct Autumn Release program? So far, yes. We will continue with the program. But it's good to question what you are doing even if it seems grim. Otherwise, how can you justify your actions to outsiders?
We are continuing the program, even with low numbers, because there is research going on about bird survival past release. There is also research about productivity. We have a very small sample size out there, and the more birds we can introduce to the program, the larger the sample size will be in future years.
So then I must ask, "if they decide to can my program while I'm still in it, what is my next move?" Make myself useful immediately. I've started a survival study out of the released birds from the mid-90's. I spoke for all of the DAR interns when I offered to be useful beyond the DAR program. I hope that this situation resolves, because I don't want to see the end of it. I want to continue learning about crane husbandry, rearing, and release. I want to see the Whooping Crane in a viable Eastern migratory population.
We estimate the first egg will hatch on May 27th, which is my niece's birthday. I think it's fitting: two chicks on one day.