Havarti, the smallest bird, has fledged!!! All of our birds are flying like champs. We've been separating ourselves from their daily lives so they can learn to forage on their own. We've seen them eating larger prey more frequently. For example, Havarti caught a snake the other week, but Ricotta stole it and ate it. Two can play at that game, though. Yesterday, Ricotta caught a mouse, but Havarti stole it and ate it (after much struggling and running around, of course).
We've seen the chicks foraging with The Jones's (the adult whooping cranes who also live near Site 3), and we even saw the Jones's roosting in the chicks' day pen! The day pen is the pen without netting over the top so the chicks can fly out or in anytime during the day. We are really hoping that the chicks will follow the Jones's when it comes time to migrate.
I'll have to post new pictures soon, the chicks are turning very white. We're planning to do a final health check and band/tag the chicks in mid October, we're just waiting for the transmitters to be shipped to us. These transmitters are specially made to be lightweight and small. They fit on a small band that goes on the chick's leg just above the hock. We try to keep the transmitters as light as possible so they don't weigh down the birds during flight. Once the transmitter is in place, it sends out signal for a couple of years.
There are a few birds in the flock who have transmitters that no longer send out signals. We'll be preparing a list of priority birds to catch up to do a quick health check and transmitter-change-out. It may be a little difficult, though, since we'll have to find these birds visually. They hide very adeptly in tall grass.
It's looking like October will be a very busy month.