Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chick Release Part 4: The Aftermath

When Nacho, Pepper Jack, Havarti, and Goat finally landed, they landed in water!! I was so proud of them. But I was a little worried that Goat didn't seem to be with the rest of the group. Remember, that I was trying to determine the chicks' locations in the dark by radio signal. I'm not exactly sure where they are, but I can roughly determine Nacho, PJ, and Havarti are in a somewhat larger body of water: a marsh. Their signals are coming back a little "watery" sounding. I'm pretty confident about them, but I'm not sure about Goat. He's nearby.

I tell Richard, who is still driving around trying to pin point their locations. He takes a road to try to get closer to Goat's signal and to see if he can see anything. Well he did find Goat. Goat was struggling and caught in some brambles. His lower bill was slightly broken, and if you've ever trimmed a beak, or clipped a nail to short on any animal, you know there's a lot of blood in those quicks.

Unfortunately it's at this point, while Richard is struggling with helping the bird, that I lose my cell phone. I'm desperately searching around the car for it, knowing that it's ringing A LOT, but not being able to find it. Eventually, my other phone (p.o.s.) got a call out to Marianne, who updated me on the situation.

Marianne will take my vehicle and stay with Richard to help with the medical emergency. She's very experienced with medical issues and handling birds.

I will drive north with Aubrey and the rest of the supplies and search for Roq and Ric who are still in the woods.

Goats story: After Marianne joined with Richard. They managed to wrap his beak back into position. It had been hanging at a 35 degree angle, hinged on the (right?) side. So it wasn't completely broken. There is a chance that it can heal. There is a point on the bird's bill (like a quick) that the beak tissue continually grows from. The birds do a lot of probing and pecking at things, so the bill keeps growing throughout their lives, being worn down, like beaver teeth, by constant use. There is hope. Birds have survived with broken bills before. After Marianne and Richard wrap up his bill, they take him back to site 3 and release him in the night pen so he is safe. Marianne set up a smaller "dry pen" for him so he is not tempted to drink any water or probe for food (we don't want him eating before we take him to see the vet, the next day). The next day, I helped Marianne catch goat and crate him so she can take him back to Baraboo for the vet to examine. We determined that after a week or two of healing, he will be released again. His beak looked really good to me! I was expecting the worst, but it was sitting straight. Though, there was a small millimeter gap between the upper and lower bills at just the very tip, that's better than amazing after such a break as he endured. I think Goat is going to be alright.

Roq and Ric's story: Aubrey and I show up at the same place we released the chicks in the North. Eva's been waiting. It's long after dark by now. It seems like Gouda and Havarti have safely roosted near the adult pair nearby (11-03/12-03, who had a nest and a tiny chick of their own early in the summer, but he didn't survive). Long story short: we walked into the woods and trudged around in the dark autumn swamp the first time without finding anything. We went back to the car, found we had walked into the wrong swamp/woods the first time. We tried it again, this time in the right area, but after another 1/2 hour of trudging, we still didn't find the birds. We determined we needed a hand-held reciever (like in this blog entry) to try to find the birds on foot. Marianne shows up with the working hand held reciever, because it's taken this long and she's done tending Goat. All 4 trudge back out into the woods and lo! There are the 2 birds. I can see them through the trees and sparse brush. Their eyes are glinting in the blinding flash of the headlamps. (Mind, we're all wearing our crane costumes so the chicks don't see humans). Marianne walks closer to them to determine exactly what habitat they are in. Luck is with us! or the chicks have retained their senses. They are standing in marsh. It's a long, skinny marsh that was tucked in the woods in a manner that disguises itself from the human intruder, but the birds must have seen it and followed it back to their current roosting spot. This is additionally great news, because the birds are in water. That means we don't have to catch them up and move them. Whew. What a night.

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