They Migrated!!! Not everyone; just a few. Havarti (my favorite), Queso (my Christmas bird), and Feta (the pretty one) took off from Wisconsin, and landed in Iowa.
Attempting to follow flying birds is so exhilarating.
Actually, we’re not supposed to be following the birds. We are supposed to stay ahead of the birds. This way, if we need to stop for gas or food or a quick trip to the facilities, the birds will still be flying towards us. If the stop takes a little bit longer, we could still hear the tail end of their signal in front of us. This is very good practical sense.
In practice, though, I found it a little difficult to stay in front of the birds. I got up there a few times, but because the birds kept flying slightly west, I had to keep cutting west, too. Eventually I lost the birds in the hills. There were no north-south roads, so I was zigging through valley trails. Dirt and gravel roads don’t allow for speed, and being at the bottom of the valley isn’t conducive to listening for radio signals.
I kept driving south until dusk hoping to catch up to the birds, but I never caught a signal. At sunset I stopped to walk around a little, fuel up on gas, get some food, and make a plan for the night and next day to find those birds.
I knew they couldn’t be far. The last little blip I heard was around 4pm. Sunset is around 5:45, and I’m sure the cranes landed a little before that so they could eat.
Well, I drove around for a couple hours after dark, and I didn’t hear a thing. Nothing but static came over the radio. When I dejectedly began my search for a hotel, there were none available! It turns out that the beginning of deer/gun season books up every hotel and motel for leagues. After driving around for an hour from motel to hotel, I wised up and sat down with my computer so I could call around for vacancies. Note to self: always do this. I got the last vacancy at a cute little dive motel. The room wasn’t stellar, but the sheets were clean and the owner lent me an alarm clock from the fifties (I had to figure out how to work it).
In the morning, I woke up at 6 am, made my plan: I was going to follow up the Mississippi in Iowa to see if the chicks landed there. They did!! Oh my gosh, they did!!! I startled at the first beep as though the dead started walking again.
After getting a visual, I positioned myself on a hilltop to the south. That way if the chicks started flying again, I’d already be south of them and ready to roll.
Well, they haven’t left yet. I like to check on them once an hour just to be sure they are safe. It may not be Iowa’s deer/gun season yet, but it IS bird/gun season. There are a LOT of hunters out there. I can hear a gunshot almost every 5 minutes, and usually several rounds going off at one time.
During one of my hourly checks, I discovered my chicks weren’t alone out here in Podunk (for whooping cranes) Iowa. 13-03 and 18-03 were out there in the cornfield with my chicks! I can’t believe this. 13 & 18 started migrating only yesterday and what are they doing out here? It’s understandable that the chicks might fly southwest. They’ve never flown south before. Adults, though? They’ve been flying since 2003. Weird coincidence that they should happen to meet up in an unlikely place. Let’s just hope the chicks stay with the adults long enough to find their way back east. I’m so proud of them, regardless of flying slightly off the proscribed track.
And here's a gratuitous kitty picture. He was hunting in front of my van, so I couldn't resist taking pictures.