Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye Crane Foundation!

It has been a year and a half since I started at the Crane Foundation.

The worst part of this job:

Hair raising experiences on back country roads
will this covered bridge hold my weight? here's hoping!

Very long, boring days and no weekends
Look what I made in a week and a half!

Hipwaders and floating mats

Long treks into the wilderness for dead cranes
This is not a lewd picture. You can feel the discomfort as dan adjusts his shorts in the chest waders after a long treck through the hot woods. sludging through swamps and being devoured by mosquitoes.

The best part of this job:

Raising the whooping crane chicks for release
As provider

As guardian

Tracking the birds
Aerial tracking

Ground tracking


And finding the cranes!

Having an outdoor job: I am always in the beautiful outdoors. I have seen nearly every sunrise and sunset for the past year and a half.
Cayuga power plant, IN

2010 DAR cohort post release on East Rynearson

Meeting and working with the locals
Charles Murray, crane enthusiast and retired teacher
Local 5th graders at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge
 The people I work with: Everyone here knows the goals we are working towards and they work well together. This is a wonderful environment for teamwork as well as personal growth. The whooping cranes (and other crane species) couldn't ask for better allies.

2010 Field Ecology Department

2010 DAR interns

Tom, the pilot, and Anne


Myself, Eva, and Nancy from the DNR

Thank you, Readers, for your comments and questions. Thank you, Crane Foundation, for being so wonderful.

Signing off until the next blog!

Jen Davis
Whooping Crane Tracker
International Crane Foundation

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Strange Sighting

What is this bird?

 And why is it in America? specifically, at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee...

Will we band the crane and see where he goes?

These are all questions I was asked during an interview for several papers after I identified this crane as a hooded crane in mid-December. Two women were having a lovely day birdwatching at the Hiwassee Refuge when they spotted this strangely colored crane. When the local Craniac, Charles Murray, appeared on the scene he knew to call me in.

Well, admittedly, I couldn't identify it right away, either. Though the words "hooded crane" came out of my mouth in a quasi questioning tone. After sending pictures of him to the experts at the crane foundation we had our positive identification. We notified the local bird-watchers list serve and the days of peaceful isolation watching cranes from the Hiwassee Refuge observation gazebo were history.

This is what the gazebo used to look like on any given day
Some articles covering the story are:

News Channel 9

Chattanooga Times Free Press

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Migration Rundown!

Tuesday, November 29th was a cold and lonely day. It started like every previous day that week: the 7 Dar juveniles were alone, they weren't really flying around too much. They were huddled in a field together. All of a sudden, they were in the air. This isn't really something new. They've flown large circles before only to land back in the same spot. They have done this on multiple occasions over the past week. I was determined to catch a picture of them flying.

As I saw them fly over the hills south of Madison, I noticed that they were with 2 sandhill cranes! This was different; maybe they would actually migrate. I quickly packed away my window-mount scope and camera. I just as quickly unpacked my Illinois map and GPS. I followed them down through Wisconsin, but got ahead of them in Northern Illinois. It's best to be in front of your birds.

I lost them in northern Illinois. The last faint signal I heard was North East of me. I was on a south bound expressway and I was trying to cut East but waiting for a fast road to drive on because they were moving at 75 miles per hour that day.

Once I cut east, I didn't hear their signal again for 3 days. I waited that night for the Satellite transmitters to return a reading to my e-mail. It comes in about 7:00 pm. This was torture because I lost them in early afternoon. Well, the satellite reading was no help: it gave me information from the day before. :(

Wednesday, November 30th, I went a little south and sat a the border of Illinois/Indiana hoping to hear a signal. Worst luck ever: They reading from the previous day showed they were in Terre Haute Indiana. I drove to Terre Haute that night and didn't find a single signal once I was down there.

Thursday, Dec 1st. While I was waiting for the next set of Satellite signals to come in I tracked around Indiana's Western edge. It was a long day but I found a lot of birds. When the satellite PTTs came in that night at 7 pm. I started my drive from western Indiana to South Eastern Tennessee. What? Yes. I drove until 1:30 am to get to Tennessee.

Friday, Dec 2nd. Thankfully, 3 of the birds were still there. 14-11, 17-11, 20-11

The other 4 may have split off during Migration. 2 Arrived in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Two of the original 7 still haven't been spotted. Also, we're still looking for 19-11, who hasn't been seen since November 16th, in Wisconsin.

Sat Dec 3rd - Tues Dec 13: Since I've been in TN, only one bird split from the 3. 14-11 is down at Weiss lake with Sandhill buddies. Last year, a bird (maybe two) was shot down there so I hope it doesn't happen again this year. Some adults may be on their way to join her since this is a common wintering area for some adult whoopers, but considering events from last year, we'll see if they do join her.

17-11 and 20-11 have quite contentedly remained at Hiwassee Wildlife refuge. I'm here with my buddy from last year, 21-10, or Roquefort. Also, our Michigan bird is here: 37-07.