The ups and downs of work on a refuge

Published: May 31st 2010
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For those who have been wondering why the blog posts have been few and far between for the past month or so, I am very sorry. Mainly, I've just been super busy with work. And when I'm not working, I just haven't felt up to writing.

Anyway, lots has been going on. Even since the last time I wrote, in mid-may. We are still desperately trying to keep the chicks alive, but are not having much success. It can definitely get a bit frustrating, but even so I am still so glad to have this job. I know that we are trying the best we can. Hopefully by the end of this nesting season we will have figured something out that works.

The main goal has been the nest barriers. The thought was build a barrier to put the chick in so that it will be protected from predators. The problem has been getting the parents to go in the pen with the chick. Take Fontainebleau for instance:

We spent about a week in this one area, trying to move the chick. The first time we tried was a friday and the chick was too small. We took
Lauren, Ingrid, FB chick, and meLauren, Ingrid, FB chick, and meLauren, Ingrid, FB chick, and me

in the pen, the morning we moved him
him and put him inside an actual pen (it is chain-link and 2-acres in size; not too far from the nest, and the parents often go to the pen to feed. we thought it'd be perfect). Turns out this chick is Houdini. lol. Lauren literally watched him fit his body through the small holes in the fence and get out. We put him back in. He got out again. At that point we gave up, brought him back to the nest, and decided on plan B. Early the next week we spent all morning chick-proofing the pen (ie putting up fencing along the perimeter of the pen and securing it to the ground so that chick couldn't get out, even with the help of the parents). The next day we got the chick and brought him to the pen. It was early in the morning. We figured we'd spend all day watching the pen and make sure the parents found him and joined him inside. After about an hour the dad showed up foraging just outside the pen. Perfect! Not so much. Despite the loud calls coming from the chick, the dad couldn't find him. Not that he tried very hard. He did not even check inside the pen. Disheartening. But we didn't loose hope. However, for the rest of the day, the parents were nowhere in sight. By late afternoon they showed up again, but still stayed just outside the pen, never flying inside, thus not knowing the chick was there. Frustrating. Had to let the chick out of the pen and hope that he would join up with the parents.

We were going to give them a few days and then try again. However, when we returned to check on them, the chick was gone. There are simply too many predators in that area. He didn't have a chance since he wasn't in the protection of the pen. We know the chick is gone, because both parents were seen together (in the pen, feeding, no less. baaaaaaaaah) and the chick was nowhere in sight. Very sad and very frustrating.

Other than that one, we have had a couple similar experiences. For whatever reason, these barriers do not seem to be working. Perhaps the parents are disconcerted by the fact that when they are inside, they cannot see out (it is dark material so that predators cant
FB parents, outside penFB parents, outside penFB parents, outside pen

:( so frustrating. we nick-named the dad (crane 447) dead-beat dad
see in, but we hadn't thought about the cranes not being able to see out).

This coming week (aka tomorrow) we are going to check out one other barrier situation. On friday we had the family together in the barrier but on sunday there was no one in sight so it isn't very promising. If that one didn't work, we are going to have to do some serious brainstorming in order to figure out what to try next. There are still a few active nests and some of them are quite important genetically so we'd really like the eggs to survive. We may end up bringing most, if not all of them, to the audobon center to be raised there and then brought back to us. We shall see.

Despite the frustration with loosing chicks, things have been good. Ingrid and I do a lot on our own now, even going out to visit nests by ourselves. The other day we went to one together in order to see if there was a hatch or if it was predated. Turns out the nest was most likely predated, since we found no shells anywhere, and there was scat on
firetower twinsfiretower twinsfiretower twins

second chick I ever held was one of these guys. neither of them made it. sad. :(
the nest. However, we should be able to tell for certain by looking on the nest camera to see what it picked up. Those are such a neat thing to have!

Last thursday I had ATV training. It was intense. Definitely not my cup of tea, but I survived and passed the class. So now I am certified to drive ATVs! 😊 Yet another skill that this job has provided me with. So fantastic.

Side note: I have been living in an apartment for the past 2+ weeks. It has been lovely. But the new bunk house on our refuge is basically finished, so we will be moving in there the end of this week (probably friday or saturday). I'll let ya'll know how it is once I've moved in. 😊 At least that should be my last time having to move until the internship is over. Phew!

One last thing. I am adding a bunch of pics to this entry. Some from stuff I talked about, but some are just random pics of plants and other wildlife on the refuge, plus some of other chicks from the past month or 2. Also, I added some pictures to previous entries, if you would like to check those out as well 😊

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16



very rare, but found everywhere on the refuge
pitcher plantspitcher plants
pitcher plants

also very rare but prolific on refuge
bald eaglebald eagle
bald eagle

I have seen a few since arriving here
same turtlesame turtle
same turtle

such a cutie

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