Many have written to inquire about the status of the cranes since the end of the migration. I apologize for the delay but now back at work we haven't had the means or time to keep things posted although there have been some significant events.
The first few days after landing at Bosque went very well. Kent put one of the decoys that the birds were familiar with on a sandbar in the river. This kept them company and provided a degree of security at night. For the first few days he parked his four-wheeler (another security blanket) in the feeding area. Within a couple of days the cranes were flying to the feeding areas in the day and roosting in the river at night with little problem. The crane that was attacked had some problem flying with the others for the first couple of days but was soon hanging with the rest. It probably just took her a few more days to get over her injuries.
Each year there is a one day sandhill crane 'hunt' where given the proper tags and license cranes can be killed. Unfortunately, one of the sandhills had integrated with the wild flock and wandered off the refuge for the day - it never came back. At the checkpoint one of the hunters turned in the band and transmitters - apparently he couldn't see the bright yellow bands with the several inch bright yellow transmitter mounts.
The birds continued to integrate into the wild while Kent monitored them. After about two weeks habitat patterns were predictable and seemed to be safe. There is one old whooping crane that has migrated to Bosque for the past several years alone. On a couple of occasions, the young whoopers flew over the mingled with the veteran. It was interesting to not that there appeared to be some bond or recognition between the species.
Kent returned to Idaho to tie up some winter loose ends on the farm and prepare for his presentation at the yearly 'Festival of the Cranes' held at the Bosque Refuge. Shortly after his return to the refuge, another tragedy occurred. It is hard to piece together the events but it appears that one of the cranes was spooked during the night and flew from the saftey of the roost on the river. One of the hundreds of coyotes on the refuge was able to take it down for his dinner. All that was left of one of the whooping cranes were the bands and a few bones.