Almost one month to the day after the birds arrived was the day the birds had long been waiting for (even though they didn’t know it)! Release Day from the pen!
On this date, Sara with the Coastal and Nongame Resources Division of LDWF and Tandi with LSU opened the door to the top netted acclimation pen where the birds had been since their arrival to the state on February 16th.
It took approximately ten minutes for the first bird to venture out of the netted pen. Some of the remaining birds had to be encouraged to leave the netted pen, either by the biologist or from their own curiosity seeing the other birds on the “outside world”. The birds were fascinated by their ability to flap their wings and gain vertical height. Once they realized nothing was between themselves and the open sky, one by one, they would take flight…circling around the pen and landing in the surrounding marshes. I had to keep reminding myself that these birds had never flown outside of a pen before! They took to the sky as if they were old pros and looked so graceful!
Not all of the birds ventured out of the acclimation pen that day, in fact, a couple remained within the top netted pen (despite the door being left open) for a couple of days after their release on the 14th.
What a truly humbling experience to watch this magnificent event unfold before your eyes!
Don’t forget to watch the video of this amazing day featured on the LDWF Whooping crane homepage.