Last weekend we attended the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Festival in Woodward, OK. Because of the significant loss of chickens, habitat and food source due to the wildfires in western KS and OK earlier this year, there is concern for the continued survival of this very range-limited species. While it was open to anyone, everyone in the bus who saw the chickens (we saw 10 males!) was asked to not pin the exact location in eBird but put in a general location. Over 8 days of the festival a few pins were put in but all followed the instructions. It seemed reasonable to us and I was glad to help keep the location unknown for the time being to help minimize risk to them. But, anyone could have signed up for the festival.
From: The Birds of Arkansas Discussion List <ARBIRD-L...> on behalf of David Oakley <gdosr...>
Sent: Monday, May 1, 2017 10:18 PM
Subject: Re: Whoopers
I for one did not know all the details of this story until Karen Rowe laid out all facts with her post to Arbird. All I knew was some were seeing the birds and the location was not put out. I think Herschel pretty much sums up this entire discussion as it relates to these particular birds and I agree with him totally. He stated "I don’t think their positions should be reported at all."
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4779 Cedar Ridge Drive
Springdale, AR 72764
At the risk of annoying someone, I will say that equating these Whooping Cranes that are part of the re-establishment program which are highly monitored and very human adapted with your normal rare bird sighting is a grave miscategorization. These birds require special care as they are just beginning to perform actual migration feats that make any sense and to nest on their return north. Frankly I don’t think their positions should be reported at all. And I would be on the committee that voted for moving any of them that stayed in the location these recent birds chose for a sustained stay. I received photos of the birds with their leg equipment, antennas and frightening background of rural homesteads and lawns with highway. Hell I would have moved them myself with a sack of corn and a roomy trailer in the dark of night if I could have pulled it off. Hauled them out to Big Lake. Though Lord knows what the satellite monitoring boys would have thought. “Jim, these two look like they are travelling at 65 mph about eight feet off the ground in the dark towards the Mississippi.” No doubt I would have been busted.
I went thirty years ago to south Texas and watched adult and juvenile Whoopers out in the marshes they winter in from the safety of a boat. It was a fine landscape. These regal wild birds choose generally regal places to stay. These new birds don’t know. But perhaps their children will. Seeing these two recent birds in just the photos reminded me of how broken the world is. And I had no desire to see them in that condition or location.
In any case, accusing the birders of Arkansas of colluding to hide rarities, struck me as misinformed. And when the first wild adult Whooper wanders away from the Platte River corridor and shows up at Millwood or the coastal plain or the fields along the Mississippi you can bet Kenny or LaDonna or Charles or Richard or Joe will inform people that they have arrived.
And then I would go.
The website for the project (you know, if you want to give them some money):