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Mr and Mrs Dave

Mr. and Mrs. Dave

Deceased: possibly depredation? Fall 2016 and Spring 2017

Alpha Flag Codes: CJ and JM
Capture dates:  Dave May 2014, Carol May 2016
Sex: Mated Pair
Location: Dave spent 2014 and 2015 on MPG Ranch near Florence, MT. In 2016 Dave relocated to Dillon, MT and met Mr. Carol!

Namesakes: While spending a few frustrating days searching for nests at MPG Ranch, Jay and Heidi became familiar with a certain curlew who always seemed to spend time near a gravel parking area on the ranch. For a while we simply called it “parking lot” but later decided to give it a name. Judging by bill size we assumed it was a male, and so we called it “Parking Lot Dave”. A few days later we found a nest nearby and were able to trap the female. She had the shortest bill we had seen on any of the females on the ranch. We released her and continued to search for more nests in the area. Later that day, we were surprised when “Dave” showed up in his regular spot, but this time wearing a transmitter! Dave was a girl! We thought about changing her name, but somehow “Dave” stuck.

a curlew sits in a mesh tent as a biologist peers in from the outside
Jay and Dave have a moment while testing the fit of her transmitter. By refusing to walk in the tent, she’s telling us it doesn’t fit right. Photo by William Blake

Dave nested on MPG Ranch near Florence, MT during the 2014 and 2015 nesting seasons. We tried trapping her mate both years but her nest failed in 2014 and hatched in 2015 before we could trap him (we can only trap curlews when they are sitting tight on a nest).

In 2016 Dave did something we’ve never seen any other curlew do. She migrated north to MPG Ranch as usual, spent only a few days, and then turned around and flew south! We think she may have returned and not found her mate there. So, she headed for a ranch near Dillon, MT, which she had visited during fall migration in 2015. Apparently while using it as a stopover site she realized that it could be a good location to breed!

In May Jay traveled to the ranch and found Dave nesting with a new male. We were able to trap him and give him a transmitter. While scouting out the nest location, the ranching family suggested to Jay that since Dave had a boy’s name, maybe we should give her mate a girls name. Off the top of her head, she suggested “why don’t we name him Carol or something?”. Jay laughed….our long-time volunteers and friends, the Wikes, are named Dave and Carol! After that, there was no doubt that we had to name him Carol. So, there we have it: a girl named Dave and a boy named Carol :)

Migration is risky business and is not always successful. Unfortunately, our curlews Dave and Carol never completed their migratory journeys. In 2016, Dave left her nesting area in Montana and was heading towards her wintering grounds when we noticed her “dot” stopped moving on the satellite tracking map on a treacherous stretch of the eastern rim of the Grand Canyon where it still rests today near Lake Mead. Because of the dangerous location, Dave’s transmitter is unrecoverable, therefore her cause of death remains a mystery. (A few of our other curlews that turned up dead on cliff edges were eaten by Peregrine Falcons).

a biologist holds a curlew wearing a green leg flag that says JM
Jay checks Carol over before releasing him

Carol perished during his migration to his MT breeding grounds in the spring of 2017 in a wilderness area just outside of Cedar City, Utah. While checking the satellite tracking map, we noticed no movement of Carol’s “dot”. The Curlew Crew was able to recover the transmitter months later, and evidence suggested Carol had presumably been killed by a falcon but we couldn’t say for sure.