Six wild whopping crane chicks being raised by reintroduced crane pairs in Wisconsin
From press release
The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership’s efforts to establish a self-sustaining population of migratory whooping cranes in the Eastern Flyway had a great boost this year with the successful hatching of whooping crane chicks into the wild. Three late-season nests and four renests have left us with six whooping crane chicks on and around Necedah National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).
One of the chicks came from an egg produced by the captive flock at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. The egg was swapped into a nest which contained two infertile eggs. The chick hatched the next day and is still doing well.
Another wild-hatched pair of chicks represents a project milestone: the first check hatched by a DAR (Direct Autumn Release) bird. Biologists hope to see many more chicks hatched by DAR parents as the majority of DAR birds begin to reach breeding age.
Whooping cranes are long-lived birds that may start nesting attempts at 3 to 5 years of age, and can continue hatching eggs and rearing checks past the age of 30.
Since 2001, WCEP project partner Operation Migration’s pilots have led whooping crane chicks, conditioned to follow their ultralight aircraft surrogates, south from Necedah NWR to Chassahowitzka NWR, and since 2008, to St. Marks NWR in Florida. Having been shown the way once, the young birds initiate their return migration in the spring, and in subsequent years, continue to migrate on their own.
In addition to the ultralight-led birds, biologists from the International Crane Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rear whooping crane chicks at Necedah NWR and release them in the company of older cranes from whom the young birds learn the migration route. This is the sixth route WCEP has used this Direct Autumn Release method.
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership founding members are the International Crane Foundation, Operation Migration, Inc., Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and National Wildlife Health Center, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, and the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team.
For more information on the project and its partners, visit the WCEP Web site at: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org.
From the June 30-July 6, 2010 issue
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