News Release: First wild whoopers hatch in 2015; record nests spur hopes of more young
NECEDAH, WI - The first wild whooping crane chicks have hatched in Wisconsin and are lifting hopes that a record number of Wisconsin nests may yield more chicks this year and increase the chances they’ll survive and eventually help build a self-sustaining population of endangered whooping cranes in eastern North America.
A chick hatched on May 3 and at least three more hatched over the Mother’s Day weekend, all at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. More chicks are expected to hatch in the coming weeks, potentially adding up to one of the best years given a record 31 nests in Wisconsin this spring, according to reports by researchers using airplanes and ground observations to monitor nests.
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Project Update: April 1 to May 4, 2015
Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 95 birds (53 males, 42 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period included 90 whooping cranes in Wisconsin, 1 in Illinois, 1 in Michigan, 1 in Indiana, 1 in Kentucky and 1 at an unknown location or not recently reported. Two long term missing birds are now considered dead and have been removed from the population totals above.
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2015 Nesting Summary through April (PDF)
Project Update: April 16 and 18, 2015
WCEP Field Tracking Manager Eva Szyszkoski was able to get two survey flights (courtesy of Windway Capital) in over the past week. Flights occurred on April 16 and 18 and focused on the current reintroduction area, known as the Wisconsin Rectangle and the former reintroduction area of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.
Update: Report from First Year Results.
Effects of Forced Renesting on Reproduction of a Reintroduced Population of Whooping Crane (Grus americana)
Report Prepared April 2015
After 13 years of Whooping Crane releases in the eastern U.S., the population’s survival rate, migration behavior, habitat selection, pair formation and egg production all appear to be sufficient to allow a self-sustaining population. Unfortunately, reproduction is near 0 and the population is not self-sustaining. In 2013, all first crane nests on federally-owned property abandoned shortly after parasitic flies were detected on the landscape. Within the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP), whooping crane nest abandonment typically occurs synchronously and appears to coincide with the emergence of parasitic insects (Urbanek et al. 2010, Converse et al. 2013). In 2010, the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership’s (WCEP) Research and Science Team explored 2 potential strategies to increase the reproductive success of the EMP. The first strategy included a management action to eliminate or greatly reduce the local population of parasitic insects to simultaneously evaluate the effect of the treatment on whooping crane reproductive success and the feasibility of the strategy being used as a long-term management action. The second strategy (hereafter, Forced Renesting) included directly managing the whooping crane nests by salvaging `eggs from nests with ‘low’ probability of success to encourage pairs to nest a second time when the probability of nest success is higher.
2015 Nesting Season
April 14, 2015
Our partners at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge report a total of 52 w--hooping cranes have been detected on the Refuge. Several pairs have been observed unison calling, foraging, preening, and displaying territorial behavior (i.e. chasing sandhills). Weather on the refuge has been moderate with large amounts of rain. Although we do not expect any nests have been lost, the water level in several pools with nesting cranes has rapidly increased.
10 whooping crane pairs have been observed incubating.
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Project Update: March 1 to 31, 2015
Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 99 birds (53 males, 46 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period included 72 whooping cranes in Wisconsin, 4 in Indiana, 2 in Alabama, 6 in Florida, 13 at unknown locations or not recently reported and 2 long term missing. The total for Florida includes 5 juveniles at the release pen.
Project Update: February 1 to 28, 2015
Maximum size of the eastern migratory population at the end of the report period was 100 birds (53 males, 47 females). Estimated distribution at the end of the report period included 22 whooping cranes in Indiana, 7 in Kentucky, 7 in Tennessee, 27 in Alabama, 3 in Georgia, 14 in Florida, 18 at unknown locations or not recently reported and 2 long term missing. The total for Florida includes 7 newly released juveniles.