Midwest Region


WCEP Media Advisory
June 15, 2010
Contact: Joan Garland, 608-381-1262

Six Wild Whooping Crane Chicks Currently Being Raised by Reintroduced Crane Pairs in Wisconsin!

The Whooping Crane Eastern Partn ership’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-sea son nests and four renests have left us with six whooping crane chicks on and around Necedah Na tional Wildlife Refuge (NWR) .

One of the chicks came from an egg p roduced by the captive flock at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center .  The e gg was swapped into a nest which contained two infer tile eggs.  The chick hatched the next day and is still doing well.

Another wild-hatched pair of chicks repre sents a project milestone: the first chick hatched by a DAR (Direct Autumn Release) bird.  Biologists hope to see many more chicks hatched by DAR paren ts as the majority of DAR birds begin to reach breeding age.
(Editor’s note: Medium-res. photos of the crane chicks and adult birds are available on request.)
Whooping cranes are long-lived birds tha t may start nesting attempts at three to five years of age, and can con tinue hatching eggs and rearing chicks past the age of 30.

Since 2001, WCEP project partner Operation Migration’s pilo ts have led whooping crane chicks, conditioned to f ollow their ultralight aircraft surrogates, south from Necedah NWR to Chas sahowitzka NWR, and since 2008, to St. Marks NWR, in Florida.  Having bee n shown the way once, the young birds initiate their return migration i n the spring, and in subsequent years, continue to migrate on their own.

In addition to the ultralight-led birds, bi ologists from the International Crane Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildl ife Service rear whooping crane chicks at Necedah NWR and release them in t he company of older cranes from whom the young birds learn the migration route.  This is the sixth year WCEP has used this Direct Autumn Release method.

Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership foundin g members are the International Crane Foundation, Operation Migration , Inc., Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildli fe Service, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Cent er and National Wildlife Health Center, the National Fish and Wildlife Founda tion, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, and the Intern ational Whooping Crane Recovery Team.

For more information on the project and its partners, visit the WCEP website at: .


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Last updated: June 15, 2016