Dear Journey North,
I just got
back from Kansas and the south winds were really howling up there across
the plains. Those winds would push anything north.
Injured Chick at Aransas NWR
am not doing a census flight at Aransas this week due to no time
in my schedule,
but I do know about one juvenile whooping crane that is
still here. This "chick" was reported on April 2 by a graduate
student as acting very lethargic and with a very swollen head and upper
neck. We started daily monitoring of the bird, done especially by the
Whooping Crane Tour Boat Captain Tommy Moore who runs his boat named
the Skimmer. The chick was not eating. It spent most of its
time actually sitting down in the marsh, something cranes rarely do
are sitting on nests. One day we thought the chick had died since we
could not find it at all, but it apparently was just sitting down in
and hidden by tall vegetation. I have never seen a head and neck so
swollen on a whooping crane. It was about 1 and one-third normal size.
The chick kept its head
cocked to the side, and couldn't raise its bill up.
photo was taken about 10 days after the injury, so it doesn't
really show the severely swollen neck, but you can see the cocked
of the head and swelling at the base of the neck."
Photo Tom Stehn, USFWS
Trying to Help
to catch the chick, but it was alert enough to walk away from us and maintain
its distance. Its parents stayed close to
it and protected
it. After about a week, we saw the parents bring a small blue
crab over to the chick and the chick-- with difficulty--swallowed it.
Slowly the swelling
went down. The chick became a little more active. By April
14, the chick was catching and eating blue crabs on its own.
Parents Leave on Migration
day, April 15, the
parents began migration and the chick stayed behind. I'm
sure the chick still doesn't feel well enough to migrate, but it is
day. Once its parents left, Tommy Moore put corn out for
the chick, although we haven't seen it taking any corn. It seems to
crabs, its favorite food. At this point we don't know if
the chick will spend
all summer here at Aransas, or migrate back to Canada on
its own. Either way, it should be fine.
What Happened to Injure This Chick?
We think one of two things happened. Tommy Moore got really close
to the chick and saw caked blood at the base of its skull. We think
hit it with its talons (possibly a great horned owl), or else a snake
bit the chick. It was so sick, and yet has come through.
looking so much better. I'll keep you posted as to how this chick
Whooping Crane Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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