I feel like this project is all about numbers. During
this time of year I’m not in the field as much, so it’s
harder to keep track of everything that’s going
on — even though my interns keep me very well informed. When
in the field during the fall and winter I become completely immersed
in the daily movements and activities of all the birds. I could
tell you where every bird is located. But now that I’m mainly
working at ICF with our captive whooping cranes, and it’s
harder to keep track of every individual in the WCEP population.
This is also an incredibly busy time of year. Birds
are completing migration. Older birds are pairing up and nesting.
Even after the juveniles arrive in Wisconsin, they wander all over
the place. We call it "spring wandering," a phenomenon
previously undocumented in cranes.
reintroduced population currently numbers 72 individual birds. I
recently spent a few minutes counting up all the numbers to help
myself figure out where all the birds were. I thought I’d
share that with you as a good way to wrap up the season. (There
will surely be changes and more news throughout the rest of the
spring and summer!)
known to be back plus #735 (incapable of flight), who
remains in a pen on the refuge. Of
the 58 free flying whooping cranes that are known to be here,
34 are on the Necedah NWR. Ten older birds are
close by in areas surrounding
the refuge, and 13 are the 2007 ultralight juveniles who are
wandering around WI.
||#516 is still here, as of April 30th. He now holds the record
for staying in FL the latest before beginning spring migration.(
Last year he and #509 tied
for that record.). Our colleagues who work with the non-migratory
Whooping Cranes in FL are monitoring him for us when they
do flights to check on their birds. It’s strange
that he’s still in FL but he appears to be fine so
we’ll keep watching and waiting.
six 2007 DAR birds are all here. One group of 5 is together
in Tuscola County and the 6th bird (40-07)
recently arrived in Mason or Manistee County. As we’ve
done in the past, we’ll plan to try and retrieve
the DAR birds and bring them back to Wisconsin. A
2005 crane has returned to Michigan for her third summer.
locations of only 5 birds in the entire population are
unknown. They include
#727 and 733, who were known to get
to IN and IL before being left behind as other birds were
tracked into WI.
why it’s hard to keep track of everything? Luckily Richard,
Colleen, Anna, and Eva do a fantastic job tracking all of these
birds and keeping us all informed.
care and have a great summer.
Sara Zimorski, Aviculturalist
Eva's great photos in the main report. Here's another: Male
#216 gives the alarm call.
Photo Eva Szyszkoski
Check the nest update!
had a total of 11 nests so far this spring. One of them (#209,
416) had already failed by the time Richard Urbanek did the first
April 14th. Crane #209 has
an injured right leg so that pair is not likely to re-nest.
the remaining 10 nests, 9 of them are on the Necedah NWR
and 1 is off
the nest of #505 & 415 failed on
April 30 (small pieces of eggshell were found in the nest).
While it’s disappointing, it’s not necessarily
surprising; this pair just formed this winter and neither
bird had previous
nesting experience. We’ve all got our fingers crossed
for some of the remaining nests to hatch — the first
of which should hatch next week!