The Sad News
Since my last report, all of the nests have
failed or been abandoned. On May 5 after my flight confirmed that
had failed or been abandoned, Richard Urbanek visited each one.
He recovered one egg from each of 3 nests. Eva and Colleen brought
them to me at ICF late
on May 5. On May 6 Richard brought
5 more eggs that he'd collected from the nests of the last 3
had abandoned earlier in the day. Simple tests on all the eggs
showed us if they were fertile and if they were alive. In the end,
we had 4 eggs that were still alive.See more
about these tests:
The Good News!
On May 7 two crane pairs went back to their nests and began
incubating the dummy eggs we'd left in their nests. This was great
so we decided to put a real egg back in their nest. One of the
pairs did incubate the egg (which was now peeping) overnight, but
they again walked away from their nest in the morning. Once again
the egg was collected and brought down to ICF to be
But the egg won't stay here for long. On May 9 the four eggs from Necedah NWR
nests plus one fertile egg from a captive crane at ICF will be flown to Patuxent
in Maryland. There they will be hatched for the ultralight part of the Eastern
flock reintroduction. Two of the Necedah eggs are peeping and one has pipped,
which means it's made a tiny crack in the shell as it starts to hatch out. The
chick inside will continue to work on that crack until it makes a small hole,
after which it will start rotating and cracking the shell all around the top
of the egg so it can eventually push itself out. Five eggs will leave ICF, but
it may be one chick and 4 eggs by the time they get to Maryland!
Summing Up the Positives
We are all extremely disappointed, frustrated, puzzled,
etc. by all of the nest failures and abandonments. Even though we
don't know why the birds are abandoning
their nests, the birds did do some good things this spring. It's
important to remember the the positives:
- We had 11 pairs nest this spring and in the previous years
it was only 4 or 5 pairs.
- Many of these pairs were new pairs
and first-time nesters.
- Many of the pairs produced fertile
eggs, which indicates they're successfully mating. This is
also a good step.
- Here at
ICF we have 6 Whooping Crane eggs in addition to the one being
sent with the Necedah eggs. Our birds are really just
getting started, so we still expect a lot of whooper eggs.
need to remember these good things even as we struggle to try and
figure out what's
going wrong. This is, after all, still a big experiment
with a lot of unknowns. There's always more to learn!
Sara Zimorski, Aviculturalist
held up to a candler