thanks to ornithologist Laura
Erickson for providing her time and expertise in responding to your
From: South Dakota
Q: Please differentiate for me between whooping crane
and pelican migrations. I thought a flock of whoopers soared overhead
on April 2. They had a distinctive sound, I could hear them coming for
miles.They were white with black tips and rode the wind currents as
opposed to flying. What else should I know so I can make accurate reports.
The most important issues are where the black was on their wings and whether and how far the legs and neck jut out. With Whooping Cranes, the black is restricted to the wingtips.
Geese also fly in flocks and have white
wing tips. And they can be very noisy.
Q: Do they have to wear those bands? Isn't there a better way than those antennas to track them?
A: Researchers and conservationists wish there were! Technology has made wonderful progress in making transmitters ever tinier, and everyone at WCEP does their best to keep up with the latest advances. They also do their best to limit distress, discomfort, and inconvenience for the birds. But the antennas really don’t seem to bother them. And tracking them has proven very important for helping some of the birds when they’ve been in trouble, while never seeming to cause any real harm to any of them..
Q: Why don't they have chicks hatching in Wisconsin?
A: Actually, two chicks were raised in Wisconsin by Ultralight-trained Whooping Cranes, and one, #W601, a female, is doing well and courting. Since 2006, we've had bad weather on and off, but no one really knows why the last two years have had zero success with chicks. This year each breeding pair will be studied extremely closely. As of April 16 there were nine pairs attempting to nest in Wisconsin. They will all be monitored so if nests do fail again, we’ll get some clues about what is happening that is making them fail.
Q: Do you think the DAR birds, and also #107, who have not been hanging around with whooping cranes, will ever have chicks?
A: It’s hard to say. The one thing I’ve learned over many years of watching and studying birds is that they’re unpredictable. But if the birds don’t have close socialization with adult cranes, that will certainy reduce their chances of meeting and successfully courting a mate.