Answers from the Whooping Crane
|Questions and Answers|
From: Radisson, Saskatchewan
Q: I live at Radisson, Sakatchewan. When will the Whooping crane be returning this way & where should I look to see them. What is their fly zone?
A: Tom Stehn reported one bird bearing a radio transmitter had already crossed the border (just barely) by April 15. The snow storms in the Midwest are delaying progress, but I’d be watching for them.
From: Garrison-Jones Elementary School, Florida
Q: Who are the Whooping cranes ancestors?
A: Typical Cranes first appeared in the fossil record from the Miocene, 5–24 million years ago. The Tree of Life project is working out relationships based on genetic studies, and we’re going to learn interesting things as the project progresses. You can learn about it at their website.
Q: How long is the beak of a Whooping crane, and how much does the crane weigh when fully grown?
A: The average length of the culmen, or upper ridge of the bill, is 138.5 mm in males and 136.7 in females. This is about 5 1⁄2 inches. The weight of adult cranes in fall is about 15 1⁄2 pounds to almost 17 1⁄2 pounds. Their maximum weight is usually a little heavier than that, in mid-winter, after they’ve recovered from fall migration while blue crabs are still relatively abundant.
From: Epiphany Catholic School, MN
Q: When cranes are migrating, do their eating habits change?
A: During winter, Whooping Cranes feed mostly in estuaries, mostly on blue crabs and clams, and move to upland areas that were flooded or burned, exposing acorns, snails, mice, voles, crayfish, grasshoppers, and snakes. When they leave Texas, they must switch to a freshwater diet of frogs, fish, plant tubers, crayfish, and aquatic insects; and also on insects and waste grains in harvested fields. Once they reach their breeding grounds, they’ll be eating mollusks, crustaceans, aquatic insects, minnows, frogs, and snakes.
Q: Can the male cranes fly faster than the female?
A: That’s doubtful. Most of the time a pair flies together and matches their speeds. Males are larger, but also heavier, so their maximum flight speed is probably similar to that of females.
Q: What is the best thing about your job?
A: I wish I worked directly with Whooping Cranes! But I love my own job of writing about and photographing birds. I get to meet and talk with people who work on cranes during migration, on their wintering grounds, and on their breeding grounds!
Q: What triggers Whooping crane migration?
A: Increasing daylength during late winter and early spring makes birds restless, and their hormones start to surge. The first birds to leave Aransas are usually experienced pairs. They may have been dancing for several weeks, which “revs them up” for breeding, so they are in more of a hurry to return to their nesting areas. But as antsy as they may be to migrate, they usually wait for favorable weather weather conditions to make their long flights.
From: United Kingdom (UK)
Do you know what the period for imprinting in whooping cranes is?
Q: : I know this is nothing to do with Whooping cranes but... What can be done or make the most impact by "we the people" to stop the hunting of Sand Hill Cranes in Kentucky? Or do you agree with this new hunting practice as a legitimate way to keep the population in check.
is my opinion: The population of Sandhill Cranes is strong and growing
it doesn’t need to be kept “in check” by
hunting any more than the population of robins does. In many states
Sandhill Cranes have staged a wonderful comeback during recent decades
thanks to contributions people have made to organizations like the
International Crane Foundation and to state non-game wildlife programs.
It’s ironic to ask people to contribute money to support nongame
wildlife and then, when those nongame species recover to healthy
population numbers, suddenly name them a game species. Ironically,
in autumn, 2010, Minnesota opened a hunting season on Sandhill Cranes
in the Northwest Region of the state. This is exactly the part of
the state where Sandhill Cranes are the “poster child” for