July 1, 2001
The ten Whooping crane chicks that have been raised at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland will soon be learning to fly. Lead pilot Joe Duff explains why the cranes will be soon be relocated to Wisconsin, the chosen summer home and breeding grounds for this new flock of wild whoopers:
"Earlier research has shown us that birds can be raised at a captive breeding center, such as Patuxent or the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin, and then transported to the site selected for their introduction, as long as the move takes place before they learn to fly. They seem to focus on the first location they can explore from the air and are driven to return there year after year. The site of their fledging will eventually become their nesting grounds.
With cranes this is true, at least for the males. When they reach breeding age, male birds in a wild population will pair bond with an unattached female from a different flock and lead them back to the area of their origin. Accordingly, his female siblings will bond with males from other regions and follow them north to their preferred habitat. This simple gender preference guarantees the distribution of the genetic lines and minimizes inbreeding."
Try This! Link to Lesson
How did crane experts decide where the cranes' new breeding grounds would be? Explore this question and all its environmental issues with our simulation activity, suitable for grades 7-12.
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