New Whooping Crane Flock Starts in Louisiana: 2011
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Wildlife biologist Carrie Salyers celebrates a historic day for conservation in Louisiana. In February 2011, Whooping cranes were back in Louisiana after an absence of more than 60 years!

Ten young whooping cranes were flown from Maryland to Louisiana, each in it own special box. But they weren't home yet! A boat ride finished the trip out to their watery new home on White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area.

These ten are the first birds of the new flock being started at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area. The location is about 125 miles west of New Orleans, in southwestern Louisiana. It’s great crane habitat, and Whooping cranes lived here long ago.

These Whooping crane chicks are probably glad to get out of their boxes! They were costume-reared in the captive breeding center, just like chicks who became part of the ultralight-led flock that spends summer in Wisconsin and winter in Florida. They have never seen humans who were not wearing costumes to hide their human form. It is best if wild cranes never get used to humans, or want to be near them.

Each chick was fitted with identifying legbands during the arrival health check. A little hood over their eyes kept them from seeing the humans, who took off their costumes for easier working during the exam and banding. Sara applies a legband while a helper holds the crane.

This chick is all set to be released. Its legs now have the color bands and a radio transmitter. You can see the antenna. The transmitters will help biologists track the movements of the birds. This is crane #9, whose banding code is BYR (blue/yellow/red).

Sara Zimorski (in costume) helps perform the health check. Sara moved from ICF in Wisconsin to Louisiana to become the head field person working with the Louisiana Whooping cranes.

The crane is now almost ready for release. What do you observe that shows this is a young crane?

The crane is handed off to another handler, who will carry the bird out to its new home.

Carrie and Sara take the bird to the pen. The fenced enclosure will keep the birds safe until they get used to being wild and free. What kind of habitat is here for the cranes?

This pen has a net on top so the birds can't fly away. The net will be taken off after two weeks so the birds can come and go. Do you see the bird stretching its wings?

The cranes take their first steps on Louisiana soil after an absence of more than 60 years.

The pen has food and fresh water supplies to help the cranes get started. They will have no trouble finding crabs in the marsh!

Thumbs up! Mission accomplished!

What would YOUR "Welcome Back to Louisiana Poster" look like?


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