North American Crane Working Group


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Johns, B.W., J.P. Goossen, E. Kuyt, and L. Craig-Moore. Philopathry and dispersal in whooping cranes. In Chavez-Ramirez, F, ed. 2005. Proceedings of the Ninth North American Crane Workshop, Jan 17-20, 2003. Sacramento, California: North American Crane Working Group. Pp. 117-126


Reproduced by permission of the NACWG.


The natal and breeding dispersal of endangered whooping cranes (Grus americana) was investigated using information collected between 1978-2002 on the nesting grounds in and near Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta-Northwest Territories. A minimum of 77% of the juveniles color-banded near their natal sites returned to the breeding grounds. Sex-biased natal dispersal was not observed. At least 76% of first-time breeders nested within 20 km of their natal site. Pioneering was rare and most cranes nested on the primary nesting areas adjacent to the Sass and Klewi rivers. The mechanism enhancing natal philopatry is probably related to learning the migration route from parents, conspecifics and/or congeners. Strong breeding site fidelity and natal philopatry as well as limited dispersal behavior presently ensure that most cranes will return to the current nesting grounds.