North American Crane Working Group


Date of this Version


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Gomez, G.M., R.C. Drewien, and M.L. Courville. Historical notes on whooping cranes at White Lake, Louisiana: the John. J Lynch Interviews, 1947-1948. 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. 111-116.


Reproduced by permission of the NACWG.


In May 1939 biologist John J. Lynch of the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey conducted an aerial survey that documented the existence of a non-migratory population of whooping cranes (Grus americana) near White Lake in southwest Louisiana. Lynch found 13 cranes, including 2 pre-fledged young, confirming breeding. Lynch’s survey occurred, in part, because fur trappers and alligator hunters working in the White Lake marshes had informed the biologist of the cranes’ presence and habits. Lynch continued his contacts with these knowledgeable marsh users, and in 1947 and 1948 interviewed at least 7 individuals. In 2001, M. L. Courville, along with her sister Nora Z. Lynch, discovered the interview notes among their father’s papers. The notes contain information on the Louisiana non-migratory population’s range, abundance, habitat use, feeding behavior, nesting, and young, including survival of twins; they also include a small amount of information on sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) and migratory whooping cranes. Both Lynch and Robert P. Allen relied heavily on this “traditional ecological knowledge” in their accounts of non-migratory whooping cranes in southwest Louisiana. Because of their biological and historical significance, the interview notes are reproduced in this paper. Many marsh users remain in the White Lake area, and their knowledge could aid future research and crane reintroduction efforts in the region.