North American Crane Working Group


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Urbanek, Richard P., and Theodore A. Bookhout. "Development of an Isolation-Rearing/Gentle Release Procedure for Reintroducing Migratory Cranes.", In: Stahlecker D. W., ed. 1992. Proceedings of the Sixth North American Crane Workshop, Oct. 3-5, 1991, Regina, Sask. (Grand Island, NE.: North American Crane Working Group, 1992), 120-130.


Conference co-sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Service, Saskatchewan Parks and Renewable Resources Department, and the Whooping Crane Conservation Association, Canadian Council. Proceedings used by permission of the North American Crane Working Group.


During 1988 -90, in an effort to develop a reintroduction technique for the whooping crane (Grus americana), we reared 38 greater sandhill crane chicks (G. canadensis tabida) in isolation from humans and gentle-released them on Seney National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Chicks were reared in the field with a puppet/costume technique. After chicks completed acclimation to wild conditions in a release pen, we induced them to migrate by breaking their flock into small groups, translocating some groups, and using guide birds. Solutions to migration initiation problems encountered in 1988-89 were developed and then successfully tested on an additional cohort in 1990. For 38 chicks released in 1988-90, minimum survival, 1 year after release, was 84%, minimum return rate to Upper Michigan was 74%, and estimated return rate was 97 %. Return rates were similar for males and females.