North American Crane Working Group


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Urbanek, R.P., L.A. Fondow, C.D. Satyshur, A.E. Lacy, S.E. Zimorski, and M. Wellington. First cohort of migratory whooping cranes reintroduced to eastern North America: the first year after release. 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. 213-224.


Reproduced by permission of the NACWG.


We describe the post-release movements and survival of the first cohort in the eastern migratory whooping crane (Grus americana) reintroduction from release the first winter through return the second winter. Six cranes were led behind ultralight aircraft from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Central Wisconsin, to Chassahowitzka NWR, Gulf Coast of Florida. After release in Florida, 1 of these cranes and another transported there by truck were killed by bobcats (Lynx rufus). The winter management protocol was modified and no further predation occurred. The 5 remaining cranes migrated unassisted back to Necedah NWR in spring, left the refuge during a spring wandering period, and then 4 returned to Necedah NWR to spend the summer. All 5 birds migrated back to Florida to winter, and 4 returned at least initially to Chassahowitzka NWR or adjacent salt marsh before 3 dispersed to suitable habitat inland. One yearling remained at Chassahowitzka NWR with the newly released juveniles from the second year’s release. Of the other 4 birds, 2 wintered separately with sandhill cranes (G. canadensis) in northern Florida, and 2 wintered as a pair on ranchland 62 km from the original winter release site. After the bobcat predation problem was solved, the subsequent survival, migration, summering, and wintering of these reintroduced whooping cranes were favorable for a successful reintroduction.