Date of this Version
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN CRANE WORKSHOP 14:56-66
Whooping cranes (Grus americana) are 1 of the most endangered bird species in North America. In 1999 the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership was formed to establish a migratory population of whooping cranes in eastern North America. These efforts have been extremely successful in terms of adult survival but reproductive success post-release has been low. One hypothesis developed to explain such low reproductive success is that captive-rearing techniques fail to prepare the birds to be effective parents. Captive-reared whooping cranes at the U.S. Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, Maryland, are either reared by humans in crane costumes or by surrogate conspecific adults. We hypothesized that the 2 captive-rearing techniques differentially shaped chick behavior. To test this, we measured chick behavior daily as well as when chicks were placed in novel environments. Twice per day, every day, 5-minute focal observations were conducted on each chick. When they were introduced to a novel environment, 10-minute focal observations were conducted within 1 hour of introduction. The 2 groups differed significantly: costume-reared chicks were, on average, more stationary than parent-reared birds. These data suggest that future research should be done to determine whether or not rearing technique could have longterm effects on post-release behavior and reproductive success.