In 2009 a fertile egg from the captive breeding stock was substituted for an infertile egg in the nest of Whooping Cranes 12-02 (12th hatched in 2002) and his mate 19-04. The chick hatched but disappeared after about a month. During the month the chick was observed I started a piece to honor the event. The working title was “Hope” but it was renamed “Too Fragile” after the chick’s disappearance.
In 2010 the International Crane Foundation again substituted a fertile egg for the pair’s infertile one. Chick W3-10 (third of 7 wild-hatched chicks in 2o1o) has migrated successfully with its parents. Unfortunately only two of the wild hatched chicks survived the summer. These are the first two wild-hatched chicks to survive since 2006 when W1-06 became the first wild hatched offspring of the eastern migratory flock. (Eggs collected from some abandon nests were incubated and hatched successfully. These birds learned their migratory route following Ultralight Aircraft through the efforts of Operation Migration.)
The Eastern Migratory Flock was established in 2001 when 10 juveniles followed the Ultralights to Florida and returned to Wisconsin on their own. The flock numbers 106 now but is in danger. On December 30, 2010 three juveniles #20-10, #24-10 and #28-10 found shot dead in Calhoun County, Georgia . Early this month #12-04, a 6-year old male whooping crane was found dead in Cherokee County, Alabama – also the victim of gunshot. Sadly, today it was reported that a juvenile Whooping Crane, #22-10 as found shot near the Georgia/Alabama border. The juveniles were part of the Direct Autumn Release program and were following adult cranes to their summer territories. Four of the 11 birds in this year’s program were shot!
The 10 juvenile cranes that followed the Ultralights are safely in Marks NWR and Chassahowitzka NWR in Florida where staff members from Operation Migration and the International Crane Foundation are supervising their release to the wild.
Please visit Operation Migration and the International Crane Foundation to learn about the establishment of an eastern migratory flock of the highly endangered Whooping Crane. You can read about each of the chicks raised in 2010 at Journey North.