It’s been too long since The Badger & the Whooping Crane has mentioned any news about the cranes, themselves, in a post – over a month! To remedy that, I offer this one about the three new wild chicks – they are now fledglings! they can fly! – that are still surviving from this spring’s bountiful, record-breaking crop of 24 chicks that hatched in Wisconsin.
By mid July it was clear that only 3 chicks – of the record 24 hatched – were surviving. Last week I heard it confirmed on Wisconsin Public Radio, by Anne Lacey of the International Crane Foundation that the three have continued to survive, and have fledged. Anne did an excellent job addressing the threats that await whooper chicks, and hence, the low chick survival numbers. She was a guest of Glen Moberg, the host on Aug. 21st for the Joy Cardin Show. You can hear that broadcast, if you’d like, at the link.
The chicks – or now the fledglings, are: W3-15 (Wild One #3 of 3015); W10-15, and W18-15. Make a note of that youngest fledgling, #18, because that chick belongs to the most successful parenting duo of these Wisconsin cranes (also known as the Eastern Migratory Population, or the EMP). The successful parents, #9 of ’03 (the female) and #3 of ’04, have, to date, hatched and raised three chicks to the point of fledging. I wrote some biographical details of this pair in a June 5th post (scroll down to “A Veteran Whooper Parenting Pair”).
Editor’s Note: Above is a wonderful photo of w18-15 and its parents that was taken August 15th from the observation tower at Necedah NWR, by Jana Lood. Jana, who lives in Illinois, told me she has visited Necedah multiple times and has seen whooping cranes there a number of times, though not every time “It was all sheer luck,” she said. “This was my first time at the tower, and it was a last-minute, lucky, decision to go up there.” She added that the family was visible to the naked eye, though binoculars, of course are a help to see more details. She used a 50-500 lens for this picture.
Two More Wild Whooper Families
The most mature of the fledglings is w3-15. This fledgling hatched at or near Necedah NWR on May 11th, to a first time parent pair, female #17 of ’07 and male #10 of ’09. The pair had previously nested together in 2012 and again in 2014, but no chick hatched from either attempt.
Fledgling w10-15 is the first chick to hatch for pair 25-09 (the female) and #2 of ’04. This is a fairly new pair, only together since last fall. At that time they were presented with a chick to foster. The chick, designated #27 of 2014 had been hatched and raised by a captive pair at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland.
After fledging, 27-14 was brought to Wisconsin and released near the adult pair (25-09 and 2-04) who successfully fostered it. Now a yearling female, 27-14 continues to do well on her own, and her foster parents are so far, successful with their very own new fledgling, #w10 of 2015!
Fledglings are the Hope of the EMP
While the low numbers of survival for the EMP chicks is a serious concern for the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, Anne Lacey reported on The Joy Cardin Show, that many things have gone right for this re-introduction of the species into Wisconsin, including learning to migrate well, and maturing and forming pair bonds. There are reproduction goals, though, not yet achieved. The three surviving chicks of 2013 represent a record number of fledglings and something else as well. That “something else” is high hopes that the EMP, little-by-little will continue to grow.