Whooping Crane Partnership Hopes To Continue Growing Chick Numbers

Despite Record Survival Rate, 21 Chicks Died At Necedah Refuge

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (CC-BY)

Whooping crane researchers say there’s been a new high in the number of crane chicks that have fledged their nest at a site in central Wisconsin but many more chicks died.

According to the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, three of the young cranes that hatched at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge this year have left the nest and are likely to migrate south this fall. Three in one year is a new record for the effort that’s trying to increase the size of the migrating whooping crane flock in the eastern U.S.

But state Department of Natural Resources conservation biologist Davin Lopez said 21 other chicks hatched and eventually disappeared.

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“We were really hoping for a greater number of chicks to fledge given the really high number of chicks that hatched this year,” he said. “It was about a 12-percent fledging rate, which is lower than we really want to see.”

Lopez said predators such as otters or coyotes may have carried off the other young birds and that the partnership is investigating.

Lopez said adult cranes didn’t abandon nests this year because the black flies that have bothered many birds in previous years weren’t in high numbers this summer.