First Cranes of the Class of 2009 Arrive at Necedah NWR, June 27, 2009

Conservation & Preservation

Eight whooping crane chicks arrived June 25 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge to begin preparation for their fall migration behind ultralight aircraft.


First Cranes of the Class of 2009 Arrive at Necedah NWR, June 27, 2009

Eight whooping crane chicks arrived June 25 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge to begin preparation for their fall migration behind ultralight aircraft.  The eight chicks are members of the “Class of 2009”, which will be the ninth group of endangered whooping cranes to take part in this reintroduction project.  

The chicks comprise the first cohort of young whooping cranes to arrive by private aircraft from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., where the birds hatched and learned to follow costumed biologists and ultralight aircraft on the ground.  Following a veterinarian checkup that showed that all of the birds were healthy, they were shipped to Necedah NWR in large crates, in aircraft provided by Windway Capital Corp.  A quick check by ICF veterinarians upon arrival showed that the birds were ready for their new home on Necedah NWR.  Two more cohorts of chicks will be shipped from Patuxent to Necedah NWR in a few weeks.

A field team from Operation Migration and the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center will spend the summer strengthening the social cohesion of the flock and teaching them to fly behind the ultralights.  This fall, Operation Migration will use ultralights to guide the young cranes on their first southward migration to Florida, the cranes’ winter home.

In addition to the ultralight-led birds, biologists from ICF and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are currently rearing several chicks at ICF for the Direct Autumn Release (DAR) program.  Later this summer, the chicks will be transferred to Necedah NWR and housed on the refuge.  This fall the chicks will be released in the company of older cranes from whom the young birds learn the migration route. 

 

Update by Joan Garland, ICF Education Outreach Coordinator/WCEP Communications & Outreach Co-chair.

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