Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Whooping Cranes

Earlier in the week, it was reported that a pair of whooping cranes in Wisconsin had possibly hatched a chick. Well, now this news has been confirmed, and it turns out that the pair hatched not one, but two chicks. For the first time in over 100 years, there are now whooping cranes breeding in the wild in the eastern United States.

As part of the project, now in its fifth year, cranes hatched in captivity at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland have been raised at the Necedah refuge and led south by ultralight aircraft in the fall to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge near Crystal River, Fla. They migrate back north on their own in the spring.

The flock now numbers about 60 birds, with 22 newly hatched young ones being raised for release this fall....

The only other migrating flock of whooping cranes numbers about 200 birds. They fly from Canada to winter on the Texas Gulf Coast. The whooping crane, the tallest bird in North America, was near extinction in 1941, with only about 20 left.

For more information on the whooping crane project, see the website of Operation Migration.

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