Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Receives Funding

Necedah National Wildlife Refuge will receive $210,000.00 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Cooperative Recovery Initiative, a highly competitive grant. This funding initiative is designed to support nearly 300 threatened and endangered species found in and around national wildlife refuges. Only four grants were awarded this year. Necedah’s grant will support three years of research to expand the limited understanding of multiple factors that influence nesting whooping cranes. Research under this grant will be conducted from this spring in 2014 through 2016. 

More specifically, this research will focus on when whooping cranes choose to nest. Whooping cranes present an interesting challenge to biologists because of these keys variables: whooping cranes have been introduced to an area, have learned to forage, select habitat, and migrate, yet they are still struggling in reproducing offspring.

There are a number of factors that play into why this could be happening. By selecting one aspect of nesting, with as many other factors as constant as possible, biologists will research and manipulate the timing of nesting to increase the potential for wild whooping cranes hatching wild chicks. “What intrigues us is that this technique will adjust cranes to the environment, not adjust the environment to the cranes,” explained Refuge Manager Doug Staller.

Biologists have recorded evidence that late spring nests produce a higher number of wild whooping crane chicks. The research is aimed at shifting when whooping cranes nest and will provide a better understanding of factors influencing whooping crane nesting success. After three years the intent is that the research will provide much needed information on the biological needs of this flock of whooping cranes. It will provide answers to help evaluate the financial costs of this reintroduction and will better inform future decisions and strategies for the survival of the whooping crane.

Research updates will be shared annually through print media, at the visitor center, as well as the refuge website and Facebook page. Biologists and staff of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge invite the public to view these magnificent birds, in the wild, from late March to early November each year.

View whooping cranes from the comfort of the visitor center, located two miles north of Hwy 21, just four miles west of Necedah. Hike the visitor center trails or drive along Goose and Sprague Pools to photograph these beautiful birds.

For more information about Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, visit:

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  1. Dorothy Nordness April 1, 2014 12:08 am

    This grant is great news for the eastern flock. Anything learned from this endeavor should help to build the flock’s numbers. Competition must have been quite stiff, given that only 4 grants were given. Were any of your staff involved in the grant-writing?? If so, Congratulations on a Job Well Done (not that you don’t do a great job at what you are already doing!)

  2. Jon March 29, 2014 7:46 am

    The article is rather vague. How will they be manipulating nesting to increase nesting success? Will they prevent them from nesting earlier by scaring them away?

    • Heather Ray March 30, 2014 6:37 am

      Jon, the intent is to collect the eggs from half of all first nesting pairs, thereby encouraging them to re-nest later in the season, once black flies have diminished.

  3. cgull March 28, 2014 7:20 pm

    This is great and interesting news! I thought there was scientific discussion to potentially begin bringing the whooping cranes to Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in WI. to see if the whooping cranes breeding and reproduction rates improved.

    • Heather Ray March 30, 2014 6:31 am

      Whooping cranes have been released at Horicon and White River Marsh areas beginning in 2011. Those cranes are now 3 years old so we should begin to see some pairing and possibly courtship this spring.

  4. Margie Tomlinson March 28, 2014 3:07 pm

    Congratulations to Necedah NWR ! It certainly is a win for OM, too!
    Hope to see some really good results/outcome from the grant there.