Parent-Reared Releases

On Wednesday evening at 6:06 PM we released the last Whooping crane from the first cohort of five Parent-Reared birds.

We had the cooperation of two landowners whose property bordered a perfect wetland in Dodge Country.

Target female, 66-15 forages in local fields and roosts in this secluded marsh. If it all works out, she will mentor number 24-17 and teach him the ways of the wild. If that introduction takes a little time, 24-17 is in prefect habitat to safely roost in water.

In the spirit of real partnership, we had representatives there from the International Crane Foundation, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, the Wisconsin Departure of Natural Resources and Operation Migration all helping with the release.

Like many Wisconsin wetlands, this one is surrounded by cattails and there is only one access. We had to carry the crate containing 24-17 over stumps and under tree-falls along a narrow, overgrown dike on the edge of a forest.

We reached a place where we could see the open marsh across a shallow channel and through a thin curtain of tall grass.

It’s almost impossible to predict what a bird will do when it comes out of a crate after an hour and a half drive. It could have walked up the channel to the left or right or flown out in any direction. Instead, it walked out of the crate, straight across the channel and through the grass curtain as if it knew the plan.

Young male whooping crane #24-17 crosses a shallow channel of water.

Now the first hurdle is cleared, we have to hope the chick and the adult actually meet. Then they must form a bond and stick together until the chick learns how to survive.

Then there is that migration thing…

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5 Comments

  1. aintthatamerica September 21, 2017 11:16 pm

    Dodge County ?

  2. Catherine Wohlfeil September 21, 2017 9:00 pm

    Come on 66-15! Look for the little white feathered one!!

  3. Jean P. aka CrabtowneMd September 21, 2017 10:03 am

    WOW ! thank you for the great description and beautiful photo. First of 5 huge hurdles passed. Many hopes for success to #24-17 and all the other 2017 whooper colts.

  4. Barb September 21, 2017 9:00 am

    Have these chicks ever spent a night alone? It must be terrifying for them. I wish there was some other method to release them. Could the intended adult mentor be caught a week or so before release, let the adult and chick get aquainted and bonded, then release them together? I think it would give the chick the confidence needed to begin living free. Thanks for the update.

  5. Sue McCurdy September 21, 2017 8:47 am

    In the words of MLK, “free, free at last.”