Sunday, August 12, 2012

Whooping Cranes

I am linking up with Wild Bird Wednesday and Nature Notes

I am taking a break from my vacation photos and doing a post on a more recent outing.

On Aug 4th hubby and I signed up for a tour of the Whooping Crane research center at Patuxent Wildlife refuge. It was interesting learning about the Whooping Cranes, how they are being helped in their recovery and return from the brink of extinction.  Back in the 1940's fewer than 25 Whooping Cranes existed. In 1967 a research team collected 12 eggs to start a breeding colony that is now at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife research Center. Their brochure states now there are fewer than 500 wild Whooping Cranes left in the world. Photos are not the best because of the fences and distance, but it was still exciting to see the Whooping Cranes.

 Above whooping crane Mr Lonely, research center, replica of the ultralight aircraft, Sandhill Cranes



 That seems like a scary amount to me, I feel sad when I hear any bird or animal is close to extinction. I have seen flocks of bird numbers in the thousands at one time. So to hear the Whooping Cranes are so few, makes me want to help too. I thank the volunteers at the research center who give their time to take care of the Whooping cranes and their chicks.


 Mr Lonely has been separated as he is a naughty crane attacking and hurting some of other cranes.


Above is one of the Sandhill chicks. We were told sometimes they use Sandhill Cranes to help incubate eggs when there is an inexperienced Whooping Crane involved. The Sandhill Cranes make great adopted parents.


More Sandhill Cranes, we were only allowed so close to the Whooping Cranes and the Sandhill Cranes. They get over excited if anything little thing upsets their routine, we were told also to be very quiet.  The Whooping Crane chicks that are raised at the research center are actually fed by volunteers that have to wear costumes that resemble a Whooping Crane.


Mr Lonely was the closest Whooping Crane, others were further away in similar pens. At Patuxent, I believe there are close to seventy adult Whooping Cranes and there are some chicks designated to be transferred to help populate the Louisiana Whooping Crane population. Some crane chicks are trained to fly and migrate behind the ultralight aircraft. And a few chicks are retained at Patuxent to help enhance genetic diversity.



The pilot has to also wear the whooping Crane costume. There are three different Whooping Crane flocks. One migrates from the Wood Buffalo Nat'l Park to Aransas Nat'l Refuge, the other migrates from Necedah NWR to a Florida NWR and the Patuxent NWR which helps to populate the Louisiana flock.



Anyone can help the Whooping Cranes by a donating to the organization Adopt a Whooper with the Friends of Patuxent. Here is a link Adopt a Whooper.
I think it is a cool idea to donate $25 for an egg, $50 for a chick. It is just a small way to help the Whooping Cranes.

I hope you enjoyed my post, to see more beautiful birds check out Wild Bird Wednesday and Nature Notes.
Thanks to Stewart the host of Wild Bird Wednesday and to Michelle the host of Nature Notes. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great week. Happy Birding!

27 comments:

Carver said...

It is so sad to hear about animals that are close to extinction. Great post.

mick said...

Great photos and a very interesting post. Fantastic to be able to see those Cranes. I have read about them and followed the description of the ultralight led migration.

Brian King said...

What a great place! I'm glad you had the opportunity to visit. I didn't know such a place existed.

Rohrerbot said...

This was an eye opener for me this past summer. I had no idea that many of our world's cranes are endangered or close to extinction. The Whooping Crane is such a beautiful bird. Glad you got to see the "mother-coptor" in person:) Wouldn't that be fun to ride in the white suit during migration?? The Sandhill Cranes take care of them but they have a hard time keeping the Whooping Cranes separated from the Sandhill during migration....so that is tricky. Hopefully this year things will be smoother during huricane season down to Florida and Southern 18 year old boys don't shoot them for sport and get fined 1 dollar for killing a nearly extinct bird. If you haven't read that story, you need to.....makes me sick. I saw this post last night and I got excited.....but it was a no show...and then I realized you must have been prepping it for a release this week:) Thanks for sharing. Chris

Leora said...

Sounds like they have had good success with a number like 500. But I suppose that's a lot less than could be.

Whoop, whoop! So even the pilot wears a costume, huh? Glad they are having fun with it all.

bailey-road.com said...

What an interesting place to visit. The info in your post shows how long it takes to bring back a species from near-extinction.

Debbie said...

what an interesting entry!!

some amazing people doing important work!!

caite said...

sad there are so few, but hopefully they are turning it around.

Dar said...

Thank You Eileen, for such an eye opener. We see the Sandhill Cranes right here in our field often spring through fall and get excited when they arrive. I had no idea, however, that the Whooping Cranes were in such near extinction. I remember my Dad talking about them when I was a kid, wondering where they all had gone. He said they used to see them but no more, that would have been in the early 60's, so what you learned at the center, explains a lot. Thanks again for sharing such an interesting entry and tour. The CraneCopter is pretty exciting...I'd love that job.
BlessYourHeart and Thanks for stopping by

Carol said...

Great post, Eileen, very interesting about the Cranes. Sad, too! Love the lengths they go to for the little ones, dressing up :)

Phil said...

It's a brilliant story Eileen that people can give up their time and expertise to help such a dangerously threatened species. Interesting too how Sandhill Cranes help the other species. Thanks for sharing this story and let's hope there's a very happy ending.

Bob Bushell said...

Lovely birds, love that "whoop".

Kusum said...

Good article!

Nancy Claeys said...

That is such a low number in the grand scheme of things Eileen. Thanks so much for the lesson on these beautiful cranes. :)

Stewart M said...

Nice to be able to learn about these birds.

They look a great deal like our Brolgas - could be in the same genus.

Thanks for linking to WBW.

Stewart M - Australia

HOOTIN ANNI said...

I've seen several sandhill cranes in my time [real time] but NEVER a whooping crane. Once we drove about 2 hours' drive, one way, to go to the refuge where the w. cranes winter, but didn't see a one. Saw several alligators, but no cranes. LOL

Enjoyed reading and viewing all your fantastic photos Eileen.

Hanne Bente said...

Great pictures you show.
Wishing you a good day :)
Hanne Bente

Crafty Green Poet said...

I saw a documentary about the work people are doing to try to help the whooping cranes. So sad that such magnificent birds are so close to extinction

Rambling Woods said...

I have been watching and donating for several years now and you have to love these people and their devotion to these birds and there have been some amazing successes and some heartbreaking losses..thank you for doing this post Eileen...Michelle

Nature Rambles said...

I honestly didn't think that cranes were threatened in any part of the world. Your post was an eye-opener. This centre is doing a great job!

Gary said...

Fascinating post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Jean said...

A most interesting post, Eileen. I didn't know there were 3 flocks. Nor did I know that Sandhill Cranes are adoptive parents.
Yours photos are more than good enough. Thanks for the info and link!

NatureFootstep said...

how interesting. I never heard of this crane before. But I have heard of similar work with geeze I think.
Thanks for sharing this.

Gillian Olson said...

Such an interesting place, they are pretty amazing birds.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Wow! We saw the whoopers at the Aransas WFR when we were staying near there one winter..haven't seen the FL ones yet. They are just marvelous, incredible to see. I have a few photos, but it is all flat ground out there (in TX) and it was hard to show perspective (how big they actually are). I didn't know that, or had forgotten maybe, that sandhills were used as adoptive parents. We saw in a visitor center photos of the planes, and wouldn't that be wonderful to see in real!!.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

I agree with you s much, about how sad, very unfortunate this has become! I am so thankful for the volunteers that put in painstaking at times hours, days, years, to help with this ongoing program. Just like the Pandas of China, and the California Condor, and so many more, why does this have to happen...much due to mankind...thus man should care enough to help raise an awareness and you have just done yours to help spread the word. Great post Eileen~

NewMexiKen said...

Great shots and very interesting narrative!

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