About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Photo Share: Whooping Crane Migration

It is believed that approximately 1,400 whooping cranes existed in 1860. Their population declined because of hunting and habitat loss to an all-time low of 15 birds in 1941. Through conservation the wild flock slowly increased to over 180 in the 1990’s. This flock wintered in and around the Gulf coast of Texas and nested in Canada.

This flock of whooping cranes was the only naturally occurring wild population in the world. The population could have been wiped out easily by disease, bad weather, or human impacts. So the Whooping Crane Recovery Team (WCRT), the governing body charged with responsibility of the species, established a non-migratory Whooping crane flock in Florida, using cranes hatched in captivity.

In September 1999, after searching for the best possible location to establish a second migratory flock, the team recommended that the flock be taught a migration route with central Wisconsin as the northern breeding ground and the west coast of Florida as the new wintering location.

It was decided that an ultra light aircraft, would act as the surrogate parent and help guide captive-hatched and imprinted Whooping cranes along a planned migration route from Wisconsin to Florida.

You've helped too. With every purchase you made at our store, a portion went to Wild Birds Unlimited Pathways to Nature® Conservation Fund which helped pay for the ultra light aircraft, education materials, the enclosures where the Whooping Cranes live and a viewing blind that is used by project staff to monitor the young birds.

Read more about Operation Migration at the WCEP website

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