Article by International Crane Foundation — May 11, 2011
The French word for crane, grue, gives us the English word pedigree – from pied de grue, meaning literally “foot of the crane.” The shape of the crane’s foot (right) refers to a succession mark made on French genealogy charts.
On April 10th the first Whooping Crane chick (W1-11) of the season hatched in a wild nest at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in central Wisconsin. The mother of this chick (W1-06) was the first chick to hatch in the wild in Wisconsin in over 100 years. It was an historic day in 2006, and now just five years later – she has produced her own wild offspring. The father (#10-03) of the new chick stems from a captive pair at the San Antonio Zoo. He was released at Necedah NWR in 2003 to learn the migration route behind an ultralight aircraft. The maternal grandparents are both “ultralight” birds. Grandmother (#17-02) was shot during migration in Indiana in 2009.
Tracking parentage and relatedness in Whooping Crane population management is vital because of the genetic bottleneck they went through in the 1930s. Genetic diversity is important because it keeps the population healthy. A team of crane experts manage the lineage of captive Whooping Cranes in a “studbook”, while the reintroduced wild birds are tracked in a database. Read more about the Whooping Crane Conservation story.
May 13, 2011 Update
The Necedah NWR reports that three Whooping Crane chicks hatched this week at the reserve. Unfortunately, the first chick, W1-11, has not been sighted recently. We still celebrate her story and the hope that all three chicks bring for the population!