Florida's Non-migratory Whooping Crane Holds On

Marty Folk, Avian Research,Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission sent an update on the troubled Florida non-migratory flock of whooping cranes. Even though the news is not good, hopefully it will improve as the introduced whoopers gain experience. The final update on this year’s breeding season in FL describes eight of 11 pairs nested this spring; from 9 nests (1 was a re-nest) 3 pairs hatched 4 chicks and 1 chick survived to fledge.

Marty explained that this spring, in addition to collecting data on incubation behavior with video surveillance equipment, we deployed artificialdata-logging eggs into nests of 5 whooping crane pairs and 1 Florida sandhill crane pair in a pilot study of incubation temperature. One of the most important findings was that there were lapses in incubation by whooping crane pairs at night. We have not documented this problem previously because our video surveillance equipment was not suitable for recording indarkness. Lapses in incubation could affect hatchability of eggs. Deployment at nests of cameras with night-vision may allow identification of the reasons for these incubation lapses. A larger sample size of experimental nests (of both whooping and sandhill cranes) will accommodate comparisons of incubation behavior and temperature between successful and unsuccessful pairs. Therefore we are considering another breeding season of data-collection for this purpose.