Fledging Whoopers Decline While Habitat Improves

Brian Johns, Wildlife Biologist, Canadian Wildlife Service reports that: “Kathy St. Laurent and I completed surveys for fledgling whooping cranes and found 22 family groups, each with a single young. Habitat conditions were excellent with water levels higher than I have ever seen them at this time of year. In order to achieve these high water levels a much higher than average amount of rain fell during June (113.6mm or 2.5 times normal) and July (86mm or 1.5 times normal). Although the rain was welcome it came at a time when the young were still vulnerable to cool wet conditions and may have contributed to the lower than average survival of chicks to fledging age (0.35 chicks/nest vs 0.47). The high water levels will however, ensure that spring 2010 conditions are favorable. Given the number of young produced this year and the number of adults and subadults that were lost last winter, the population will decline in 2009.”