The state of Louisiana received one of it's Christmas presents a tad early as we welcomed the 2nd cohort of whooping cranes on December 1st! The weather was perfect and so was the arrival of the second group of cranes that will be released into the Louisiana marshes sometime during the next month.
The cranes arrived in style in two USFWS planes equipped with floats for water landings. They departed early Thursday morning from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland and made two stops for fuel before arriving in Louisiana. The pilots were able to land in the Intercoastal Canal and taxi around the corner to a White Lake dock. The birds were then unloaded from the plane and transported to the pen site via boat. Each bird received a "welcome to Louisiana health check" and all passed with flying colors! The birds were then hand carried one by one to the top netted acclimation pen. The sun had already set, so we allowed the birds to settle down for the night and recooperate from their big journey from up north!
Sara and I went to the pen first thing Friday morning to check on the birds and see how everyone faired their first night in Louisiana. They look even better in the daylight! All birds looked and acted healthy, were actively foraging and didn't take too long to be tempted by the holiday treat bag Sara had prepard for them-grapes and cranberries! We will continue to moniter the birds daily for the next couple of weeks, watching for any changes in behavior or illness.
As with the first cohort of birds, they will remain in the top netted pen until all are banded and acclimated to their new Louisiana surroundings.
The second cohort consists of 16 birds - 7 males and 9 females. Interestingly, the two youngest are brother and sister. The hatch dates for this cohort range from May 11th through June 17th. This years' chicks came from eggs provided by Patuxent , the Species Survival Center in New Orleans, and the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. All chicks were hatched and raised at Patuxent and as always, they have done an "eggselent" job raising the Louisiana birds! They look great and we are thrilled to have them!
Stay tuned for more updates!
Carrie and Sara