Whooping Crane Eggs Produced in March Yield Vital Research Data, But No Hatchlings

Release Date: 05/02/2014

*LDWF PHOTO CAPTION – Infertile whooping crane eggs recovered this week from nest site in Louisiana.

 

May 2, 2014 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced today that the first eggs produced by Louisiana’s experimental whooping crane population will not result in hatchlings this year, a result most experts had anticipated.

The young pair of adult cranes, nesting in a crawfish pond on the northern end of the Cajun prairie, has been under observation by project biologists since eggs were spotted in their nest in March.  The 30-day incubation period has passed for what would have been the first whooping crane chicks hatched on the Louisiana landscape in over 75 years.  Whooping cranes are not expected to become successful nesters until they reach four to six years of age, and only a few of Louisiana’s whooping cranes will soon be four years old.  LDWF has collected the eggs and has determined they were not fertile.

“Although this nest did not produce chicks, it is still a very positive and progressive step for the reintroduction project for many reasons,” said Robert Love, LDWF Coastal and Non-game Resources Division administrator.  “This seems to be a strongly bonded pair, which produced two normal eggs, early in the spring and incubated them full term.”

LDWF biologists collected vital data on the cranes’ nest building schedule, nest attentiveness and their reactions to nearby farming activity. Throughout the process, biologists kept the farmer and landowner informed about the cranes’ activity.

The state’s whooping crane reintroduction project began with the release of an initial cohort of juvenile cranes in 2011 at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Vermilion Parish. There are three bonded pairs among the 30 surviving birds that are reaching maturity.

“From the beginning of this reintroduction, the department realized how vulnerable this species is to human harm, and knew one of the challenges would be to elevate the public’s respect for this wildlife species, through a stepwise process of awareness, appreciation and protection,” said Love. “That education and outreach challenge is being addressed through corporate sponsorship.”

The largest corporate supporter for the project is Chevron.

“Chevron believes that environmental stewardship is vital to sustainable economic progress and human development not only here in south Louisiana but throughout the world,” said Chevron Public Affairs General Manager Sakari Morrison. “The success of the whooping crane reintroduction program is encouraging for our area’s biodiversity goals but it’s also encouraging because it shows what can be accomplished through public-private partnerships. We look forward to continuing our support of the whooping cranes with LDWF.”

Team partners who assisted in bringing juvenile cranes to Louisiana annually since 2011 include the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, the International Crane Foundation, the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Visit http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/whooping-cranes to learn more about whooping cranes in Louisiana.

For information on LDWF’s whooping crane reintroduction project, contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 orbboehringer@wlf.la.gov.

*LDWF PHOTO CAPTION – Infertile whooping crane eggs recovered this week from nest site in Louisiana.