Friday, May 10, 2013

Whooping Crane 14-12 AKA Lily

     In 2000, various crane conservation partners collaborated on developing a program to establish an second wild-living freely breeding Whooping Crane flock in North America, breeding in Wisconsin and wintering in Florida. For more information on the successes and failures of this project, go here.
      For our purposes, suffice it to say, that as a result of the ultralight and direct release programs associated with this project, it seems that stray Whooping Cranes can turn up just about anywhere. Quite a few wind up in Michigan. Currently, crane 14-12 has been gracing the Farm Unit in Allegan with his presence since April 30. Although this crane is a male, the fourteenth hatched in 2012, he was given the name Lily. Go to the link for more information about him. I was lucky enough to spot him today.
     Lily was captive bred and raised then released as part of the Direct Autumn Release cohort for 2012. 

 Photos by Dixie Burkhart

       I took these pictures from about a quarter mile away through the windshield of my car, and have seriously magnified them, losing resolution.  The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership requests that if you see a Whooping Crane, do not approach closer than 200 yards on foot or 100 yards in a vehicle. They have worked very hard to keep the cranes wild, as their wariness helps them to survive. I would also ask that you be sensitive to the crane's or any other wild bird's behavior, and back off if you see they are becoming  uncomfortable. That said, if he is around, you shouldn't have any trouble spotting this magnificent bird. He is blazingly white. Good luck if you go!

Til next time.

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