Print

Print


Florida Birders and bird lovers,
    As I seldom post to this list, let me introduce myself. I am Judith Buhrma
n, a long-time volunteer on The Other Whooping Crane Project, the
establishment of a resident, breeding population that has been in operation
since 1993 (and in the planning for many years before then).
    For four years now, one to several pairs of whoopers have attempted to
nest, despite the horrendous lack of water in the marshes of central Florida.
In 2000, one pair, whom we dubbed The First Family, produced two fertile eggs
and reared one chick that survived until it was about 69 days old, when luck
and water in the marshes ran out. There were a few doomed attempts in the
spring of 2001, and in 2002, seven pairs had a go.
    Most of you probably know about the pair that nested in Leesburg, in the
middle of a neighborhood within shouting distance of SR 44. They hatched two
eggs, and succeeded in raising one, a saga briefly recounted on Patuxent's
web site (http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/whoopers/ Go to the bottom of the page and
click on number 18). The youngster has fledged, flies with skill and
confidence, and remains with his parents to learn the crane business. That
these were first-time nesters makes it all the more astonishing, not to
mention encouraging. (Note: We took to referring to the chick as "he" when at
60-some days, he was his mother's height, and shortly grew to match his
sire's stature. It's a good guess, but not yet confirmed).
    When the grown-ups start nesting again, they will send the youngster off
to make his own way in the world. We'll know then to watch for the appearance
of an egg within two to three weeks, the first of a usual two. Meanwhile,
should you find yourself in the Leesburg area, especially to the west on or
near SR 44, check open short-grass pastures and ponds and keep an eye to the
sky for three whooping cranes. If one of them is wearing the colors red and
green on his legs and a dusting of cinnamon on his feathers, that will be
Lucky, as he was dubbed, in the company of his parents.
    This project is the responsibility of the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission. Once the birds have been delivered to us from the
various captive breeding installations, they are ours to monitor and fret
over. And there has been much to give fret: drought, disturbance, foul play
(three we know have been shot), alligators, bob-cats, disease, and just plain
bad luck. Still, 80 some-odd whooping cranes grace our skies and fields with
their elegant power.
    Nature, in her supreme indifference, brought extended drought to drain
the marshes and lakes where nesting should take place just as the first
arrivals were reaching breeding age. It was, in fact, a shriveling lake that
offered our present pair the habitat they needed, and we all held our breath
through the spring, hoping it did not dry up entirely before Lucky had
fledged. But enough water remained, and this summer's glorious rains have
filled the natal lake, as well as most of the central Florida wetlands
essential for nesting. A few gentle winter rains to keep the water up, and. .
. And a lot of frustrated whooping crane pairs are going to be making up for
lost time!
    If you think, as I do, that this is quite wonderful, and are willing to
send a short note to that effect where it might do great good, please reply
to my personal address, [log in to unmask], and I'll fill you in.

       Judith Buhrman
       Seminole FL
       [log in to unmask]

______________________________________________________________________
FLORIDABIRDS-L Listserv mailing list information:
Policy,sub.info:   http://bkpass.tripod.com/FLORIDABIRDS-L.htm
Member photos: http://bkpass.tripod.com/floridabirds.htm
For archives:   http://www.lists.ufl.edu/archives/floridabirds-l.html
Set nomail: Click:  [log in to unmask] Set floridabirds-l nomail
Listowner: Click:  [log in to unmask]