Whooping Cranes Return to Louisiana…Something to Dance About!!

Pen construction October 2010
Training and meeting the future Louisiana birds at Patuxent October 2010

Preparation for the Birds (Sept 2009-Janurary 2011)

Preparation for the bird’s arrival began roughly a year and a half ago. Meetings with private landowners, USFWS official public meetings, obtaining the proper permits, and education and outreach presentations were only the beginning of laying the foundation for the birds’ arrival.

Pen construction began in October of 2010. The pen site is located within the state owned property of White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area…the same vicinity where “Mac”, the last Louisiana whooping crane had been captured and removed in March of 1950. Within the large, 1.5 acre pen, a smaller netted acclimation pen was built. This pen is 70 feet in diameter. This pen would allow the birds to acclimate to their new home in Louisiana while allowing observers to monitor their daily activities without disturbing the birds.  Two feeding platforms were also built-one within the large pen and one within the netted pen to provide pelletized food to the cranes.

The most important preparation for the birds was taking place hundreds of miles away at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. Patuxent was responsible for hatching and raising all 10 of the birds bound for Louisiana.  Every day, countless hours were devoted to these birds by the staff at Patuxent. Thanks so much to Jane Chandler, Dr. Glenn Olsen, and the wonderful Patuxent staff for doing a terrific job getting the birds “ready” for their LA home! 

Carrie Salyers