Decades of Discovery – Dancing with Whooping Cranes | International Crane Foundation

International Crane Foundation


Decades of Discovery – Dancing with Whooping Cranes

07/09/2020 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Join us for our webinar with George Archibald, Co-founder, on Thursday, July 9, at 11 a.m. Central Time. Click here to register.

In the spring of 1982, there were less than 100 Whooping Cranes left in the wild. That year, I spent countless hours living and dancing with a female Whooping Crane named Tex, who was hopelessly imprinted on humans. I knew I had to try to save her genetic legacy by getting her to lay an egg. She responded and eventually laid a fertile egg. When it hatched, the chick was named Gee Whiz, and he carried the precious genetic treasure from his mother. Now at 38 years old, Gee Whiz lives at the International Crane Foundation and is the founder of many generations of Whooping Cranes.

The International Crane Foundation has been a leader in the historic effort to re-establish Whooping Cranes in the middle of the United States. This population now numbers about 100 birds that breed in Wisconsin and migrate each year to winter across the southern United States.

This spring, three young Whooping Cranes established a territory in a marsh less than ten miles from my home in Wisconsin. They spent the spring sorting out their relationships, nesting and hatching a chick! From mid-March through the summer of 2020, I studied the breeding behavior of these Whooping Cranes and their interactions with five breeding pairs of Sandhills in this wetland. It was fascinating that I was able to connect what I learned all those years ago with Tex with what I observed in these freely living birds. Please join me as I share my joy in the lessons these birds continue to teach me.