The Annual Cycle of the Whooping Crane
January February March April May June
July August September October November December
April: Returning to Nesting Grounds
Whooping Crane Family takes flight

MapMap

Photo Credit
Klaus Nigge

April is the month of big departures from the Texas wintering grounds. It's also when many eastern cranes will already reach their Wisconsin nesting grounds. Whooping Cranes migrate in small groups that leave at different times. These staggered departures help the species survive. If they all flew together and encountered a blizzard, or tornadoes, or couldn't find food in ponds still covered with ice, the entire flock would be in peril. The closer the families get to the nesting grounds, the more urgently the parents move. They must get back to lay eggs so the new chicks will have enough time to grow before fall migration. By the time the adults reach their familiar nesting territory, the "kids" are ready for independence. Some have already left Mom and Dad to hang out with subadult pals. 

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