Wise old birds teach migration route to young whooping cranes

A study of captive-bred whooping cranes found that young birds learn their migration routes over many years, and migrating alongside older birds improves the migratory efficiency of younger birds.

by Grrrrl Scientist @ TheGuardian

The whooping crane, Grus americana, is a large and long-lived migratory bird in North America. Due to hunting and habitat loss, this formerly widespread species declined until just 16 individuals remained in the wild in 1941. Currently, this species is slowly recovering: the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that as of 2011, there were 437 birds in the wild and more than 165 in captivity.

These 16 surviving wild birds represented just a tiny relict of the historical population, which was more numerous and had a much larger range. These birds and their offspring followed just one migratory route between their breeding area in northwestern Canada and their wintering site along the Texas coast…

(read more: The Guardian UK)

photos by Joseph Duff/Operation Migration USA Inc.

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