Behavioral profiles of the captive juvenile whooping crane as an indicator of post-release survival
Predation by bobcats (Lynx rufus) is the major cause of mortality in captive-reared whooping cranes (Grus americana) released into the wild to establish a nonmigratory flock in Florida.
This study investigated whether rearing methods (parent-rearing, hand-rearing, or hand-rearing with exercise) of cranes, and behaviors observed in birds either before or shortly after release in the wild, are associated with survival after release. Rearing methods did not affect survival first year post-release, which was 55 ±8% in 2 yr (1999 and 2000). Logistic regression revealed, however, that foraging bouts (+), walking bouts (-), and body weight (-) before release, and nonvigilant bouts (-) after release were significantly associated with survival. These results suggest that post-release survival of whooping cranes might be increased by rearing techniques that promote foraging.