After moving across the country from Wisconsin to Louisiana and realizing how ridiculous the summer weather down here in the south is, I was crossing my fingers for some wild-hatched chicks as a ‘welcome’ present. Sadly I was disappointed this year, but next year I have high hopes. Little fluffy babies running around on the landscape would certainly be worth the heat and humidity (but I’ll probably still spend most of my time inside).
The following recaps the end of our nesting season:
The infertile eggs of L7-11 and her mate L8-11 were collected on 4 June in Avoyelles Parish. For those of you keeping track, this makes four nests for this pair (2 first nests and 2 renests) in the last two years. All their eggs have sadly been infertile, but they are excellent incubators and have gone past full term every time. In the Wisconsin population we had a similar situation with a pair that produced infertile eggs for a number of years and, after replacing their infertile eggs with a hatching egg from captivity in both 2009 and 2010, boom! Shortly after that they began producing their own fertile eggs! Maybe the third year will be the charm for L7 and 8-11.
Male L2-11 and his mate L13-11 nested in Allen Parish and incubated for a minimum of 27 days (and a maximum of 37). On 12 June, Sara and I headed out early to conduct a three hour nest observation on the pair, however, when we arrived at the site, they were not sitting on the nest. We observed them for a while until we were sure they did not have a chick and then visited their nest where we found a small piece of egg shell and nothing else. Although the last time they had been observed still on the nest was 3 days prior, we are pretty certain that their egg (or eggs) did not hatch. There was no smashed vegetation around the nest and no larger egg fragments that could indicate a hatch.
The final nest belonged to young male L1-13 and his mate L3-11. They also were Allen Parish nesters and chose a very secluded marsh that was difficult to get to and made ground observations impractical. Sara and I conducted a flight on 17 June and during that flight we found the adults 1.5 miles from the nest with one egg still present. Our colleague Phillip headed out to the nest while we were finishing up our flight and collected the single, intact egg. We incubated the egg overnight (just in case!) in a little travel incubator and Sara drove it over to the Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans the following day. Early the next week we received word that the egg was rotten and fertility could not be determined. We estimate that this pair could have incubated for a maximum of 28 days based on observations and data from their remote transmitters.
In addition to the pairs that laid eggs this spring, male L10-11 and his mate L11-11 built a nest platform on the White Lake property but did not lay any eggs. Hopefully next year!
So, while it was a disappointed end to nesting season #2, there are still things to celebrate, including three new breeding pairs!
1 – L7-11 and L8-11’s renest in Avoyelles Parish with their two infertile eggs.
2 – A very dirty L7-11 pokes at a broom which was used to keep the adults away from the nest while the eggs were collected.
3 – L2-11 and L13-11’s nest in Allen Parish. The single eggshell fragment we found is outlined.
4 – L3-11 and L1-13’s nest in Allen Parish with their single (rotten) egg present.
5 – L10-11 and L11-11’s nest platform in the White Lake marsh.
Update written by Eva Szyszkoski
Eva joined LDWF and our whooping crane project in June 2015 and we are thrilled to have her on our team! She comes to us with a wealth of experience having worked with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the International Crane Foundation for the past 8 years, specifically on the eastern migratory whooping crane reintroduction project (WCEP).