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Making a comeback

PHOTO: AP

WHOOPING CRANE: Reason to cheer.

The whooping crane, close to extinction in 1941, is slowly making a comeback. A pair in Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin has successfully hatched two chicks, the first to be hatched in the wild in 100 years.

Joe Duff, head of Operation Migration, a non-profit organisation working with the birds, said that the adult pair had abandoned their first nest earlier in the season. The chicks still have to survive till they learn to fly, he cautioned, since they would be vulnerable to predators and the parent birds have never raised young in the wild.

The Operation Migration project raises cranes hatched in captivity at the refuge and leads them to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge near Crystal River, Florida with an ultra light aircraft as guide in the autumn. In spring, the cranes come back on their own. This year, about 60 birds are being raised for release, of which the two new chicks will be a part. Another first in this group is a bird hatched in captivity. Noticing that the birds were not looking after their nest, researchers had removed the two eggs. Despite their best efforts, only one chick survived. Another group of whooping cranes migrates from Canada to the Texas Gulf in winter.

COMPILED BY R. KRITHIKA

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