BY JENNY STALETOVICH
Whooping crane No. 1441, one of the last surviving cranes in a failed effort to re-establish a Florida flock of the nearly extinct birds, made a rare appearance this spring.
A surveyor counting birds for the South Florida Water Management District spotted the lone female — one of possibly three surviving chicks born in the wild as part of an attempt to reestablish a non-migrating flock in Florida — in Glades County on the west shore of Lake Okeechobee, said Tim Dellinger, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation.
The bird, now 10 and still wearing green bands and a radio-tracking monitor that has long since stopped working, was one of 37 chicks hatched from 289 captive-bred cranes released between 1999 and 2012, he said. Of those, only 11 lived long enough to fly and possibly three, including No. 1441, survive. The total flock is down to less than a dozen.