As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Whooping cranes' predatory behavior key for adaptation, survival

Date: February 10, 2016
Source: University of Tennessee

The whooping crane, with its snowy white plumage and trumpeting call, is one of the most beloved American birds, and one of the most endangered. As captive-raised cranes are re-introduced in Louisiana, they are gaining a new descriptor: natural killer. 

A new study from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, suggests Louisiana cranes are faring well thanks in part to their penchant for hunting reptiles and amphibians.

Until now, mostly anecdotal evidence existed that whooping cranes regularly hunt reptiles and amphibians. Their natural history is insufficiently known, despite years of research.
Vladimir Dinets, a UT assistant professor of psychology, observed whooping cranes while participating in a reintroduction project in Louisiana, where these birds are being released after decades of absence. Since little natural habitat remains there, the captive-raised birds have to adapt to an agricultural landscape.

Dinets' study showed that reptiles and amphibians are an important high-value food source for the reintroduced whooping cranes, particularly in spring nesting season. Previously, some observers considered reptiles and amphibians to be only occasional prey of whooping cranes.
The findings were published recently in the American Midland Naturalist.

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