Recovery of endangered birds often involves population establishment through introduction of captive-reared individuals. Growth of a captive-reared Whooping Crane (Grus americana) population introduced into central Wisconsin is currently limited by a high rate of nest desertion, which is thought to possibly be related to poor general nest attentiveness. Whooping Crane nest attentiveness and associated covariates were studied. Egg infertility and embryonic death rates were assessed as well as their effects on daily nest survival estimates. Techniques to minimize predation exposure of unattended eggs were developed and evaluated. Most Whooping Crane pairs deserted their eggs and all left them unattended. Nest desertion was associated with poor nest attentiveness. Variables related to age of the nesting pair were useful for modeling nest attentiveness. Daily nest survival estimates based solely on adult presence potentially produced inflated measures. Results suggest management interventions can minimize predation exposure of unattended eggs. Bypassing a portion of incubation has the additional advantage of simultaneously addressing nest failure and maximizing productivity.
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Vol. 36 • No. 3