Scientific Name: Grus canadensis pulla
Status: protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act
Quick Fact: Fewer than 35 cranes existed in 1975 when the US Fish and Wildlife Service established the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge
Learn More: visit the Audubon Nature Institute for more about recovery efforts
The sandhill crane has a wide distribution in North America and the sight and sound of migrating crane flocks is familiar in many parts of the United States. There are two non-migratory sub-species of sandhill crane found in Florida and in Mississippi. The Mississippi Sandhill Crane is critically endangered and it has lost much of its native habitat in southern Mississippi and Alabama due to land development, pine plantations, and invasive plant species. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has designated this crane species as a priority for conservation, and the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Wildlife Refuge was established near Gautier, Mississippi to protect the last breeding populations and critical remaining habitat of this magnificent crane.
White Oak became involved with the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Recovery Program managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1994. Special facilities were designed at White Oak and a captive breeding program for the cranes was initiated. Several pairs of birds produce eggs and chicks every year at White Oak and are raised for annual releases of the birds into the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Wildlife Refuge.
The wild population of Mississippi Sandhill Crane remains under threat and the annual release of captive bred cranes are critical to the survival of the species. White Oak staff is developing techniques to maximize the production of the species while ensuring the fitness and health of the young birds hatched at White Oak and available for release each year.
For more information about the recovery program visit the USFWS site.