A Morning With Whooping Cranes Spirit and Cloud

Yesterday I started my new assignment to document the nesting of Spirit (24-17) and Cloud (4-17), a pair of reintroduced Whooping Cranes in Sauk County, Wisconsin. It has been wonderful to observe such a miraculous process. For me, it is also a training session to prepare myself to help the new Sarus Crane reintroduction program at Tram Chim National Park, Vietnam.

Today, I observed an amazing event I would like to share with you.

5:45 a.m.: The female Spirit sat on the nest.

6 a.m.: The male Cloud left to forage in a nearby field.

6:15 a.m.: I saw a Sandhill Crane calling loudly and approaching Spirit. I thought the Sandhill Crane was reckless to intrude into Spirit and Cloud’s territory. However, I looked around and saw a coyote lurking in the grass west of Spirit’s nest. The coyote then slowly walked towards the nest.

Looking at the intruder, both Spirit and the Sandhill Crane were now both calling, joining to fight a common enemy. Despite the threats from both cranes, the coyote kept walking closer and closer to Spirit’s nest.

Finally, after about 10 minutes, the coyote gave up and walked away to the East. Cloud returned and immediately took the incubating role. He had probably heard Spirit calling for help. Spirit danced around Cloud, and they unison called – a beautiful duet performed by a pair. Last year, Spirit and Cloud lost their chicks, perhaps to coyote predation. Let us hope they will be successful this year.


Story by Tran Triet, Southeast Asia Program Director.