Wildlife teams looking for endangered crane

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —

Wildlife crews are on the lookout for an endangered bird, last seen wearing a green leg band and flying somewhere northeast of Louisville.A young male whooping crane, dubbed “733,” was part of a migration that was being led by ultra light aircraft pilots. It didn’t keep up, lost touch with other migrating birds and was last seen on Friday, northeast of Louisville near the Ohio River, said Liz Condie, a spokeswoman for conservation group Operation Migration.

The migration team, which was stuck in Washington County on Tuesday because of weather, planned to spend the day searching for the bird, according to a posting on the group’s Web site.

Sixteen remaining birds were scheduled to fly to Tennessee later this week. The birds were flying from Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana to a farm in Shelby County, Ky., when “733” got lost.

The bird, which hatched on June 8, has a radio transmitter, but crews have not been able to find the signal. The transmitter has a range of one to five miles, depending on the bird’s location, Condie said.

“It’s a bit like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack,” Condie said.

Operation Migration has a picture of the bird, along with a description of its early temperament, posted on its Web site, at http://www.operationmigration.org.

When fully grown, whooping cranes can stand 5 feet tall with wing spans of about 7 feet.

There are about 300 whooping cranes remaining in the wild.

Anyone who has spotted the bird should call 1-800-675-2618.

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Filed under ornithology, USA, wildlife, zoology

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