Choosing a Mate

Dancing cranes
Sue Kersey

April 11, 2016

The Class of 2015 cranes are waiting for better migration weather before leaving their current locations and entering Wisconsin.

For the past week, one low-pressure system after another has been blocking all bird migration to the upper Midwest. Low-pressure systems are associated with the least favorable conditions for crane migration. Cranes usually migrate on days when high-pressure systems bring sunshine and winds from the south or east. Watch the weather—and our bio pages, updated as we get word on each bird's location.

The youngest cranes won't mate and nest until they are between three and five years old. Most cranes mate for life. Each year, pairings take place as younger cranes find a favorite or reach the age to mate. Some cranes must look for a new mate after a mate dies, or possibly when the pair doesn't have success raising chicks. How does a crane decide who will be a fit partner to (1) help raise chicks and (2) stay together for a long lifetime?