Endangered whooping cranes start dating long before the kids come along

Endangered whooping cranes form long-term monogamous bonds, but it has not previously been known when these pair bonds first form. New data now reveals that 62% of breeding pairs actually form more than a full year before breeding, and 28% of breeding pairs begin to “date” more than two years before breeding starts. These findings suggest there are substantial benefits to partnering in addition to breeding, perhaps to support each other when competing with other birds or to increase partner familiarity. The new paper by Claire Teitelbaum, University of Georgia, SAFS professor Sarah Converse, and Thomas Mueller from Goethe University, Germany appears in the journal Animal Behavior.

An adult whooping crane forages in a central Wisconsin wetland. Photo: Sarah Converse. 
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