The Mississippi Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis pulla) reintroduction program is the largest crane reintroduction effort in the world. Here we report on a 4-year experiment in which we compared post-release survival rates of 56 hand-reared and 76 parent-reared Mississippi Sandhill Cranes. First-year survival was 80%. Surprisingly, hand-reared cranes survived better than parent-reared birds, and the highest survival rates were for hand-reared juveniles released in mixed cohorts with parent-reared birds. Mixing improved survival most for parent-reared birds released with hand-reared birds. These results demonstrate that hand-rearing can produce birds which survive at least as well as parent-reared birds and that improved survival results from mixing hand-reared and parent-reared birds.
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Post-release survival of hand-reared and parent-reared Mississippi Sandhill Cranes