Date: Thu, 16 Jul 1998
Reply-To: Patty Beasley <pbeasley@ELECTROTEX.COM>
Sender: Audubon birding discussion list for Texas
From: Patty Beasley <pbeasley@ELECTROTEX.COM>
Subject: [TEXBIRDS] Whooping Crane Update - forwarded report
Comments: To: BIRDCHAT@LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU
It's time again to start looking skyward, including watching for whooping
cranes in their fall migration. I just received the following report from
Tom Stehn, USFSW biologist and National Whooping Crane Coordinator.
This report is on the status of the whooping crane's nesting activities
their nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park.
CWS stands for Canadian Wildlife Service; USFSW is US Fish and Wildlife
Service. Crane monitoring involves cooperative efforts and support by both
Anyone wanting to contact Tom about the report or the whooping crane
projects can reach him via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and other
information can be found at the Texas Whooping Crane home page at
July 14, 1998:
Aerial searches for nests were conducted in May by CWS biologist
Brian Johns. Brian also checked on hatching success the first
half of June. In mid-June, a USFWS aircraft piloted by Jim
Bredy (USFWS-Region II) and accompanied by Brian Johns and Tom
Stehn, (USFWS-Aransas NWR), flew for five days to check on
production and identify color-banded cranes.
Forty-nine nests were located. This is the exact same number
last year. In early June, 47 chicks were sighted, including 12
sets of twins. This compares with 58 chicks and 16 sets of
twins last summer. Four pairs failed to nest and two pairs
abandoned their nests.
By June 20, the usual mortality of the very young chicks had
occurred, with 32 chicks and no sets of twins remaining. This
compares unfavorably with the summer of 1997, when 43 chicks and
4 sets of twins were present in the latter part of June. There
is no explanation for why nesting success, although good in
1998, did not reach the record production of 1997. Water
conditions look favorable for production, although there has
been little rain in May or June in Wood Buffalo National Park.
Nesting occurred about one week earlier in 1998 compared with
It is interesting that the whooping cranes all nest in a
contiguous series of marshes. With the provincial boundary
bisecting the nesting grounds, five of the nests are in Alberta,
and the rest are in the Northwest Territories. One nest is
outside the Park boundary.
One adult was still sitting on an egg at the final nest located
on June 20th.
All color-banded birds were accounted for. One female ByB-ByB
had re-paired with the Vinson Slough male. And widowed male
YbY-Y, who lost his mate at Aransas in February, 1998 re-paired
with banded bird hs-W. It is possible that YbY-Y split up the
pair bond between hs-W and an unbanded crane that had nested
together for several years. Whooping cranes normally mate for
life, but we are learning that changes do happen.
With the good production this summer, up to 20 juveniles are
expected to be brought by their parents to Aransas this fall.
Thus, the total Aransas-Wood Buffalo population is expected to
increase and be somewhere around a record 190+ whooping cranes
Tom Stehn, Biologist, USFSW
National Whooping Crane Coordinator
Tom tells me the first crane is expected to arrive at Aransas National
Wildlife Refuge in Texas on October 16th, traditionally the date the first
crane usually arrives, give or take a week (kind of like a baby <grin!> ...
a thought that Tom tells me occurred to him as he waited in the delivery
room one October 16th for his son to be born!). Must be fate!
Good birding and keep looking skyward,
Corpus Christi, Texas