Greetings all,

The following report is forwarded with permission from Tom Stehn, USFWS biologist and National Whooping Crane Coordinator.

CWS stands for Canadian Wildlife Service; USFWS is US Fish and Wildlife Service. Crane monitoring involves cooperative efforts and support by both countries.

Anyone wanting to contact Tom about the report or the whooping crane projects can reach him via email at: tom_stehn@fws.gov. Other information, including archived copies of these reports, can be found at the Texas Whooping Crane home pages at http://www.electrotex.com/aoc/. (Please link to the Texas Whooping Crane pages through the AOC main home page, as the URLs for the special site pages may change over time as updates and reviews occur.)

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November 17, 1999

     TO: Division of Endangered Species, USFWS, Albuquerque, NM

     FROM: Whooping Crane Coordinator, Aransas NWR, Austwell, Texas

     SUBJECT:  Whooping Crane Census at Aransas

     An aerial census of the Aransas NWR and surrounding areas made
     11/17/99 revealed the presence of 108 adults and 11 young = 119
     whooping cranes.  The flight was made in USFWS aircraft with Jim
     Bredy, pilot/biologist and Tom Stehn as observer.


     Recap of cranes observed: (119)

       Refuge   Lamar   San Jose   Matagorda  Welder  Other      Total
        51+5              22+1       29+4       6+1          108+11=119


     Remarks:   Visibility was excellent.  An estimated whooping cranes
     85+8=93 have arrived since the last flight on October 27.  About
     35% of the whooping crane flock is estimated still in migration,
     with numerous sightings reported.

     Family groups present are from nests 4, 5, 12, 21, 35, 36, 38, 42,
     47, and two unknowns.  Additional locations are needed before I can
     be sure of the identities of 21, 38, and 42.  Chicks from nests 21
     and 42, if correctly identified, were unexpected based on Canadian
     survey data.  One pair has arrived but has lost their chick since
     August surveys in Wood Buffalo National Park (pair 39/99).

     Due to salinities greater than 24 in the bays and marshes because
     of drought, the Aransas whooping cranes are flying to freshwater
     sources (dugouts and ponds) to drink.  Some of these areas are in
     prescribed burns conducted this fall by the refuge.  Many cranes
     have been observed at dugouts and on prescribed burns.  On today's
     flight, seven cranes were observed on burns and 3 at a freshwater
     pond.  Blue crab numbers are at moderate levels in the marshes, so
     the cranes are finding enough to eat.

     My appreciative thanks go to USFWS pilot Jim Bredy who willingly
     conducted this survey flight despite an extremely busy schedule.
     Contract pilot Dr. Tom Taylor of Rockport Aerial Services who
     conducted the flights the past several years had recent heart
     bypass surgery and is recovering.  There are no contract pilots in
     Texas certified for low level missions by the Office of Aircraft
     Safety.  Until a contract pilot can be found, we will rely on USFWS
     pilots for future census flights, hopefully two flights a month.

     - Tom Stehn


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Good birding!
Patty Beasley
Corpus Christi, Texas