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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     December 4, 1999


     SUBJECT:  Whooping Crane Census at Aransas

     An aerial census of the Aransas NWR and surrounding areas made
     12/04/99 revealed the presence of 167 adults and 15 young = 182
     whooping cranes.  The flight was made in USFWS aircraft with Jim
     Bredy, pilot/biologist and Tom Stehn as observer.  Peak population
     this winter equals 167 + 15 = 182.  This figure is one bird less
     than the record peak of 183 last winter.


     Recap of cranes observed: (182)

       Refuge   Lamar   San Jose   Matagorda  Welder  Other      Total
        74+6     2+1      28+1       42+5      21+2          167+15=182


     Remarks:   Scattered showers and wind in the morning made for
     difficult census conditions.

     An estimated 59 + 4 = 63 whooping cranes have arrived since the
     last flight on November 17.  Newly arrived family groups are from
     nests 8, 29, 37, and an unknown.  I will need to confirm the
     presence of the 15th family group because of possible duplication
     on the flight.  Pair 13/99 has arrived without their chick that was
     alive in Wood Buffalo in August.

     Color bands were identified on 4 pairs that were new arrivals.
     Based on unoccupied territories at Aransas, a few whooping cranes
     are still believed to be in migration because of the mild fall
     experienced in the central US.

     On today's flight, eight cranes were observed on prescribed burns.
     Blue crab numbers have declined greatly in November and are
     currently at low levels.  Wolfberries are abundant and are being
     eaten by both sandhill and whooping cranes.  Flights by the cranes
     to freshwater to drink and to prescribed burns to feed are making
     the census more difficult because of the increased crane movement.

     My appreciative thanks go to USFWS pilot/biologist Jim Bredy who
     willingly conducted this survey flight despite an extremely busy
     schedule.

        - Tom Stehn


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Good birding!
Patty Beasley
Corpus Christi, Texas