The following report is forwarded with permission from Tom Stehn, USFWS biologist and National Whooping Crane Coordinator.
Where applicable, 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:
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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An aerial census of the Aransas NWR and surrounding areas made
January 28, 2000 revealed the presence of somewhere between a
record 185 and 190 whooping cranes.
Recap of cranes observed: (164)a
Refuge Lamar San Jose Matagorda Welder Other Total
93+10b 2+1 8+0 (inc.) 22+2 (inc.) 24+2 149+15=164
a The census was incomplete, with portions of San Jose and
Matagorda Island not covered
b The total of 103 surpasses by one the all-time high.
Remarks: With dark, overcast skies throughout the day making it
difficult to find every crane, a complete census was not attempted.
Portions of Matagorda and San Jose were not flown. Efforts were
made to identify individual banded cranes, cranes not on their
territories, and concentrate on finding as many family groups as
possible. Banded cranes identified for the first time this winter
were y-Y (1987) and Y-YbY (1987). Adult female RwR-YbY continues
to be grouped in a trio on her territory.
A total of 164 whooping cranes were located, including 15 chicks.
Pair 35/99 with banded female YbY-GwG (1987) has lost their chick
which was last seen on December 04. This is the first documented
mortality of the winter at Aransas. They were located on a refuge
prescribed burn. A family group had been reported on the
Powderhorn Ranch north of Welder Flats, last sighted January 16th
in an area where live oak brush was being roller-chopped. A search
of the ranch's Coloma Creek area did not find any whoopers and only
a dozen sandhills. One of the 17 chicks this winter cannot be
accounted for and may be a second instance of mortality.
A record number of whooping cranes (103) were located on the
refuge, including 41 on prescribed burns. Cranes are continuing to
leave their Matagorda and San Jose territories to utilize refuge
prescribed burns. Matagorda Island cranes located on the refuge
included South Matagorda and Central Matagorda. A single adult
with a chick was presumably located in the chaotic groupings
associated with prescribed burns observed on the refuge. No cranes
were located at freshwater sources, presumably because of rainfall
received yesterday afternoon. Eleven of 26 whoopers were found on
uplands at Welder Flats.
- Tom Stehn
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Corpus Christi, Texas