Greetings all,

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

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An aerial census of the Aransas NWR and surrounding areas made 15 November,
2000 estimated 147 adults and 9 young present at Aransas for a total of
156.

Recap of cranes observed: (154)
Refuge  Lamar   San Jose        Matagorda       Welder  Total
68+5            4+0     22+2            27+1            24+1            145+9=154*
*Mustang Lake pair was overlooked.

Remarks: Overcast skies throughout the day and drizzle in the afternoon made for difficult census conditions. An estimated 85 + 6 = 91 whooping cranes have arrived since the last flight on November 9. A strong cold front that reached the Texas coast on November 13 provided excellent migration  conditions for two days and aided about 50% of the flock in completing the migration. About 30 more cranes are estimated to still be in migration somewhere in Kansas, Oklahoma, or Texas.

Nine family groups were present on today's flight. One chick was accompanied by a single adult, evidence of mortality of one parent subsequent to nesting. The identity of this 1+1 family (summer or winter territory) is unknown. Other instances of mortality are the arrival of pairs numbered 06/00 and 40/00 without chicks which they had in mid-August.An unexpected family to arrive is from nesting pair 46/99. The color-banded crane R-YbY was positively identified on today's flight. The location of their 2000 nest was not determined. One other surprise could be the arrival of 49/00 with a chick. This is a tentative identification since this pair is not banded. However, its location on two flights makes me believe it is pair 49/00.

There was much movement of cranes on today's flight, some of it connected with trips to drink fresh water. Fifteen cranes were located near fresh water sources. Thirty-five cranes were on uplands. A group of 6+1, standing on the refuge's East Shore Road, flew across the refuge and was later located on 3-Island Marsh on St. Charles Bay. The Long Reef pair from San Jose was on Lamar's Big Tree Marsh. In the St. Charles Bay pair, adult B-o/y (1986) has lost her final color band and now appears as high silver - nil. Her mate is nil - high silver. This is the pair that brought twins to Aransas in 1997.

- Tom Stehn

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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: 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.)

Good birding!
Patty Beasley
Corpus Christi, Texas