The following report is forwarded with permission from Tom Stehn, USFWS biologist and US 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, plus many volunteers and non-profit organizations along the way.
Anyone wanting to contact Tom about the report or the whooping crane projects can reach him via email at: email@example.com. Other information, including archived copies of these reports, can be found at the Texas Whooping Crane web site at http://www.ccbirding.com/
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An aerial census on April 21, 2004 of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas estimated the number of whooping cranes at Aransas to be 6 adults + 2 young = 8.
Recap of cranes observed: (8)
adults + young
Refuge 6 + 2
All other areas 0_
Total 6 + 2 = 8*
* 3 adults and 2 juveniles started migration during the flight, leaving only 3 subadults at Aransas.
Remarks: Flight conditions were fair with mostly cloudy skies become partly sunny by noon. The number of whooping cranes found totaled 8. This included the Pipeline family group, the Behind Middle Pond single adult with chick, one subadult south of the Pipeline, and a subadult duo on Blackjack Point. The presence of the two family groups was unexpected since migration conditions had been excellent April 15-20 with sunny skies and very strong southeast winds.
April 21st is the latest I have ever observed adult whooping cranes still at Aransas. All eight cranes were found on today's flight before 9 AM. After flying over the rest of the crane range, the refuge was re-checked at noon and only 3 subadult cranes were found. The two family groups (5 cranes total) had started migration between 9 and 12 noon on April 21st.
The migration leaving Aransas is just about over with only 3 whooping cranes still present. Ninety-eight percent of the flock has departed. Whooping cranes have been reported recently all the way from Texas to North Dakota. All the eastern whooping cranes have started the migration, with many already back in Wisconsin.
Habitat: On today's flight, no cranes were observed at fresh water sources, uplands, burns, or in open bay habitat. Many mudflats were exposed on San Jose and Matagorda islands as moderately low tides combined with strong southeast winds blew the water over towards the west side of the bay.
Whooping Crane Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 100
Austwell, TX 77950
(361) 286-3559 Ext. 221
fax (361) 286-3722
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Patty Waits Beasley
Corpus Christi, TX