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 13 April, 2005 of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas estimated the number of whooping cranes present at Aransas at 27 adults + 7 young = 34 total. The current estimated size of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population is 182 + 33 = 215.
Recap of cranes observed on the flight: (34)
adults + young
Refuge 11 + 3
San Jose 5 + 2
Matagorda 7 + 2
Welder Flats 4 + 0
Total 27 + 7 = 34
Remarks: Excellent viewing conditions and light winds were present throughout the day with a complete census flown. Flight conditions can't get any better.
An estimated 127 whooping cranes (103 adults and 20 young) have started the migration since the last flight on April 6. The best day in the past week for migration was April 9. The presence of the West Shell Reef family group that had been overlooked last week indicated that 157 cranes had actually been present on the last flight April 6. Present on today's flight were 18 adults, 9 subadults, and 7 chicks. The family group of cranes visible from the refuge observation tower has migrated. All of the cranes except possibly a few subadults and the injured Lobstick chick are expected to begin migration in the next week. The next census flight is scheduled for April 27.
At Aransas, the Lobstick chick is still sick but improving slightly. Its head and neck are less swollen, but it is still holding its head at a sideways angle with the bill usually slanted down. It is eating a few crabs but only when fed by its parents. It can walk rapidly and fly, so capturing it would be very difficult. We will continue to monitor the chick.
On today's flight, tides were at mid-range (2.5 mlt), higher than last week. Most cranes were in ponds that were drying up with the cranes
feeding on small crabs. A few cranes were in dry vegetated marsh. One adult crane was observed holding a large snake and its chick sprinted over to get the snake. No cranes were in open bay habitat or on prescribed burns.
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