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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 27 April, 2005 of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas estimated the number of whooping cranes present at Aransas at 0 adults + 1 young = 1 total. The current estimated size of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population is 182 + 33 = 215.
Recap of cranes observed on the flight: (1)
adults + young
Refuge 0 + 1
San Jose -
Welder Flats -
Total 0 + 1 = 1
Remarks: Excellent viewing conditions and moderate winds were present all morning. Major portions of the crane area were flown in a 4-hour census, including the most likely locations where cranes could have been present.
An estimated 33 whooping cranes (27 adults and 6 young) have started the migration since the last flight on April 13. Whooping cranes have been confirmed on the northern edge of the agricultural country in Saskatchewan, and some have presumably completed the migration to Wood Buffalo National Park, a 2-day flight further north across forest lands.
At Aransas, the only whooping crane located was the injured Lobstick juvenile on its Dunham Bay territory. However, this chick seems to be doing well. It has shown remarkable recovery since receiving a major
head/upper neck injury (possibly hit by a raptor or bit by a snake). The lower neck may still be a little swollen, but the head seemed to be held normally most of the time. Its injury has undoubtedly delayed this crane's migration. But it should do fine with lots of crabs available to eat if it decides to stay at Aransas throughout the summer. If it feels strong enough, it could also migrate and would be able to find its way back to the crane summer area in Northwest Territories, Canada.
Sometime between 0830 and 1130 a.m., the Lobstick chick flew across the GIWW and was located near the edge of Carlos Bay. We will continue to monitor the Lobstick chick by boat. If we are unable to find it, then the
airplane may be used to do a more complete search.
All in all, 2004-05 was an excellent winter for the whooping crane flock. Two cranes from the peak flock size of 217 died while at Aransas, leaving 215 in the spring, an increase of 22 from the 193 present last spring. Let us hope the cranes do as well in 2005!
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