The following report is forwarded with permission from Tom Stehn, USFWS biologist and US Whooping Crane Coordinator.
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An aerial census on 03 May, 2006 of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas found 6 subadults and 0 chicks = 6 total.
Recap of cranes observed on the flight: (6)*
adults + young
Refuge 5 + 0
San Jose -
Welder Flats 1 + 0
Total 6 + 0
* Visibility was good throughout the flight, with mostly high overcast.
Remarks: The 6 cranes located was 1 less than the total found April 26th. Only 1 whooping crane had initiated migration in the past week despite favorable migration conditions daily. Occasionally a few whooping cranes are still at Aransas in early May, though I was really surprised that more had not departed in the last week. I would expect all of the remaining cranes would initiate migration in the next week, although occasionally one or two cranes over-summer at Aransas.
Nearly all of the whooping crane flock of 214 (97.2%) has migrated right on schedule. Multiple reports have come in of whooping cranes in Canada and some of the cranes have presumably arrived on the nesting grounds.
Remaining at Aransas are 6 subadults. Cranes on the refuge were located north of the Pipeline (3) and across from Sundown Island (2). One crane was still present at Welder Flats. Crane areas on Matagorda and San Jose islands were not checked since no cranes were present in those areas last week. No cranes were seen on today's flight at sources of fresh water, on prescribed burns, or in open bay habitat.
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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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/
Patty Waits Beasley
Corpus Christi, TX