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 06 June, 2006 of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge found 3 subadult whooping cranes and 0 chicks = 3 total. The 3 cranes still present were 2 less than the total of 5 found May 18th. Visibility was excellent throughout the flight with full sunshine.
The 3 subadults present were split as a single on Dunham Peninsula and a duo in the South Sundown Bay marshes. Recent observations by Whooping Crane Tour Boat Captain Tommy Moore indicate the single is the Lobstick juvenile injured in the spring of 2005 that also did not migrate last summer. The crane is recognizable by a scar on the back of its head. The subadult duo was in the saltmarsh where I found them in mid-May. I always am concerned that whooping cranes that fail to migrate have health problems, although they currently look fine. I will continue to monitor the remaining cranes periodically.
Brian Johns of CWS reports finding a record 62 nests in Canada. Two of the nests have been predated and a crane is sitting on 1 nest with no eggs, leaving 59 nests that could hatch chicks. Water levels look better than expected. Production surveys are scheduled in Wood Buffalo National Park beginning June 13th.
Long-time whooping crane census pilot Dr. Tom Taylor of Rockport Aerial Services has announced his retirement effective this summer. I will definitely miss his help and tremendous expertise! He has piloted the whooping crane census flights for the past 13 winters dating back to the fall, 1993.
On today's flight at Aransas, 6 small colonial bird rookies were found in patches of brush near the shoreline of Matagorda and San Jose islands.
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: 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/
Patty Waits Beasley
Corpus Christi, TX