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Greetings all!

The following report is forwarded with permission from Tom Stehn, USFWS biologist and US Whooping Crane Coordinat

As spring migration gets underway, please be sure and report all whooping crane migrational sightings. Tom's email address is in his signature block below.

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WHOOPING CRANE UPDATE
August, 2007

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

An aerial survey conducted August 3rd, 2007 at Aransas did not find any whooping cranes. This confirmed that the juvenile "Lobstick" whooping crane injured in the spring of 2005 at Aransas has apparently made its first migration north ever. It had spent the 2005 and 2006 summers at Aransas. It had last been seen in a trio of cranes at Aransas the last week in April, 2007. A whooping crane reported in mid-June on Matagorda Island was not located on the August 3rd flight. It had also apparently migrated.

Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada

In May, Brian Johns and Lea Craig-Moore of the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) located 62 nests on breeding pair surveys in Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP), Canada. The 62 nests found were the same number found in 2006.

USFWS Region II Pilot Jim Bredy along with Brian Johns and Tom Stehn conducted whooping crane production surveys June 13-18, 2007 in a Partenavia twin-engine aircraft. Three additional nests were located on the June surveys. The surveys located a record 65 nests and record 84 chicks, including 28 sets of twins. This compared with 76 chicks including 24 sets of twins in 2006. The surveys were timed soon after most of the chicks had hatched to try to maximize the number of chicks observed.

Fifty-six of the 65 nests (86.2%) produced one or more chicks. This is a very high percentage and comparable to other excellent production years (3% in 2005, 85% in 2004 and 86% in 1997). One pair was still sitting on eggs at the end of the June surveys, but the eggs were overdue and not expected to hatch. Of the 9 pairs that failed to hatch an egg, 2 of those pairs had their eggs predated in May and one bird was sitting on a nest with no eggs.

Thus, of the pairs that potentially could have had chicks in June, 56 of the 62 actually did. Thus, the record chick production in 2007 resulted from both high productivity and a large number of nests. Two pairs that are well known at Aransas (Lobstick and Big Tree) both had twin chicks in June.

An estimated 4 known adult pairs failed to nest but were sighted present on their territories, comparable to the 10 pairs that failed to nest in 2006.

Thus, there are a minimum of 69 breeding pairs in the population. This number of adult pairs was close to the 67 adult pairs identified present at Aransas during the 2006-07 winter.

Habitat conditions in Wood Buffalo were better than expected with water levels thought to be slightly above average. Two wildfires in the southern part of the park in mid-June totaled about 120,000 hectares in size. The weather during the June production surveys was exceptionally warm with no cold, wet weather. If such weather continues, it should favor survival of the young chicks. CWS will conduct surveys in mid-August to see how many juveniles have fledged.

Tom Stehn
Whooping Crane Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Aransas NWR
P.O. Box 100
Austwell, TX 77950
(361) 286-3559 Ext. 221
fax (361) 286-3722
E:mail: tom_stehn@fws.gov 

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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: tom_stehn@fws.gov. 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
email: patty@ccbirding.com
web: http://www.ccbirding.com/