2022 Wood Buffalo Survey Results 96 Nests, 61 Colts

Each year, Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and Parks Canada staff conduct aerial surveys over the extensive wetlands of Wood Buffalo National Park, (WBNP) that the cranes nest in and call home for the summer. These surveys occur at the end of May for the purpose of locating nests and then again in late July to count the number of chicks fledged.

Nesting Range Expanding

Whooping crane Survey Results
Nesting pair of whooping cranes and nest © Photo by Parks Canada and Canadian Wildlife Service – L. Parker Click photo to enlarge.

Parks Canada and CWS were in the air again this past Spring and late summer of 2022 searching for whooping crane nests and crane chicks amongst the extensive wetlands of the park. Water levels on the nesting territory were higher than normal for the 2022 whooping crane nesting season. However, park and wildlife officials were still able to observe 96 nests during their spring nesting survey. 13 of those nests were found outside of the boundary of WBNP and 26 nests were outside of existing identified critical habitat (range expansion).

61 Colts will make their first migration

Wood Buffalo National Park. Survey Results
Photo: courtesy of Parks Canada and John McKinnon

During the summer, 61 colts were counted during the fledgling survey. Of the 61 counted, 11 families were observed having 2 colts. So if you see a higher number of “twins” wintering with their parents in Texas this year, you’ll know why.

CWS and Parks Canada cooperate to survey the Aransas Wood Buffalo breeding population. Annual monitoring of nests and fledgling numbers, estimates of the breeding population size and annual reproductive success, respectively, have been conducted in WBNP since 1966 via aerial surveys. Record numbers of nests (nearing 100) have been recorded in recent years. The long term 20-year average of fledgling survival is 0.49 fledglings per nest (so 2022 was a very good year compared to the average in terms of nest and fledgling success).


***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****

Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

fall migration