Where are the wild Whooping Cranes and what are they doing?

by Chester McConnell, Friends of the Wild Whoopers

Where are the Wild Whooping Cranes?

Wild Whooping Cranes are now on Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada. They arrived there during late April and May after migrating 2,500 miles from Aransas Refuge on the Texas coast. Each nesting pair located their nesting site which is normally in the same general area as past years. Park records show that several pairs have nested in the same areas for 22 consecutive years. Soon after their arrival on their nesting grounds, they build their nest. Nesting surveys completed to-date indicates that 78 Whooping Crane nests have been observed.

Wild Whooping Cranes
Whooping Crane on nest in Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada. Photo by Klaus Nigge

Their nesting territories vary in size but average about 1,500 acres. Whooping Cranes guard their territories and nesting neighbors normally locate their nest at least one-half mile away. Nests are normally constructed in shallow water. Vegetation from the local area is used to construct nest.

Wild Whooping Cranes nesting information

Eggs are usually laid in late April to mid-May. Normally two eggs are laid but occasionally only one and rarely three have been observed in nests. Incubation begins when the first egg is laid. Incubation occurs for about 30 days. Because incubation starts when the first egg is laid, the first chick hatched is about two days older than the second hatched. This difference in age is substantial and creates problem for the younger chick. It is weaker than the older chick and has difficulty keeping up as the adults move around searching for food. The younger chick often dies due to its weakness. Records indicate that only about 10% to 15% of the second chicks hatched survive. Importantly, the second egg plays an important role in providing insurance that at least one chick survives.

From the time Whoopers begin egg laying until their chicks are a few months old, the family groups remain in their breeding territory. They feed there and don’t move long distances until after their chicks fledge.

Wild Whooping Cranes
Whooping Crane Family on Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada. Photo by Klaus Nigge

Friends of the Wild Whoopers will publish an update of the ongoing Whooping Crane chick reproduction and related activities soon.

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

***** 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.

 

Share

Whooping Crane Winter 2015-2016 Survey Results Released

Whooping Crane Survey Results Release

Whooping Cranes
Whooping Cranes at Aransas NWR. Photo by Kevin Sims. Click photo to view full size.

Six surveys were flown, beginning on Monday, December 7 and ending this past Thursday, December 17, 2015. Terry Liddick, pilot/biologist from our migratory birds program, served as pilot, flying a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Cessna 206. Observers were Wade Harrell and Beau Hardegree (Coastal Program Biologist, Corpus Christi FWS office). Doug Head (Refuge Inventory & Management biologist) served as ground survey coordinator and Diane Iriarte (Refuge biologist) served as data manager.

329 Wild Whooping Cranes Estimated on the mid-Texas coast on and around Aransas NWR.

Whooping Cranes
Whooping Cranes at Aransas NWR. Photo by Kevin Sims. Click photo to view full size.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed aerial surveys of the primary survey area centered on Aransas National Wildlife Refuge to estimate the abundance of Whooping Cranes in the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population. Compared to the 308 wild Whooping Cranes estimated in the Winter 2014-2015 this year’s estimate shows that the only natural wild population of whooping cranes has approximately 329 whooping cranes within the primary survey area and nine whooping cranes were observed outside the primary survey area.

Preliminary Analyses

Whooping Cranes
Whooping Cranes at Aransas NWR. Photo by Kevin Sims. Click photo to view full size.

Preliminary analyses of the survey data indicated 329 whooping cranes (95% CI =
293–371; CV = 0.073) inhabited the primary survey area (Figure 1). This estimate included 38 juveniles (95% CI = 33–43; CV = 0.078) and 122 adult pairs (95% CI = 108–137; CV = 0.071). Recruitment of juveniles into the winter flock was 13 chicks (95% CI = 12–14; CV = 0.036) per 100 adults, which is comparable to long-term average recruitment..  click on the link to see full report: Whooping Crane Winter Survey Results.

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

***** 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.

Share

More Military Installations Considered As Whooping Crane Stopover Habitats

By Pam Bates, Friends of the Wild Whoopers.

A partnership of two Whooping Crane organizations is hard at work enlisting the help of military installations to provide  wild endangered Whooping Cranes places to stopover during their 2,500-mile migration from Canada to Texas.

Whooping Crane in Texas marsh. USDA Photo by John Noll.
Whooping Crane in stopover haitat.. USDA Photo by John Noll.

Whooping Cranes have already begun their fall migration from Wood Buffalo nesting area to Aransas Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast. They normally stopover an average of about ten times during their journey. They need to rest and feed occasionally during the 2,500 mile trip.

Chester McConnell, President of Friends of the Wild Whoopers explains that, “stopover habitat sites on private lands are not as secure as they once were. A growing number of the small wetland ponds where Whoopers stopover are being drained and filled to enlarge agricultural fields.  So, we met with military employees associated with Partners in Flight, Department of Defense. Partners in Flight officials assisted us in getting in touch with appropriate officials on the military bases.”

McConnell and Whooping Crane expert Felipe Chavez-Ramirez, who serves as the science adviser for Friends of the Wild Whoopers (and works with Gulf Coast Bird Observatory), are partners in the stopover project. They are assessing 45 sites owned by the military that fall in or near the Whooper migration corridor for possible stopover habitats.

McConnell and Ramirez just returned from a four day evaluation of Whooping Crane stopover habitats on Fort Hood, TX and Fort Sill, OK. Other bases have been evaluated several weeks ago. Fortunately both of these bases have many highly suitable wetland ponds that can serve as stopover habitats. “In fact, Whooping Crane use of several of the wetland ponds on Fort Hood has been detected during the past several years. This use provided evidence that we are on the right track in working to protect and manage stopover ponds on military installations”, said McConnell.

Some of the wetland ponds will require minor management to suit the needs of Whoopers but the military managers are up to the task. Military bases are legally required to have natural resources programs and the stopover project is completely compatible with the laws. Project leaders do not request base officials to do anything that would interfere with the military mission of the bases.

“Stopover places are just as important as wintering and nesting areas because Whooping Cranes can’t fly the entire 2,500 migration corridor in one trip,” McConnell explained.

Won’t you please consider helping?

If you would like to help us continue this on going project, would you please consider becoming a member/friend or making a donation to help our efforts and some of our expenses? You can either become a member/friend or you can send us a donation by check or PayPal. Please click here . FOTWW is an all volunteer nonprofit organization and no one receives a salary, so all of your contributions go to help the only natural wild flock of Whooping Cranes remaining on earth.

Won’t you please consider helping us so we can help them?

THANK YOU!

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

***** 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.

Share

Wildlife advocates draft military to protect whoopers

Victoria Advocate reporter Sara Sneath wrote the following article about Friends of the Wild Whoopers project to urge protection, management and development of “stopover habitats” for wild Whooping Cranes on military bases.  For details about the project we invite you to read the following entire article.

Two whooping cranes take flight in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The endangered birds migrate south to Texas every fall.
Two whooping cranes take flight in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The endangered birds migrate south to Texas every fall.

An advocacy group is enlisting the help of military bases to give endangered birds places to stop along their 2,400-mile migration.

The only wild flock of whooping cranes has started its annual journey south from Canada to Texas. While an early arrival was seen at San Jose Island this weekend, the remainder of the flock is expected to arrive in late October or early November.

The birds will spend their winter in and around Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and return to Canada in March.

“Stopover places are just as important as wintering and nesting areas because they can’t fly in one trip,” McConnell said.

McConnell and wildlife expert Felipe Chavez-Ramirez, who serves as the science adviser for Friends of the Wild Whoopers, are assessing 45 sites owned by the military that fall in or near the flock’s migration corridor for possible stopover habitat.

Click on this link to read entire article:   https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/…/wildlife-advocates-draf…/

RELATED

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

***** 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.

 

 

Share