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?


***** 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.