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. Preliminary analyses of the survey data indicated 308 whooping cranes (95% CI = 267–350; CV = 0.067) inhabited the primary survey area (Figure 1). This estimate included 39 juveniles (95% CI = 33–46; CV = 0.081) and 112 adult pairs (95% CI = 99–128; CV = 0.064). Recruitment of juveniles into the winter flock was 15 chicks (95% CI = 13–16; CV = 0.055) per 100 adults, which is comparable to long-term average recruitment. The precision of this year’s estimates was improved and achieved the target set in the whooping crane inventory and monitoring protocol (i.e., CV < 0.10). click on the link to see full report: http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/WHCR%20Update%20Winter%202014-2015.pdf
***** 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.
**** Friends of the Wild Whoopers has reviewed this important report and recommends it to viewers of our web page. One section emphasized the importance of conservation and restoration of more whooping crane habitats in the state of Texas. According to the report: “… biologists are in a much better position to document geographic expansion of the wintering grounds. Conservation and restoration of high-quality whooping crane habitat in Texas needs to be emphasized in the future so the growing whooping crane population has places to forage and raise young successfully during the winter season.Protecting and conserving habitat that provides the resources the birds need on a broad, landscape-scale will help the population continue to grow and contend with ever changing conditions.” (page 5) ****
Report on Whooping Crane Recovery Activities (2013 breeding season-2014 spring migration) October 2014
By Wade Harrell, Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinator, US Fish & Wildlife Service
and Mark Bidwell, Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinator, Canadian Wildlife Service
Whooping cranes are one of the most rare, highly endangered and intensively monitored bird species in North America. The Aransas-Wood Buffalo population (AWBP), which breeds in northern Canada and winters in Texas, is the only remaining wild, self-sustaining migratory population of whooping cranes.
In summer 2013, surveys of the AWB detected 74 nests (May) and 28 chicks (August) resulting in an average number of chicks fledged per nest (0.38) that was lower than the long term average of 0.48 but within the long term natural range of variation.
In winter 2013 (Dec) the peak population size of the AWB on the primary wintering grounds was estimated as 304 birds (95% confidence interval [CI] 260–364) and additional birds were located outside the survey area. Whooping cranes faced challenging conditions due to forest fires during the 2013 breeding season and continued drought during the wintering season.
Several projects were undertaken by a variety of agencies to monitor and investigate the ecology of the AWBP population, including the continuation of an initiative to mark individual birds with satellite transmitters to track their movements during the annual cycle. By the end of 2013, 68 whooping cranes had been marked on the breeding and wintering grounds and 40 marked birds were continuing to provide data.
In addition to the AWB, other populations of whooping cranes exist in Wisconsin, Florida, and Louisiana due to the efforts of many government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, including the captive breeding centers where whooping cranes are reared for reintroduction. By the end of 2013 there were approximately 148 birds in reintroduced populations and 161 birds held in captivity.