Citizen scientists wanted for counting Whooping Crane nests at WBNP

Citizen scientists
Whooping Crane sitting on nest. Note crane in center of photo. ©Parks Canada / Wood Buffalo National Park. (2016)

The Whooping Crane nesting season is well underway at Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP) and things are looking positive while biologists are in the midst of the annual Whooping Crane nesting survey. This spring, they are able to conduct their survey using helicopters, while following safe Covid-19 protocols. So in the next few weeks, we hope to know their results and how many nests were observed within and outside the park.

In the meantime, there is something that you will be interested in doing. Counting Whooping Crane nests. Yes, you read that correctly!

Citizen scientists wanted

The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), Parks Canada (PC) and other organizations are working collaboratively to investigate the use of high-resolution satellite imagery to detect nesting cranes as an alternative method to monitor the breeding population.

Biologist are looking for volunteers (you!) to help them quickly review over 100,000 small satellite images through an online crowdsourcing platform to identify possible nest locations. Your results will be reviewed by biologists and will be used to identify, manage and conserve new breeding areas not previously identified and to refine methods to monitor and manage this endangered species.

Citizen scientists
Nesting pair of whooping cranes and nest with two eggs. © 2016 Photo by Parks Canada and Canadian Wildlife Service – L. Parker (2018)
whooping crane images
Adult whooping crane incubating eggs. © Photo by Parks Canada and Canadian Wildlife Service – L. Parker (2018)

How to become involved

Want to get involved and be a citizen scientist and help out the biologists? Just go to Zooniverse. Once there, you can register, do a tutorial and once that is done, you are ready to begin your own nesting survey. Who wouldn’t want to participate doing that!

Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research. This research is made possible by volunteers — more than a million people around the world who come together to assist professional researchers.

***** 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
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org
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Identifying, Protecting and Managing Stopover Habitats for Wild Whooping Cranes on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lakes

Abstract

The Whooping Crane (Grus americana) is one of North America’s most endangered species. There is only one wild, self-sustaining migratory population of Whooping Cranes, the Aransas–Wood Buffalo population (AWBP). The birds of the AWBP migrate 4,000 km twice each year between their nesting grounds in northern Canada and their wintering grounds on the Texas Gulf Coast. During migration, AWBP Whooping Cranes must land at suitable ponds or wetlands to forage, rest or roost. The Whooping Crane Recovery Plan, developed by federal wildlife agencies in Canada and the USA, calls for the protection and management of Whooping Crane stopover locations within the migration corridor. Although major stopover areas have been protected, many other smaller sites remain to be identified. However, the Recovery Plan offers no specific entity to identify, protect and manage the latter. To address these deficiencies in information and activity, Friends of the Wild Whoopers partnered with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) within the AWBP migration corridor to share information about Whooping Cranes and their habitat needs and identify potential stopover locations on USACE properties that could be protected and managed for cranes. This partnership identified 624 potential stopover sites on 34 USACE lakes, principally in North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, with commitments to manage the habitats as resources allow.

To read the entire paper, click here for full text version of it.

One of many stopover habitats evaluated

Stopover Habitats
Excellent “stopover roost site” for Whooping Cranes. Number “1” points out the glide path for Whooping Cranes landing on lakeshore. The site is clear of obstructions and provides a gradual slope into the shallow water. Horizontal visibility around the roost site is good. Number “2” points out the shallow water from 2 to 10 inches deep in roost area. Whoopers can feed on aquatic animal in the lake and forage on insects and grains in nearby fields.

***** 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
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org
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Supporter holding fundraiser for FOTWW

fundraiser
Whooping cranes over Aransas. Photo by Kevin Sims

We received an email last week from our supporter Ali Forest-Walker. She asked us if it would be okay to hold a fundraiser for Friends of the Wild Whoopers, (FOTWW). Of course we said yes and that we greatly appreciated her efforts to raise funds last year and hope she is successful this year as well.

So to everyone who would like to help Ali reach her $1,000.00 goal in the next nine days for FOTWW please visit her fundraiser and make a donation in any amount. If FOTWW is one of the lucky nonprofits, Facebook will match what is donated.

FOTWW gives a shout out and a special thank you to Ali and her efforts to raise some funds for us and we want to thank everyone beforehand who donates to her efforts. To donate, please click on this link.

***** 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
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

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Whooping cranes visit Lewis and Clark Lake

Last September, FOTWW and USACE officials visited Lewis and Clark Lake to assess potential “stopover habitats” for Whooping Cranes. Lewis and Clark Lake is one of the 35 USACE lakes that has been evaluated and is a major reservoir in South Dakota and Nebraska located on the Missouri River.

Last week, Nebraska Game & Parks Conservation Officer Jeff Jones working with the NRM Staff at the lake reported seeing three whooping cranes at the lake. Jeff also supplied the photos below that he took. Hopefully more whooping cranes will be spotted at Lewis and Clark as the migration from Wood Buffalo National Park to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge continues. We hope you enjoy these rare photos and if you would like to read FOTWW’s evaluation of the lake, please click here.

Lewis and Clark Lake
Whooping cranes at Lewis and Clark Lake. Photo by Jeff Jones
Lewis and Clark Lake
Whooping cranes at Lewis and Clark Lake. Photo by Jeff Jones
Lewis and Clark Lake
Whooping cranes at Lewis and Clark Lake. Photo by Jeff Jones

***** 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
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

 

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