Whooping Crane Stopover Site Use Intensity Within the Great Plains -USGS

Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW) is delighted with the Whooping Crane stopover study that has just been released by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The study identified numerous actual sites where Whooping Cranes stopover to rest and feed during their 2,500 mile migration between Canada and the Texas coast.  There are several major stopover areas that were identified recently by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Whooping Crane Coordinator Wade Harrell. Importantly, the new study identifies those major areas as well as hundreds of additional areas within the migration corridor that serve as valuable stopover sites. Many of these additional sites are on private lands and other public lands.

When viewing the map in the report (see below), FOTWW was pleased to learn that our ongoing project efforts to identify, protect and manage “stopover” habitats is precisely on target. Importantly, the USGS study will enable FOTWW to focus our “stopover” project efforts in the most needed areas.

FOTWW is appreciative to all who were involved in this excellent study. We have placed the abstract of the study below but you are encouraged to read the entire report to learn all the facts.

Whooping Crane Stopover Site Use Intensity Within the Great Plains

By Aaron T. Pearse,1 David A. Brandt,1 Wade C. Harrell,2 Kristine L. Metzger,3 David M. Baasch,4 and Trevor J. Hefley5


Whooping cranes (Grus americana) of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population migrate twice each year through the Great Plains in North America. Recovery activities for this endangered species include providing adequate places to stop and rest during migration, which are generally referred to as stopover sites. To assist in recovery efforts, initial estimates of stopover site use intensity are presented, which provide opportunity to identify areas across the migration range used more intensively by whooping cranes. We used location data acquired from 58 unique individuals fitted with platform transmitting terminals that collected global position system locations. Radio-tagged birds provided 2,158 stopover sites over 10 migrations and 5 years (2010–14). Using a grid-based approach, we identified 1,095 20-square-kilometer grid cells that contained stopover sites. We categorized occupied grid cells based on density of stopover sites and the amount of time cranes spent in the area. This assessment resulted in four categories of stopover site use: unoccupied, low intensity, core intensity, and extended-use core intensity. Although provisional, this evaluation of stopover site use intensity offers the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partners a tool to identify landscapes that may be of greater conservation significance to migrating whooping cranes. Initially, the tool will be used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other interested parties in evaluating the Great Plains Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan.

Link to full full article: Whooping Crane Stopover Site Use Intensity Within the Great Plains


940x679_stopover_map Whooping Crane stopover















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1 thought on “Whooping Crane Stopover Site Use Intensity Within the Great Plains -USGS”

  1. The study was much needed and after reading the report and seeing all the stopover locations, it is good to know that FOTWW is doing something to identify and improve existing habitat that can be used as the wild whoopers migrate along the flyway. Keep up the good work, FOTWW and thank you for starting and initiating your stopover project. It just amazes me that no one else had thought of it long ago.

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