Whooping cranes make early surprise arrival on Aransas Refuge

Four adult whooping cranes made an early surprise arrival on Aransas National Wildlife Refuge last week. Normally, the whoopers do not begin arriving on the refuge until October. Wade Harrell, U.S. Whooping Crane Coordinator wrote Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW): “As you noted on the FOTWW page, we did confirm the presence of 4 adult whooping cranes on Aransas NWR yesterday afternoon. Same general location that was noted by the fishing guide, so it is likely the same individuals.”Four whoopers made early surprise arrival on Aransas NWR.

Four whoopers made early surprise arrival on Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas.

The first report about the whooper’s arrival was made by a local fishing guide.  The guide had observed the birds at Sundown Bay in Aransas Refuge on  (September 11 ).

When the whoopers arrival was first disclosed last week, local birders and Aransas personnel were skeptical. Some believed the birds may have been Wood Storks or Sandhill cranes. Both of these birds are often mistaken for whooping cranes. They are similar in size and appearance, especially at a distance. Others wondered if the birds had traveled from the experimental Louisiana “non-migratory” flock. There were numerous questions by serious birders.

Pam Bates, FOTWW Vice President keeps in touch with “whooper watchers” all along the 2,500 mile flyway from Fort Smith, Canada to Aransas, Texas. None of Pam’s contacts had reported seeing whoopers since the northward spring migration. Bates advised, “We haven’t heard of any being sighted along the flyway or in Saskatchewan staging areas. I haven’t heard of any sightings from Regina or Saskatoon.”  So, the early arrival caught everyone by surprise.

The USFWS Southwest Region Facebook page advised “Whooping Cranes have arrived at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast. Four adults, the first arrivals this wintering season, were spotted by a local fishing guide and confirmed by refuge staff.”

During the past several days, birders have kept busy on social media attempting to determine the truth about the 4 whooping cranes. They succeeded. Now the birders can get some rest after their relentless pursuit of the facts.

by Chester McConnell Friends of the Wild Whoopers

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population of
wild whooping cranes and their habitat
. *****

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

Whooping cranes and the aurora borealis

Aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, taken at Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta. Canada

Aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, taken at Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta. Canada

Whooping cranes on Wood Buffalo National Park see the “northern lights” often. What do they think about this phenomenon? Well, to be perfectly honest, no human knows. However, it is known that birds have a better vision than mammals. Most bird’s visible spectrum extends to the ultraviolet range, so their vision is far better than humans. Birds have more cones in their eyes than people which aid their vision.

The Northern lights are technically known as “aurora borealis. The Canadian Space Agency tweeted one alert and describes auroras as “natural displays of light in the sky that can be seen with the naked eye.”

“Auroras occur when charged particles (electrons and protons) collide with gases in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, producing tiny flashes that fill the sky with colorful light. As billions of these tiny flashes occur in sequence, the lights appear to move or ‘dance’” the Space Agency explains in a post.

The so-called solar flare that sparked the display is technically called a coronal mass ejection (CME). The strongest kind, called Class-X, could damage or hinder all electronic devices on earth, this might have been one of those. The solar storm could continue into Sunday and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a geomagnetic storm watch that lasts through the weekend.

If Friends of the Wild Whoopers had to guess, we believe that whooping cranes enjoy the aurora borealis!

by Friends of the Wild Whoopers staff

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population of
wild whooping cranes and their habitat
. *****

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

Whooping Crane Nesting Area Photos

Last week, Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW) reported results of the whooping crane nesting survey completed by Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP) officials. They located 32 whooper fledglings during their survey. WBNP officials also sent FOTWW some photographs of the whooping crane nesting area.

Most people will never get to visit WBNP, Canada. And for those few who do, they will not likely get to visit the vast wetlands where the whooping cranes nest and rear their young. So for those folks who can’t make the journey, FOTWW is providing an array of photos of WBNP nesting grounds.

Click on photos to enlarge, and enjoy your journey to Wood Buffalo National Park.

In the first photo below, taken by John McKinnon, you are able to see the vast number of ponds used by the whooping cranes for their nests.

Whooping crane nesting area.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by John
McKinnon / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park. Click on photo to enlarge.

The photos below show what these ponds look like up close.

Whooping crane nesting garea at Wood Buffalo National Park.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by Jane Peterson / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park. Click on photo to enlarge.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by Jane Peterson / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park. Click on photo to enlarge.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by Jane Peterson / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park. Click on photo to enlarge.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by Jane Peterson / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park. Click on photo to enlarge.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by Jane Peterson / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park. Click on photo to enlarge.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by Jane Peterson / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park. Click on photo to enlarge.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by Jane Peterson / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park. Click on photo to enlarge.

Whooping crane nesting area.

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by Jane Peterson / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park. Click on photo to enlarge.

Whooping crane nesting area

Whooping crane nesting area at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by Jane Peterson / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park. Click on photo to enlarge.

FOTWW thanks all those who participated in this year’s survey and provided us with the good news and photographs.

 

 

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population of
wild whooping cranes and their habitat
. *****

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org