Whoop it up for Canada’s Greatest Animal

In honor of Canada’s 150th birthday, the Calgary Zoo is celebrating one of the many national sources of pride – Canada’s wildlife. Canada has long been known for its incredible and diverse animal population, which has been led by the beaver since 1975. The Calgary Zoo thinks that it is time that Canadians should have a voice in choosing the candidate that best represents their wild side.

A movement is growing – citizens looking for the national animal that represents the mature and diverse country that Canada has become. With a little flexing of our democratic muscles, constituents can finally vote for Canada’s Greatest Animal.

So who will it be?

Canada's Greatest Animal

Canada is whooping it up for this towering candidate for Canada’s Greatest Animal

Whooping cranes are the symbol of conservation in North America. Due to excellent cooperation between the United States and Canada, this endangered species is slowly recovering from the brink of extinction. North America was once home to more than 10,000 cranes. By 1938, the population reached an all-time low of 14 known adults. In the early 1940s, the conservation movement leapt into action.

Over seventy years later, after significant breeding-area protection, captive breeding, aircraft-led migration and relocation efforts, the whooping crane has made a slow, often tenuous comeback. There are a little over 600 whooping cranes in the world today in the wild and in captivity. Last year, authorities “estimated” the population of the only natural surviving wild flock of whooping cranes to be 329. This population migrates 2,500 miles from their nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, along the Gulf Coast in Texas

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Because of its tenacity to survive and slowly increase in population, Friends of the Wild Whoopers, (FOTWW) is backing and voting for the whooping crane to be Canada’s Greatest Animal. We hope that you will vote for the whooping crane too!

Do you think the whooping crane should be Canada’s Greatest Animal? If so, just click here to vote! We did!

 

***** 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.

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Wintering Whooping Crane Update, April 7, 2017


Wintering Whooping Crane Update
Wade Harrell, – U.S. Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinator

Whooping crane spring migration is in full swing. It has been another tremendous winter season here at Aransas NWR, but the whooping cranes are ready to get back up to Wood Buffalo National Park for another breeding season.

Whooping Crane Update

Whooping crane family flying over Aransas NWR. Photo by Chuck Hardin

As of yesterday, of 7 birds that have active satellite transmitters, 5 have departed Aransas NWR. Quivira NWR (Kansas) and surrounding areas seem to be a hotspot for stopovers this spring, with a group of 14 whooping cranes reported last week and a group of 8 reported this week as well as sightings of smaller groups. There have also been a number of whooping cranes reported in the Platte River in Nebraska and a number that have already made it to the Dakotas. Here in Texas, 2 marked whoopers were spotted on Ft. Hood Army Base this past week. The number of whooping cranes at Aransas will quickly dwindle over the next couple weeks. Spring migration is typically shorter in duration than fall migration, usually only taking about 30 days.

As soon as results from the Annual Whooping Crane Winter Abundance Survey are complete, we will post a summary on the Aransas NWR website.

Whooping Cranes on the Refuge

Whooping crane update

Whooping Cranes over Aransas NWR at sunset. Photo by Kevin Sims

Cranes have recently been seen from the observation tower on the Refuge, but it’s difficult to say how much longer they will remain. But there are many other interesting wildlife species to view at the Refuge now, including many spring migrating songbirds, so don’t hesitate to come out and enjoy other spring wildlife watching opportunities.

Texas Whooper Watch

Please report any whooping cranes you observe in migration in Texas to Texas Whooper Watch. We’ve had a number of people making use of the new Texas Whooper Watch I-Naturalist phone app as well, which is encouraging. The old saying “a photo is worth a thousand words” applies to reporting whooping cranes as well. Just be careful not to disturb or get too close the birds!

Habitat Management on the Refuge

Refuge staff burned 4 Units this winter, totaling 4,871 acres. This year’s winter season was challenging given that our cold weather windows with consistent north winds were limited and the latter part of the winter brought significant rains.

Precipitation/Salinity

The Refuge received 6.16” of rain from January-March 2017. Freshwater levels and food resources remained high throughout most of this winter season.  Salinity levels in San Antonio Bay stayed in the low teens (ppt) most of the winter, but recent rains in the middle portion of the Guadalupe river watershed have dropped salinities significantly this last week. Let’s hope we stay in a wet cycle for a bit longer.

***** 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.

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