Whooping cranes return to Coastal Bend

Whooping Cranes

This family of whooping cranes was at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge last winter. Notice the cinnamon plumage on the juvenile walking behind its parents.(Photo: David Sikes)

After a record hatch at Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada, an estimated 431 endangered whooping cranes are making their way into the marshes of and around the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Canada wildlife officials earlier reported 98 nests within Wood Buffalo National Park, which produced 63 fledglings. The old fledgling record set in 2006 was 49. Lush wetlands in Canada helped produce this record hatch, according to Chester A. McConnell, president of Friends of the Wild Whoopers. Salinity and marsh conditions at the Aransas refuge are favorable again this year.

The population’s health and continued growth relies on good habitat at their nesting site, in their wintering grounds, and everywhere in between, according to McConnell, who has been negotiating with military officials to enhance wetlands along the crane’s migratory route. And he’s garnered much cooperation.

Marsh conditions appear to be healthy, despite enduring a thrashing from Hurricane Harvey. The last time heavy rainfall inundated the birds’ wintering habitat the explosions of crabs and shrimp created a boon for whoopers and other wildlife.

To read David Sikes’ of The Corpus Christi Caller-Times article “Record number of whooping cranes expected to spend winter in the Coastal Bend”, click here.

 

***** 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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431 Wild Whooping cranes estimated on Aransas NWR primary survey area

 2016 Whooping Crane Winter Survey Results Released

Whooping Crane Winter Survey

Whooping Cranes at Aransas NWR. Photo by Kevin Sims. Click photo to view full size.

Once again, Terry Liddick, pilot/biologist from our Migratory Birds program, served as a pilot, flying a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Cessna 206. This year Phil Thorpe also served as a pilot, flying a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wheeled Kodiak. Observers were Wade Harrell, Jena Moon (Refuges Inventory and Monitoring biologist), Doug Head (Refuges Inventory and Monitoring biologist) and Stephen LeJeune (Chenier Plains Refuge Complex Fire Program). Doug Head (Refuge Inventory and Management biologist) served as survey coordinator.

431 Wild Whooping Cranes Estimated on the mid-Texas coast on and around Aransas NWR.

Whooping Crane Winter Survey

Whooping crane family at Aransas National WIldlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of Kevin Sims.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated 431 whooping cranes in the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population inhabited the primary survey area  for the winter of 2016–2017.
Whooping Crane Winter Survey

Whooping Cranes at Aransas NWR. Photo by Kevin Sims. Click photo to view full size

Survey results indicated 431 whooping cranes (95% CI = 371.1–492.7; CV = 0.101) inhabited the primary survey area (Figure 1). This estimate included 50 juveniles (95% CI = 36.3–60.9; CV = 0.144) and 162 adult pairs (95% CI = 139.2–185.5; CV = 0.100). Recruitment of juveniles into the winter flock was 13.1 chicks (95% CI = 10.4–16.6; CV = 0.119) per 100 adults, which is comparable to long-term average recruitment. The precision of this year’s estimate 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: Whooping Crane Winter Survey Results.

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friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

***** 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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