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.
FOTWW’s President Chester McConnell and his lovely wife Dorothy
by Pam Bates
Dorothy and Chester McConnell attended a service for the “Blessing of the Animals” today at the Providence United Methodist Church, Spanish Fort Alabama. David Hendrix, Pastor officiated the service. This service was originally initiated many years ago by St. Francis of Assisi. Dorothy and Chester are members of Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW) and Chester is President of our organization. The service was well attended by dog owners but the McConnell’s took their painting of “Whoopers Headed north” by artist Dale Wilkins. Chester responded to pastor Hendrix’ invitation and explained about the status of Whooping Cranes and FOTWW’s efforts to protect and manage their habitats.
An excerpt from the service bulletin follows.
A SERVICE FOR THE BLESSING OF ANIMALS
GATHERING AND GREETING
The animals of God’s creation inhabit the skies, the earth, and the sea.
They share in the fortunes of human existence and have a part in human life.
God, who confers gifts on all living things, has often used the service of animals or made them reminders of the gifts of salvation.
Animals were saved from the flood and afterwards made a part of the covenant with Noah.
The paschal lamb recalls the passover sacrifice and the deliverance from slavery in Egypt.
A giant fish saved Jonah;
ravens brought bread to Elijah;
(1 KINGS 17:6)
animals were included in the repentance of Nineveh;
and animals share in Christ’s redemption of all God’s creation.
We, therefore, invoke God’s blessing on these animals. As we do so, let us praise the Creator and thank God for setting us as stewards over all the creatures of the earth.