USFWS Whooping Crane Migration Update

Dr. Wade Harrell, U.S. Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinator reports that most of the Aransas/Wood Buffalo flock of whooping cranes is now on their way to their Canadian nesting grounds. The Aransas/Wood Buffalo flock is the only remaining self-supporting flock on planet earth.

Whooping Crane Migration Map

Whooping Crane current and former range and migration corridors.

Dr. Harrell advised that, “Whooping crane migration is well underway. We estimate that less than 20% of the population is still on the Texas coast wintering area and that number should quickly dwindle over the next week or so. A significant portion of the population appears to have made it across the border into Canada. Right now we have whooping cranes spread out from the wintering grounds nearly to the breeding grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park. Though the cranes seem to leave in mass, they actually have staggered departures and leave in small groups. This is important as it ensures survival of the species. If they were to all leave together and encountered bad weather or some other catastrophic event, it could put the whole population in jeopardy.”

Harrell also explained that GPS tracking of the whoopers continues. He described that “As of Sunday, April 21, four of the marked birds that we are actively receiving data on were still on the coast. Of those in migration, 12 were in Saskatchewan, eight in the Dakotas, four in Nebraska, two in Oklahoma and one in Texas. Based on this information and other observations, it is likely that more than 80% of the birds in the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population are currently migrating north.”  See Wade Harrell’s full “whooping Crane Update report at: http://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147549010

For additional information about the Aransas/Wood Buffalo flock migration go to: http://friendsofthewildwhoopers.org/whooping-cranes-migrating-back-canadian-nesting-ground/

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