Whooping Cranes Love Blue Crabs

It won’t be long now and the “wild ones” will be thinking about returning to WBNP and nesting. Some of their cousins, the sandhill crane have already started their mirgration. At this time, the wild ones are still enjoying the blue crabs that, thankfully, have been plentiful this winter at ANWR.

Why are blue crabs so important to a Whooping Crane’s diet? The Whooping Cranes require blue crabs to build up their body resources and reserves for their long journey home and for successful nesting. Without a sufficient supply of blue crabs to eat during the winter, their chances of a successful nesting season and raising chicks is drastically reduced. Blue crabs are rich in protein but more importantly, the meat and shells are highly rich in calcium, necessary for strong bones and also for forming eggshells.

In the photo below, you can see a Whooping Crane foraging for blue crabs as one looks on.

Whooping Crane looking for blue crabs.
Photo Courtesy of Kevin Sims.

With those long pointed bills, the blue crab below was no match for the whooper.

Whooping Crane looking for blue crabs.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Sims.

Judge Deals Blow to Keystone XL Pipeline.


Posted: 02/19/2014 4:08 pm EST Updated: 02/19/2014 5:59 pm EST


FILE – In this April 19, 2012 file photo, a truck travels along highway 14, several miles north of Neligh, Neb. near the proposed new route for the Keystone XL pipeline. The Canadian company trying to build the disputed Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. submitted a new application for the project Friday after changing the route to avoid environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska judge on Wednesday struck down a law that allowed the Keystone XL oil pipeline to proceed through the state, a victory for opponents who have tried to block the project.

Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy issued a ruling that invalidated Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman’s approval of the route. Stacy agreed with opponents’ arguments that law passed in 2011 improperly delegated the decision-making power to Heineman to give the company eminent domain powers within the state. Stacy said the decision should have been made by the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which regulates pipelines and other utilities.

The lawsuit was filed by three Nebraska landowners who oppose the pipeline.

“Under the Court’s ruling, TransCanada has no approved route in Nebraska,” Dave Domina, the landowners’ attorney, said in a statement. “TransCanada is not authorized to condemn the property against Nebraska landowners. The pipeline project is at standstill in this state.”

Domina said the ruling means that the governor’s office has no role to play in the pipeline, and decisions within the state must be made by the Public Service Commission. The decision on a federal permit still rests with President Barack Obama.

The ruling could cause more delays in finishing the pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to Texas refineries.

Phone messages left with pipeline developer TransCanada were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.


Associated Press writer Josh Funk in Omaha, Neb., contributed to this report.




Whooping Cranes Feeding at Aransas NWR

Two whooping cranes feeding on crabs. What a wonderful way to start the day at Aransas NWR. Video courtesy of Kevin Sims of Aransas Bay Birding Charters.


whooping cranes

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Whooping crane shooting survivor recovering at LSU

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A whooping crane hit by a shotgun blast last week in Jefferson Davis Parish is recovering at Louisiana State University after 5½ hours of surgery on its left wing.

Pellets shattered two long bones in the bird’s left wing, veterinary school spokeswoman Ginger Guttner said in an email Tuesday.

“We don’t know at this time whether or not the bird will be able to fly again. We take it a day at a time,” she wrote.

Whooping cranes are among the world’s largest and rarest birds. Only about 600 are alive, all descended from 15 that lived in coastal Texas in the 1940s. They are protected under state and federal laws.

Fifty have been banded, tagged with radio transmitters and released in southwest Louisiana since early 2011 in an attempt to create a flock like those that once lived in the area. The wounded male is among 32 still alive, and is the only survivor of the first group of 10.

Whoever shot him near the town of Roanoke killed his mate. They were the only birds that had formed a mating bond last year, though they were too young to produce eggs.

Biologists believe the birds were shot Thursday. They were found Friday; the male was brought to the veterinary school and underwent surgery Saturday.

Guttner said biologists from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries are helping care for him.

“These cranes are a high stress species, and therefore the rehabilitation process is challenging,” she wrote.

She described the injury as a “comminuted fracture of the humerus and radius.” The humerus is the thick bone extending from the shoulder. The radius is the smaller of two long bones in the next section of the wing.

“The main concern now is to control infection and make sure he eats well,” Guttner wrote.

It will be at least six to eight weeks before any chance of a flight evaluation, “and that is optimistic,” she said. “There is a lot of healing time and rehab ahead.”