More Military Installations Considered As Whooping Crane Stopover Habitats

By Pam Bates, Friends of the Wild Whoopers.

A partnership of two Whooping Crane organizations is hard at work enlisting the help of military installations to provide  wild endangered Whooping Cranes places to stopover during their 2,500-mile migration from Canada to Texas.

Whooping Crane in Texas marsh. USDA Photo by John Noll.
Whooping Crane in stopover haitat.. USDA Photo by John Noll.

Whooping Cranes have already begun their fall migration from Wood Buffalo nesting area to Aransas Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast. They normally stopover an average of about ten times during their journey. They need to rest and feed occasionally during the 2,500 mile trip.

Chester McConnell, President of Friends of the Wild Whoopers explains that, “stopover habitat sites on private lands are not as secure as they once were. A growing number of the small wetland ponds where Whoopers stopover are being drained and filled to enlarge agricultural fields.  So, we met with military employees associated with Partners in Flight, Department of Defense. Partners in Flight officials assisted us in getting in touch with appropriate officials on the military bases.”

McConnell and Whooping Crane expert Felipe Chavez-Ramirez, who serves as the science adviser for Friends of the Wild Whoopers (and works with Gulf Coast Bird Observatory), are partners in the stopover project. They are assessing 45 sites owned by the military that fall in or near the Whooper migration corridor for possible stopover habitats.

McConnell and Ramirez just returned from a four day evaluation of Whooping Crane stopover habitats on Fort Hood, TX and Fort Sill, OK. Other bases have been evaluated several weeks ago. Fortunately both of these bases have many highly suitable wetland ponds that can serve as stopover habitats. “In fact, Whooping Crane use of several of the wetland ponds on Fort Hood has been detected during the past several years. This use provided evidence that we are on the right track in working to protect and manage stopover ponds on military installations”, said McConnell.

Some of the wetland ponds will require minor management to suit the needs of Whoopers but the military managers are up to the task. Military bases are legally required to have natural resources programs and the stopover project is completely compatible with the laws. Project leaders do not request base officials to do anything that would interfere with the military mission of the bases.

“Stopover places are just as important as wintering and nesting areas because Whooping Cranes can’t fly the entire 2,500 migration corridor in one trip,” McConnell explained.

Won’t you please consider helping?

If you would like to help us continue this on going project, would you please consider becoming a member/friend or making a donation to help our efforts and some of our expenses? You can either become a member/friend or you can send us a donation by check or PayPal. Please click here . FOTWW is an all volunteer nonprofit organization and no one receives a salary, so all of your contributions go to help the only natural wild flock of Whooping Cranes remaining on earth.

Won’t you please consider helping us so we can help them?

THANK YOU!

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***** 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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Wildlife advocates draft military to protect whoopers

Victoria Advocate reporter Sara Sneath wrote the following article about Friends of the Wild Whoopers project to urge protection, management and development of “stopover habitats” for wild Whooping Cranes on military bases.  For details about the project we invite you to read the following entire article.

Two whooping cranes take flight in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The endangered birds migrate south to Texas every fall.
Two whooping cranes take flight in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The endangered birds migrate south to Texas every fall.

An advocacy group is enlisting the help of military bases to give endangered birds places to stop along their 2,400-mile migration.

The only wild flock of whooping cranes has started its annual journey south from Canada to Texas. While an early arrival was seen at San Jose Island this weekend, the remainder of the flock is expected to arrive in late October or early November.

The birds will spend their winter in and around Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and return to Canada in March.

“Stopover places are just as important as wintering and nesting areas because they can’t fly in one trip,” McConnell said.

McConnell and wildlife expert Felipe Chavez-Ramirez, who serves as the science adviser for Friends of the Wild Whoopers, are assessing 45 sites owned by the military that fall in or near the flock’s migration corridor for possible stopover habitat.

Click on this link to read entire article:   https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/…/wildlife-advocates-draf…/

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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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Whooping Crane Stopover Site Use Intensity Within the Great Plains -USGS

Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW) is delighted with the Whooping Crane stopover study that has just been released by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The study identified numerous actual sites where Whooping Cranes stopover to rest and feed during their 2,500 mile migration between Canada and the Texas coast.  There are several major stopover areas that were identified recently by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Whooping Crane Coordinator Wade Harrell. Importantly, the new study identifies those major areas as well as hundreds of additional areas within the migration corridor that serve as valuable stopover sites. Many of these additional sites are on private lands and other public lands.

When viewing the map in the report (see below), FOTWW was pleased to learn that our ongoing project efforts to identify, protect and manage “stopover” habitats is precisely on target. Importantly, the USGS study will enable FOTWW to focus our “stopover” project efforts in the most needed areas.

FOTWW is appreciative to all who were involved in this excellent study. We have placed the abstract of the study below but you are encouraged to read the entire report to learn all the facts.
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Whooping Crane Stopover Site Use Intensity Within the Great Plains

By Aaron T. Pearse,1 David A. Brandt,1 Wade C. Harrell,2 Kristine L. Metzger,3 David M. Baasch,4 and Trevor J. Hefley5

Abstract

Whooping cranes (Grus americana) of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population migrate twice each year through the Great Plains in North America. Recovery activities for this endangered species include providing adequate places to stop and rest during migration, which are generally referred to as stopover sites. To assist in recovery efforts, initial estimates of stopover site use intensity are presented, which provide opportunity to identify areas across the migration range used more intensively by whooping cranes. We used location data acquired from 58 unique individuals fitted with platform transmitting terminals that collected global position system locations. Radio-tagged birds provided 2,158 stopover sites over 10 migrations and 5 years (2010–14). Using a grid-based approach, we identified 1,095 20-square-kilometer grid cells that contained stopover sites. We categorized occupied grid cells based on density of stopover sites and the amount of time cranes spent in the area. This assessment resulted in four categories of stopover site use: unoccupied, low intensity, core intensity, and extended-use core intensity. Although provisional, this evaluation of stopover site use intensity offers the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partners a tool to identify landscapes that may be of greater conservation significance to migrating whooping cranes. Initially, the tool will be used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other interested parties in evaluating the Great Plains Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan.

Link to full full article: Whooping Crane Stopover Site Use Intensity Within the Great Plains

 

940x679_stopover_map Whooping Crane stopover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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***** 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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First Whooping Crane in 2015 Arrives on Wood Buffalo Nesting Grounds

Message to Friends of the Wild Whoopers from Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada:

“It looks like spring is coming early to Wood Buffalo National Park” advises Sharon Irwin, Resource Management Officer. Ms. Irwin explained that: “There was less snow than normal this year and most of it is already melted.  Now we just have to wait for the ice to melt off the ponds.”

The first Global Positioning System (GPS) banded Whooping Crane arrived in the park on Friday April 17 advised Irwin.  She also explained that: “This is a 4 year old female who was banded in in the park in 2011.  Pair bonding may begin with 2- to 3-year olds and the average age for first nesting is 4 years old.  This may be the beginning of parenthood for this young crane. However, this crane is likely not the first to arrive in Wood Buffalo as experienced pairs usually arrive first.”

Some of the estimated 316 Whoopers have not yet departed from Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas on their 2,500 mile migration to Wood Buffalo. And many others are scattered along the migration corridor. Yet, soon they will all be in Canada for the duration of the nesting/rearing season which will last through September

Friends of the Wild Whoopers will watch with much anticipation as the only wild population of Whooping Cranes build their nests, hatch and care for their young.

The Wood Buffalo nesting area used by whooping cranes. Photo: John McKinnon / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park
The Wood Buffalo nesting area used by whooping cranes. Photo: John McKinnon / ©Parks Canada /Wood Buffalo National Park
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