Whooping Cranes Dancing

Whooping cranes dance for different reasons and are well known for their courting dances. People may think that they only dance during the courting season but researchers believe that they dance at other times and for other reasons as well. If they are a mating pair, they dance to strengthen their bond with their mate, they may dance to let off tension and relax, or just for the fun of it because they’re happy. Young whooping cranes may join in on the dance and it may help strengthen their motor skills while other cranes watching may spontaneously join in the dance.

The dance may be characterize by the male fully extending his wings while bowing and raising his head to impress the onlooking female. He leaps high into the air, executing a half turn before landing and continues he body bobbing and leaping. If the female is interested, she will show her interest by joining the male and leaping into the air too. The two of them will continue this ballet and almost as suddenly as it began, the dance is over.

Last week while out on the waters around Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, boat captain and FOTWW roving reporter, Kevin Sims was able to witness a pair of whooping cranes performing their spectacular dance. He was able to snap some photos of the pair and sent them to us. We have taken his photos and created a slide show for your viewing pleasure. FOTWW thanks Kevin for sharing his photos with us and we hope that you enjoy them.

 

whooping cranes
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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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Whooping crane migration

Whooping Crane Migration
Whooping Cranes at Father Hupp Wildlife Management Area.

Whooping crane migration for the wild flock of whooping cranes appears to be well underway. Some whoopers have already arrived at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The rest are scattered throughout the Central Flyway, including a few reported at Quivira NWF  in Kansas and areas in Nebraska.

Recently small groups of the whooping cranes have been spotted migrating through Nebraska with a group of five spotted at Branched Oak Lake and a group of six spotted at the Father Hupp Wildlife Management Area, (WMA).

Father Hupp WMA in Thayer County, NE has been temporarily closed due to the presence of that group of six whooping cranes and will remain close until they leave the area. This temporary closure is intended to not only protect whooping cranes, but to also protect the public from accidentally disturbing or harming the birds, which is illegal under federal and state law.

To read more and view a short video and photographs of the whooping cranes in Nebraska on ‘Magazine Outdoor Nebraska’, click here.

Whooping cranes are an endangered species

The entire wild population of whooping cranes is protected by both the federal Endangered Species Act and the Nebraska Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act. Penalties for killing, possessing, or harassing whooping cranes or other species protected under these laws may include fines of up to $50,000, up to year in jail, or both.

Public encouraged to report any whooping crane sightings

In Nebraska, report any sightings to: Game and Parks (402-471-0641)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (308-379-5562)
The Crane Trust’s Whooper Watch hotline (1-888-399-2824)
Emails may be submitted to joel.jorgensen@nebraska.gov

In Texas, report any sightings to:
Texas Parks & Wildlife’s Texas Whooper Watch

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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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Luseland Museum Unveils Nature Preserve

by Pam Bates

Luseland Museum

Luseland Museum Whooping Crane " Nature Preserve " Exhibit.
Luseland Museum Whooping Crane Exhibit. Photo courtesy of Val Finley. Click photo to enlarge.

Luseland Museum, a museum in Luseland, Saskatchewan has added a preserved whooping crane to its new “nature preserve” exhibit.

Recent generous donations allowed the museum to expand and create the new exhibit, said founding member of the museum, Val Finley.

“We had the good fortune to find a whooper who had died of natural causes,” Finley said.

The whooper, lovingly named Gwenivere, was made into a specimen for the Museum. But the exhibit won’t be the first time the town has witnessed whooping cranes. When the only remaining wild flock was at its peak, the giant white birds stopped in Luseland on their migration between their nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park and their wintering grounds on Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

Luseland

Luseland is a small town with about 600 people located in Saskatchewan, 30 miles East of the Alberta border on Highway 31. It is located within the Central Flyway and back in the 1920’s and earlier, whooping cranes were seen migrating through the area.

Just 2-3 miles southeast of town is Shallow Lake, a slough that the whooping cranes seemed to like. It was primarily a resting place for most birds and reports were that whooping cranes did nest there until their population plummeted due to hunting and habitat loss.

Shallow Lake slough

Because of its early history with whooping cranes, in 2012, the Shallow Lake slough was considered a suitable habitat and possible location to reintroduce the species. Unfortunately, the Federal and Provincial governments decided to sell off the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration or PFRA pastures, in which Shallow Lake is situated, putting the plans on the shelf. But Finley says “since then, it appears the Federal and Provincial governments may be rethinking their actions, so we are keeping our fingers crossed”.

The Nature Preserve Unveiling

Luseland Museum Whooping Crane "Nature Preserve" Exhibit.
Luseland Museum Nature Preserve. Photo courtesy of Val Finley. Click photo to enlarge.

The Luseland museum’s expansion allowed for new exhibits to be displayed, including a nature display, rightfully named the “Nature Preserve”. The purpose of the “Nature Preserve” is for education and creating interest in wildlife. Like many nature exhibits, it displays natural grasses, trees and wildlife such as Canada Geese, Grouse, Hawks, a Fawn, baby antelope and various nests with eggs, just to name a few. All of the specimens were collected by the dedicated and hard working members of the museum and local residents.

But what makes the museum’s exhibit stand out the most is the 5 foot tall endangered crane in their exhibit.

Luseland Museum Whooping Crane " Nature Preserve " Exhibit
Luseland Museum Whooping Crane Exhibit. Photo courtesy of Val Finley. Click photo to enlarge.

“Gwenivere” is our star and we now have people dropping into the Museum and their first question is, “How is Gwenivere today?”, Finley said.

So, next time you are traveling on Highway 31, take some time to stop in Luseland and visit Gwenivere in her own natural habitat at the Luseland Museum.

Besides the wonderful educational, historical and nature exhibits, the people running the museum are friendly and more than happy to answer any questions or show you around. While you are there, tell them that Friends of the Wild Whoopers sent you.

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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.

 

Poop, Parasites, and Whooping Crane Conservation

August 10, 2015  |  by: Justine E. Hausheer, science writer for The Nature Conservancy

whooping crane
A whooping crane along the Texas coast. Photo © Kendal Larson/#sthash.22u3zsW0.dpuf

Miranda Bertram has a rare skill ⎯ she can identify whooping crane feces on sight.

She’s certainly had a lot of practice. A Ph.D. candidate at Texas A&M University, Bertram spent the last two winters tramping around Texas’s Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in search of whooping crane feces to research and document which parasites are present in the population, and if they could be affecting the recovery of this endangered species.

Untangling the Effects of Disease on Endangered Species

Whooping cranes are one of the most well-known endangered bird species in the United States. Habitat loss and hunting reduced their population to just 16 birds in 1941. In the 1970s scientists began captive breeding programs, where captive-raised cranes were eventually released back into the wild to bolster the population.

Today there are 308 wild whooping cranes in the Aransas population, which accounts for the the vast majority of wild whoopers, and they winter in just a few brackish marshes along a narrow strip of the Texas coast. The Aransas population is growing ⎯ 39 juveniles were counted in last winter’s survey ⎯ but whoopers still have a long way to go before the population can be considered stable.

“The population is definitely fragile,” says Bertram, “and at a point where it’s highly susceptible to disease or other catastrophic events.”

Knowing what diseases a species is susceptible to, and what affect those diseases have on a population is critical for conservation efforts.

Read the entire article here at Cool Green Science, The Science blog of The Nature Conservancy.

Interested in reading the entire “Abstract”? Click here. 

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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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