Counting Whooping Cranes

Wondering what is involved with counting whooping cranes?

Each fall, the natural wild flock of whooping cranes migrates the 2,500 miles from their nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge for the winter. They live on the Texas coast a few months of the year and they spend that time feeding in the remote wetlands of the refuge and surrounding area. So how do U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists estimate the number of whooping cranes in existence today? The answer: long hours in a small plane flying a grid and looking very, very closely at what is happening on the ground.

While the whooping cranes are in Texas, researchers conduct surveys by plane to gauge the status of the population. They fly several flights and while flying a grid pattern over the refuge, they have to be able to discern which birds are whooping cranes. Can you find the whooping cranes in the photo below?

Counting Whooping Cranes
Birds on the ground, viewed from the survey plane (original photo: Tom Stehn)

 

The data collected from the flights is used to calculate an estimate of the wild whooping crane population. If you would like to see more photos and read more details about how USFWS conducts their aerial surveys on the Aransas NWR, click here.

Counting whooping cranes is not an easy task and FOTWW thanks the USFWS for taking the time and going into detail on how the surveys are conducted.

***** 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.

wind farm
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org
Share

Public Encouraged to Report Sightings of Whooping Cranes

Wildlife agencies asking for help

The entire population of whooping cranes in the Central Flyway is expected to migrate through Nebraska and North Dakota over the next several weeks. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department encourages the public to report whooping crane sightings. Information on crane sightings is used to positively affect whooping crane conservation and recovery efforts.Wildlife agencies in Nebraska and North Dakota are seeking the public’s help in reporting whooping crane sightings as they make their spring migration through the two states.

Nebraska reports

If you see a whooping crane in Nebraska, please report your whooping crane sighting to Nebraska Game and Parks (402-471-0641), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (308-379-5562), or The Crane Trust’s Whooper Watch hotline (888-399-2824). Emails may be submitted to joel.jorgensen@nebraska.gov.

North Dakota reports

If you see a whooping crane in North Dakota, please report your whooping crane sighting to, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, (701) 848-2466, or Long Lake, (701) 387-4397, national wildlife refuges; the state Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, (701) 328-6300;; or to local game wardens across the state.

Should you see a whooping crane, please do not get close or disturb it. Keep your distance and make a note of date, time, location, and what the whooping crane is doing.

Reason for reporting

You may wonder why the wild life agencies are asking for these sightings to be reported. The reports are very helpful in gathering data and information on when and where the whooping cranes stopover, what type of habitat they are choosing, and how many there are.

With just over 300 wild whooping cranes migrating along the Central Flyway, odds are low of seeing a wild whooping crane. However, FOTWW hopes that someone reading this article will be one of the lucky few and if you are, please report your sighting so that these agencies and other conservation groups, including FOTWW can continue helping these magnificent cranes.

 

Wildlife agencies seeking help with whooping crane sightings.
Whooping Cranes in Flight. Photo by Charles Hardin.

 

***** 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.

wind farm
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org
Share

Birders flock to Rockport to view endangered species

by Sara Sneath ~Victoria Advocate

endangered whooping cranes
Two endangered whooping cranes winter in the marshland at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Barclay Fernandez/bfernandez@vicad.com

ROCKPORT – Colts in the only wild, self-sustaining flock of endangered whooping cranes have lost much of their cinnamon color.

The almost 5-foot-tall birds have taken on the white plumage of adulthood during their past few months in Texas. Every year the birds fly about 2,700 miles south from their nesting grounds in Canada to their wintering grounds on and around the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service surveys the birds while they winter in the state. While the service conducted several flights over the wintering grounds in December to count the birds, the survey results will not be available until later in the spring, said U.S. Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinator Wade Harrell.

Poor flying conditions meant observers were unable to count four of the nine days they had pilots and planes available. So observers plan to go out again in February to tally birds in the areas they missed.

Last year, the service estimated 329 birds used the primary wintering range; additional birds were seen outside the survey area. That’s up from less than 20 birds in the 1940s.

The flock’s remarkable recovery has made the birds some of the most famous winter Texans.

Click here to finish reading.

***** 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.

wind farm
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org
Share

Tom Stehn recipient of L. H. Walkinshaw Crane Conservation Award

Tom Stehn
Tom Stehn with his L.H Walkinshaw Crane Conservation Award on 13 January 2017. Photo by Friends of the Wild Whoopers.

Tom Stehn, retired  U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist, received the L. H. Walkinshaw Crane Conservation Award in honor of his 32 distinguished years with FWS and 29 years as the United States Whooping Crane Coordinator. The award was presented on 13 January 2017 at the 14th North American Crane Workshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The purpose of the L. H. Walkinshaw Crane Conservation Award is to recognize those individuals whose efforts have advanced our ability to conserve a species, subspecies, or population of cranes in North America. The NACWG recognizes that there are those within the wildlife conservation community whose body of work constitutes a major contribution to crane conservation.

Tom Stehn received a beautiful photograph of a Whooping Crane as part of his L.H. Walkinshaw Crane Conservation Award.

Friend of the Wild Whoopers congratulates Tom on his award. It is well deserving and when it comes to saving the whooping cranes, no one is more deserving. L.H. Walkinshaw would agree.

Tom Stehn
A Friend of the Wild Whoopers congratulates Tom on this well deserved honor.

***** 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.

wind farm
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org
Share