Whooping Crane Migration Update

Apr 26, 2011 | The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge by Tom Stehn | Related Press

The most recent aerial whooping crane census done at Aransas on April 13th located only 10 cranes.  Two cranes were still present at Aransas on April 17, but those birds were not relocated on a subsequent check.  However, they could conceivably still be present.  Based on observed departures at Aransas, the migration appeared to be about a week early this spring.  However, those “early birds” encountered blizzards in the Dakotas in the middle of April that slowed the migration down.

The Cooperative Whooping Crane Tracking Office in Grand Island, Nebraska has compiled 45 confirmed sightings in the central flyway since March 4, 2011.  In addition to the confirmed reports, the office received 18 unconfirmed and 5 probable reports.  The breakdown of confirmed reports by state is as follows:

NE = 19
ND = 11
SD = 8
KS = 4
OK = 2
MT = 1

Mark Bidwell of Environment Canada reports that several whooping cranes have been confirmed in Saskatchewan.  The first sighting in Canada occurred on April 11th, and on April 15th, The Crane Trust reported that the first radioed crane had barely crossed the border into extreme southern Saskatchewan.  By April 21st, 5 of the 11 radioed birds were in Canada.  On April 25th, the first radioed crane had arrived on the nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park.  Two others were nearing the Park at 59 degrees North.  Four were in Saskatchewan, while the remaining four were spread out between Nebraska and North Dakota.

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