Crane Migration Update: March 25, 2005
Today's Report Includes:
Field Notes from the Western
Flock: Not Migrating Yet
Two weeks ago, I counted 20 sandhill cranes along with the 211 whooping
cranes on my census flight at Aransas NWR,” reports Tom Stehn from
Aransas National Wildlife in Texas. “Yesterday all the sandhills
were gone, but all the whooping cranes were still present. Sandhill cranes
definitely begin the migration at least 3 weeks before the whooping cranes
do.” Now Tom has this question for you:
Challenge Question #3:
“ Can you think of a reason why sandhill cranes start the migration earlier
than whooping cranes?”
(To respond, please follow the
you some clues to help with this question in his full report (link
below). He also gives us an update on the 217th crane—-recently
left all by itself in Texas. You’ll want to hear why. Where
might this young crane be now? See what Tom thinks, and get your
clues to answer
CQ #3, here:
Flock: Bobcats Score Again
Crane "decoys" show young cranes to roost in water. The "costumes"
also teach the young birds this important lesson.
Sad news: the remains of crane #405 were found on the bank of
E-Creek, 200 meters south of the Chassahowitzka pen on March
14. He was apparently
killed by a bobcat during the night before. How did this happen?
The crane kids have developed a bad habit of roosting at
E-Creek. This has been their main roost site since release
top-netted pen several weeks ago. The E-Creek area offers
safe roosting habitat
at low or extremely high water levels. The chicks have
been leaving the pen
area as darkness falls to roost at this site. The area
between the pen and E-Creek is covered with such thick needlerush
that the costumed
cannot walk the birds out. The needlerush plus water conditions,
and poor following behavior make it impossible for costumed
caretakers to retrieve juveniles roosting in this area
they can be led
to safe roosting in their pen. That’s how the bobcats
scored again. What would YOU do?
Older “Ultra-cranes” Are Migrating!
All other chicks from hatch year 2004, including the 12
chicks at the winter release pen and the chick #418,
remain at their
#418 successfully migrated to Florida last fall by
following a number of experienced whooping cranes after he was
released into a
them at Necedah NWR. Now crane #418 is on his own after
#205, an older male he hung out with over the winter,
departed on migration 2 weeks
ago. But some of the “white birds” (from the 3 previous ultralight
years) are heading north to Wisconsin! In fact, one observer is pretty
certain about spotting a whooping crane at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge
in the past few days. Known to be underway are: #101, 102, 106, 107, 202,
205, 208, 211, 212, 217, 303, 312, and 316, and 317. We update the crane
biographies as we get news on each bird’s migration.
If you want to know where a bird is, check the flock
charts listed here:
chicks in florida enclosure. Photo WCEP
Juveniles: When Will They Go? C Q #4
The remaining 12 young crane kids at the Chassahowitzka NWR winter
pen site should soon be starting their first solo journey north.
If all goes
as expected, they’ll migrate back to the Wisconsin marshes where
they first learned to fly. Operation Migration pilots delivered them
to their wintering grounds on December 12, 2004. That was later than
will it affect the cranes’ departure on the journey
north? What is the average number of days the crane kids have spent
on the wintering grounds in years 1, 2, and 3 of the ultralight-led
Stop now and go here to find out:
the AVERAGE number of days each group has spent on the wintering grounds.
Then figure out your prediction to the question
everyone is asking:
Challenge Question #4:
“ What date do you predict the Hatch Year 2004 crane kids will depart on
their first journey north?”
(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)
Fourth Graders Name the Cranes
and Dominick holding the 8-foot rope
wears the costume and puppet
HY2004 Flock Names
As the writer of the Journey North crane reports, Jane Duden was
invited to visit Ms. Paulus’s 4th grade classroom in Deephaven,
MN. Connor got to wear the white costume and puppet used by the
ultralight pilots and crane caretakers. Everyone
the plastic crane leg and legband with radio transmitter and aerial.
And Jane was interested in the names the students came up with for
they will track this spring!
Photos Mary Paulus
401 Snipper--snips up treats
402 Axel--after Axel in the Beverly Hills Cops movie who's always
403 Daunte-- after Daunte Culpepper (a Minnesota Viking football
player who is big, dominant, a leader)
405 Michief--a troublemaker
407 Bossy--he's a jerk!
408-Pick--picked on other birds wings when flying
412-Sarge--a real trooper, followed directions well
414 Skiddie--scared of robo-crane, skiddish
416 Necedah--got cast off broken foot at Necedah
417 Thunder--wasn't afraid of thunderstorms like other chicks
418 Weevil--one of the smallest, stood up to larger birds, a pest
419 Princess--has an attitude and only older males would stand up to
420 Pequeno--means small in Spanish; she's the littlest of all.
Try This! Journaling or Discussion Question
The scientists and pilots know each Eastern flock bird by the unique
color code on its leg band. They know every single chick’s hatch date and
which male and female crane created the egg it hatched from. The scientists
even say the birds’ personalities often remind them of people they
know! But they never give the birds a name. Why do you think the scientists
don’t name the birds?
Mystery Photo: Is This a Whooper, or Not?
At the big crane gathering stopover on Nebraska’s Platte River, Martha
Tacha reports no confirmed whooping crane sightings from the western flock,
but she expects some soon as they leave Texas. Martha says, “There
are a few partially albino sandhill cranes in the flyway that keep things
interesting. At least one of these, maybe two, are in the Platte River
valley. So, we have been spending some time trying to confirm these as
sandhill cranes and not whoopers.” Martha sent this photo
of a partial albino sandhill crane that was seen in extreme eastern
14th. You can see why observers would have to look twice at this
Martha Tacha, USFWS, Nebraska
cranes, including one albino crane. Do you see it?
Watch for whoopers among the sandhills yourself! See:
Crane #208 with PTT on his right leg and radio transmitter on the
left leg (red/white).
Photo Sara Zimorski
the Scientist: Discussion of C Q #2
Last time we asked you to study the personalities of the hatch
year 2004 (HY04) chicks to answer this tracking teaser: "Which
4 birds from the 2004 ultralight migration would you
pick to wear satellite transmitters
(PTTs)? What are your reasons for each pick?”
The PTT birds for HY 2004 are: #415, #418, #419,
and #420. How does the team of WCEP scientists
choose the birds? Sara
the reasons here:
ALL the students who studied the crane biographies and sent their choices
for PTTs! You showed some
great thinking. You
such as fast learners, leaders who want to be in
charge, good flyers, birds that do well when left alone, birds
that are stubborn
birds that especially need to be watched. Thanks
to all the Iselin Middle School 7th graders who
spent time and effort to answer
this question. They
are: Roopsi, Brittany, Patrick, Rodney, Melody,
Sahaib, Teona, Bryan, Joe, Kurt, Priscilla, Navdeep, and
Tapan. Special kudos to Monica, Sirena, Kristen,
and Brianna. They picked #418, who did not migrate
flock mates and explained why: Last
was instead “released in hopes that he'll
join up with some experienced ultra-whoopers on
the refuge and follow them, thus learning the route.
However, the ultra-whoopers might drive him off
or battle him, and his
position needs to be known so he doesn't get lost.” Well
are North America’s Tallest birds?
United States Whooping Crane Coordinator Tom Stehn
gave us the latest whooping crane population
figures. See where the
whoopers are. How many are in each location?
Ask the Expert Opens Today! (Friday, March 25)
Once again this year, ornithologist Laura Erickson
will respond to students' questions. We are
thrilled to offer you this opportunity!
will be accepted from 1 pm March 25 to April
to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions:
Answer only ONE question in each e-mail message.
an e-mail message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge
Question #3 (OR #4).
3. In the body of EACH message, give your answer to ONE of the questions
The Next Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 1, 2005.
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