Whooping Crane Whooping Crane
Today's News Fall's Journey South Report Your Sightings How to Use Journey North Search Journey North

April 27, 2005

An aerial census on 27 April, 2005 of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas estimated the number of whooping cranes present at Aransas NWR at 0 adults + 1 young = 1 total. The current estimated size of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population is 182 adults + 33 young = 215.

Remarks: Excellent viewing conditions and moderate winds were present all morning. Major portions of the crane area were flown in a 4-hour census, including the most likely locations where cranes could have been present.

An estimated 33 whooping cranes (27 adults and 6 young) have started the migration since the last census flight on April 13. Whooping cranes have been confirmed on the northern edge of the agricultural country in Saskatchewan, Canada, and some have presumably completed the migration to Wood Buffalo National Park, a 2-day flight further north across forest lands.

Which is the Lobstick chick? (You can see the cocked angle of the head and swelling at the base of the neck.)

Photo Tom Stehn, USFWS

Injured Chick Doing Better
At Aransas, the only whooping crane located was the injured Lobstick juvenile on its Dunham Bay territory. However, this chick seems to be doing well. It has shown remarkable recovery since receiving a major head/upper neck injury (possibly hit by a raptor or bit by a snake). The lower neck may still be a little swollen, but the head seemed to be held normally most of the time. Its injury has undoubtedly delayed this crane’s migration. But it should do fine with lots of crabs available to eat if it decides to stay at Aransas throughout the summer. If it feels strong enough, it could also migrate and would be able to find its way back to the crane summer area in Northwest Territories, Canada.

Sometime between 0830 and 1130 a.m., the Lobstick chick flew across the GIWW and was located near the edge of Carlos Bay. We will continue to monitor the Lobstick chick by boat. If we are unable to find it, then the airplane may be used to do a more complete search.

Season Summary for the Flock at Aransas NWR
All in all, 2004-05 was an excellent winter for the whooping crane flock. Two cranes from the peak flock size of 217 died while at Aransas, leaving 215 in the spring, an increase of 22 from the 193 that were present last spring. Let us hope the cranes do as well in 2005!

Tom Stehn

Whooping Crane Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge


Copyright 2005 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.
Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to
Annenberg Web SiteToday's News Fall's Journey South Report Your Sightings How to Use Journey North Search Journey North Journey North Home Page