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
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
the northern edge of the agricultural country in Saskatchewan, Canada, and some
completed the migration to Wood
Buffalo National Park, a 2-day flight further
north across forest lands.
is the Lobstick chick? (You can see the cocked angle of the head
and swelling at the base of
Photo Tom Stehn, USFWS
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.
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
the spring, an increase of 22 from the 193 that were present last spring.
Let us hope the cranes do as well in 2005!
Whooping Crane Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
2005 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.
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