Crane Migration Update: March
Today's Report Includes:
News: Two Early Chicks Heading North
everyone, two of last year’s CHICKS have already started
for their summer home. Yes, they are Eastern flock birds migrating
north to Wisconsin for the very first time. But these chicks were NOT
part of the flock that followed ultralight planes south last fall.
They are two of the four Direct Autumn Release (DAR) chicks, set free
in Wisconsin last October to see if they’d follow older cranes
south. That’s just what they did, and now two are following sandhill
cranes migrating north.
Challenge Question #2:
“Why weren’t these chicks in Florida, like the other hatch
year 2005 chicks?"
To respond to this question, please follow these instructions.
Twelve Others Underway: Check It Out
Every spring we follow the migration of the very same Eastern ultralight-led
cranes we tracked the previous fall. This spring we will make a map to
show the unaided journey north of our 19 young cranes. In total, however,
there are now 64 whooping cranes in the flock. The oldest are almost
six years old; this is their 5th migration. Whenever exciting events
occur in any cranes in the flock we'll update each crane's biography
and also include the news here. Which 12 whoopers are already underway?
you see the big bump on this
It's from an insect bite. He needed medicine for weeks!
Photo Sara Zimorski
Treasure Hunt: Get to Know the Flock
chick was not allowed to fly most of the very first ultralight migration
of his behavior? Last year, which female produced
the first egg ever laid by cranes in the new Eastern flock? Which
chicks were called Jumblies, Poe, Waldo and Maya? While we wait for
to begin, get to know birds you’ll be following. Print our
Craniac Treasure Hunt and see what you discover in the life-and-death
stories of these endangered birds.
on the Wintering Grounds: What's Happening?
does this mean for the whooping cranes?
215 cranes are still on their Texas wintering grounds.
But weren't there 216 last week? Tom writes us
with sad news that explains it. Why is March such
a critical month for the cranes? And
Tom mean by "Nature has a system of "rewarding" the
birds that leave at just the right time"? Get out
your journals and find answers here!
Florida, Mark Nipper reports sunny and warm weather. The chicks
are flying around more each day. “The chicks are getting
whiter and whiter every day, and their voices sound more and
more adult-like. Chicks 506, 516, 521, and 524 have yet to
lose their chick voices.
dusk one evening last week, a small airplane circled the pen
at low altitude for about 15 minutes, but otherwise no unauthorized
human activity was observed within the restricted access area
surrounding the pen.” Why do you suppose such care is
taken to keep humans away from these whooping cranes?
This! Count Western Cranes from the Sky
Photo Tom Stehn
time Tom said, “I sometimes think that every white pelican,
great and snowy egret for miles around flies to Aransas every week just
to get counted. Throw in the occasional piece of white styrofoam trash
washed up into the marsh along with white refuge boundary signs, and
our eyes have much to sort through to find all the whooping cranes.”
Climb into Tom's airplane and see for yourself! How many whoopers can
you count in Tom's aerial photo? Click
photo to enlarge. AFTER you've identified
the whoopers, roll your cursor over the photo to see if you're
Try This! Identify Eastern Cranes by Banding Codes
you identify these cranes?
to enlarge and look at the leg bands for the colors.
Use the banding codes on the flock
chart to identify the cranes!
Flock or Eastern Flock? How can you tell?
Discussion of Challenge Question #1
the whooping cranes in this photo part of the Western flock or the
Eastern flock? How can you tell?"
from four states answered WESTERN FLOCK, and that’s correct!
But special congratulations to Marcus, who really nailed it by saying:
think the Cranes in this photo are from the Western flock, because
I couldn't see a radio tracking band on any of their legs.”
Answers included comments about the feathers and the habitat that “looked
like the Gulf Coast of Texas.” But the only way to be certain
is the absence of leg bands with radio tracking devices. The wild flock
is free of such “jewelry,” but every crane in the Eastern
flock gets a leg band with aerial and transmitter. Thanks to all who
took the challenge!
Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 24, 2006.
North. All Rights Reserved.
Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our