Crane Migration Update: April 14, 2006
An Amazing Week
It's been another fantastic week of good news for cranes! Right on schedule, nearly half of the Texas flock left for Canada this week, and a few earlier cranes have now crossed into Canada on their 2,500-mile journey north. The Eastern flock has four pairs sitting on nests in Wisconsin. Wayward cranes #311 and #301 made it across (or around?) Lake Michigan and are back at their Wisconsin home. Crane #303, gone missing from her mate, safely appeared two days ago on her last year’s territory. We hope mate #216, now in Minnesota, soon joins her. Not seen since December, crane #307 showed up on April 6 at Wisconsin’s Necedah NWR! And the first egg for next fall's new ultralight-led flock was laid in a captive breeding center in Maryland. Hooray!
Will the Flock’s FIRST Chicks Hatch? Challenge Question #9
Will 2006 bring the first chicks? Everyone is waiting and hoping! Last year’s first attempts ended in failure. Will this year be different? When will we know? See these helpful lessons, then dig into this week's Challenge Question.
Experts Learn a Lesson: Journaling Question
Eastern flock cranes #309, #520 and #318 have gone astray. For the two HY2003 birds, it started with their first migration north. In spring 2004, they left Florida in a small group of flockmates. But the group ended up on the east side of Lake Michigan and appeared to be blocked from returning home. The experts argued: capture and move them back to Wisconsin, or leave them alone to return on their own? The birds were left on their own. Three of the five eventually made it back to Wisconsin, but not #309 (now in Michigan) or #318 (now in Ontario). They have been “lost” ever since. Now it seems that these two head for Michigan. They even have the potential to corrupt other birds, which happened with chick #520. What has this taught the experts?
Western Flock Field Notes: Tom Stehn's Report
NEW! Were They Whoopers? You Be the Judge
Western Flock Now Reaching Canada: Brian Johns Reports
Are you keeping track of the temperatures on the nesting grounds as the cranes head toward their summer homes? Dig out your journals and check the weather in crane habitat.
Do you live along the Texas/Canada migration path? Keep your eyes on the skies. You might get lucky and see a whooping crane! See the latest list of confirmed sightings of cranes from Texas heading to Canada.
The Eastern cranes can migrate north in spring in just 5-8 days, while their first journey south has taken up to 61 days with the ultralight leading the way. We asked, "Why can the Eastern cranes make the journey north so much faster than their very first journey south?"
Thanks to all the middle school age students who gave us a lot to think about! You mentioned factors such as bad fall weather, the "newness" of migration on the journey south, the birds' growing strength and eagerness to get to their breeding grounds, and the fact that the plane is simply slower than the whoopers. Marcus also noted, "Maybe there are more thermals available to them on their spring migration than on the fall one." Let's hear more from Joe Duff about these last two ideas. Read on!
Those Florida Winters: Discussion of CQ #8
After calculating that the cranes spent 106 days on their wintering grounds, sixth grade homeschooler Marcus gave us CQ #8: "It appears that there is a trend of number of days on the wintering grounds (for the Eastern flock) getting shorter. Are there any ideas on why this may be?"
Marcus and Iselin Middle School students Kathryn and Nick did some great thinking about factors that could affect the length of the Eastern flock's stay on the wintering grounds. There’s more to it than meets the eye. Scientists need to look at all the variables that influence their data, and we all have something to learn about what makes a meaningful conclusion. Find out here, with Tom Stehn’s reply:
The Next Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 21, 2006.
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