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Whooping Crane Migration Update: April 21, 2006

Today's Report Includes:

A good day for migrating!

Migration Highlights
The migration of the Western Flock from Texas to Canada is in full swing. None has reached the nesting grounds yet, but only 12 remain in Texas. In news from the Eastern flock, two more crane-kids completed migration, and a fifth nest with eggs was discovered! Three older cranes—two in previously unknown locations and one with an injury—are also home in Wisconsin. Read on for photos, your Challenge Question, more details and fun!

Eastern Flock Field Notes: Everybirdy's Busy

At 4:00 PM April 19, the radio signals #511 and #521 were detected over Necedah NWR. These youngsters, not tracked since March 30, had just completed their first spring migration!

In more good news, two of the three Eastern cranes whose locations were unknown were seen Tuesday in Adams County, Wisconsin. They are 5-year-old females #102 and #107. And guess who else came home? Male #216, the missing mate of #303, flew from Minnesota back to his Wisconsin territory on April 18! That's the good news.

There's also not-so-good news about crane #216. He appears to be injured. Read details and consider what might be next for him:

  • Crane #216 Comes Home, But What Lies Ahead?On April 14 the Eastern flock's fifth nest of the season was found! Crane pair #209 and #302 is sitting on a nest in their Monroe County territory, not far from the core area at Necedah NWR. Everyone continues to wait and hope for the flock's very first chicks to be hatched!

The 5th nest is here!

Photo Richard Urbanek, ICF, USFSW

Challenge Question #10: The Case of the Missing Eggs

What's up with the nests we reported last week? On April 16 both members of whooping crane pair #101 and #202 were seen foraging together. Ditto for pair #317-#203. Why was this a tip-off to trouble? With the cranes away, experts from the crane team were able to check the nests. What did they find?

Like human babies, whooping crane eggs don't come with instructions. Parents have to learn from practice. What mistakes might they make, and what lessons might they learn? See:

Challenge Question #10:
Which crane pair that nested in 2005 and 2006 has not yet learned how to keep eggs safe? Based on your work in Nesting Errors: Learning from Mistakes, why do you think they're having trouble keeping eggs safe?”

To respond to this question, please follow these instructions.

NOTE: Sara Zimorski told us the remaining 3 crane pairs are doing well so far, sitting tight and being very attentive to their nest/egg(s).

Taking Inventory: Where Are the Crane Kids?
Just 3 of the ultralight-led chicks haven't made it back yet. But chick #520, led astray by wandering adult #309, may soon be back where he belongs. Since last week's report the two have wandered into Ontario, Canada and back into New York. Crane Team member Sara reports that the team is working on plans to go catch #520 and #309 in NY, maybe early next week. If captured, the two wayward cranes will be brought back to their Wisconsin summer home. In updating #520's migration map, Journey North's Mary exclaimed, “Oh, it is so fun to make maps! Look where that #520 has gone!”

The survival story continues for reach of the flock's 64 cranes. Here's the latest on the migration status of the four Direct Autumn Release (DAR) chicks and the older birds of the Eastern Flock:

Western Flock Almost Gone: Tom Stehn Reports

“The big push-off of cranes heading north has occurred right on schedule. And why not? The weather in Texas has been windy and warm all week, perfect conditions to help the cranes migrate,” says Tom. Since last week’s count, how many have headed north to Canada? As in most years, all the adults were gone by April 20.That leaves just 12 birds. What do they all have in common? Why does it happen that way? See Tom’s full report, and also look for Tom’s idea of the very special talents of young cranes and YOU! It's here:

How’s the Weather?
Deadwood, SD had six feet of snow yesterday. Is that on the cranes’ migration route? How might large amounts of snow affect migrating cranes? Are you keeping track of the temperatures on the nesting grounds as the cranes head toward their summer homes?

Western Flock Nears Nesting Grounds: Brian Johns Reports


Biologist Brian Johns is on duty, awaiting the first whooping crane arrivals to the vast wilderness of Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park for another breeding season. North winds made it a poor week for migration; just one new report came in. This pair of cranes is 2 or 3 days flying distance from the breeding grounds, and the migrants reported a week ago should be arriving this week. Why was yesterday a good day for migration? How far can the cranes fly in a day? Brian tells you in his full report. He also reminds us that whooping cranes will be performing their magnificent courtship dance as they pass through the Canadian Prairies. The video is here, in Brian’s full report:

Meet Brian Johns at the whoopers' Canadian Nesting Grounds!

Will the Eastern Flock’s FIRST Chicks Hatch? Discussion of CQ #9
Last week we celebrated that four pairs from the new Eastern flock were sitting on eggs. We asked:
“ When will the chicks hatch for these 4 whooping crane pairs?"
Pair 101 and 202: began incubating April 7
Pair 213 and 218: began incubating April 6
Pair 203 and 317: began incubating April 7
Pair 211 and 217: began incubating April 11

Students from Vermont’s Ferrisburgh Central and homeschooler Marcus all came up with the same hatch dates. Here are their answers, plus something else to consider about eggs laid in the wild compared to eggs laid in captivity:

The Next Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 28, 2006.

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