Brian Reports: Nesting in Canada!
May 4, 2007
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As you read Brian's report this week . . .

1. Where is the flock's nesting grounds located?

2. How many nests does Brian hope for this year?

3. What is likely to affect the nesting success?

4. Which crane will Brian especially look for? Why?

Dear Journey North,

Excellent migration conditions over the last two weeks have allowed most of the cranes to complete their migration. Most of the cranes are now back at their summer home in the marshes of Wood Buffalo National Park.

A late migrating pair was still in Saskatchewan on April 30 but should be arriving on the breeding grounds any day now. The mild temperatures in April have melted most of the snow. Only the larger lakes and rivers remains frozen. All the creeks and small rivers are open.

The wetlands were fairly dry last fall and over the winter only about 75% of normal snow fell. This lack of snow and a warmer-than-normal winter followed by a cool spring has left the nesting area with lower than normal water conditions. We hope that spring rains will replenish some of the dry areas. The Klewi River nesting area was particularly dry last summer and is in need of increased rain this summer to refill the wetlands.
Will Brian find White-Red?
Photos Brian Johns

Nesting Outlook
During years with lower than normal water conditions the survival of young whooping cranes is usually lower than average. Last summer there were a record 62 nesting pairs and I hope the lower water conditions will not prevent any of those pairs from nesting; however, it might reduce their nesting success.

I will be starting aerial surveys to look for the nesting pairs beginning around May 15. I hope that we will have as many nests as last year — and possibly a couple more! I will be especially looking for White-Red to see if she has found a new mate. (White-Red is the female whose mate since 1986 died two weeks ago on migration.)

Brian Johns
Wildlife Biologist
Canadian Wildlife Service
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada