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Tom Stehn's Report: Great Escape and Traveling Eggs
May 11, 2007
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Thanks, Tom Stehn!
Whooping Crane Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

As you read Tom's report this week . . .

1. Do any cranes remain on the Texas wintering grounds?

2. What is worrisome about a crane sighting in Kansas last week?

3. What's involved in shipping Whooping Crane eggs to be hatched for the next ultralight flock?

Thank you, Tom, for another season of fantastic reports!

Dear Journey North,
Cranes in Kansas: Which is the juvenile?
Click for a closer look as the feathers.
Kyle McDonald, wildlife biologist with
the Kansas Department of Willdife and Parks took the photos.

If weather lets me fly next week, I would expect to find between 0 and 4 cranes at Aransas. (Mechanical problems with the plane and a forecast of thunderstorms meant Tom's May 10 flight was cancelled.)

Whooping Cranes in Kansas
A group of four Whooping Cranes had been seen near Mullinville, Kansas. After a strong mid-April blizzard hit, one white-plumaged crane and one juvenile were still there. It's possible that the original four consisted of 2 parents, a juvenile and a subadult. The parents of the chick may have resumed migration, leaving the subadult and juvenile behind. The subadult and juvenile were still near Mullinville early on May 4th. That night, a tornado leveled Greensburg, Kansas, fewer than 10 miles to the east of Mullinville. A supercell thunderstorm produced the wedge-shaped tornado in Kiowa County, Kansas and continued to spawn tornadoes for four hours and nearly 100 miles (see map). It is believed that the two cranes continued migration with the strong south winds (20-30 mph) late in the morning — escaping just in time! I am assuming for now that the two cranes were out of harm's way, and we are all deeply saddened for the human suffering caused by these tornadoes.

Five Traveling Eggs For Fall's Ultralight-led Migration!
We're bringing in 4 live eggs from Calgary to Patuxent today (May 10) for the next ultralight class. There will also be a handover of one whooping crane egg outside the terminal at O'Hare Airport in Chicago early this afternoon. That single egg is the one surviving egg from the two picked up from wild Whooping Crane nests in Wisconsin. Kelly Maguire of ICF will drive it down and hand the egg to Dwight Knapik, who will fly in with 4 eggs from the Calgary Zoo, get inspected by Customs, USDA, and USFWS, and then walk outside at curbside to meet Kelly and the egg. Then Dwight will get his connecting flight to Baltimore Washington International, where Brian Clauss from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center will pick him up — AND the 5 valuable eggs. An hour or two later, those 5 eggs will safely be in an incubator at Patuxent. The new chicks are meant for the coming fall ultralight-led migration. That's GREAT news to end another season of reporting.

Have a safe and wonderful summer!

 

Tom Stehn
Whooping Crane Coordinator
USFWS

 

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