Tom Stehn Reports: Checking on Stragglers
May 9, 2008
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As you Tom's report this week . . .
  1. How many Whooping Cranes have not yet migrated?
  2. What might explain why they stay behind?
  3. What's the plan for the stragglers?


Dear Journey North,

Do you know someone that is always late? We have at least two Whooping Cranes that are "late" this spring. Whereas other Whooping Cranes are
already sitting on nests in Canada and in Wisconsin, these cranes haven't even started the migration!

Who Stayed Behind?
One whooping crane was sighted at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on April 30th. There could be one or two other cranes still at Aransas. I haven't yet done an aerial search of the marshes to look for these stragglers. Also, a single whooping crane (#516) from the new Eastern flock is still on its wintering area in Florida.

Why No Hurry to Migrate?
These stragglers are cranes that are not yet old enough to nest. Thus, they really have no need to get north since they don't have to do any of the work involved with building a nest, sitting on eggs, or feeding young chicks. They can travel north whenever they feel like it.

I always worry that some of these late birds may be sick and just don't feel good enough to make the migration flight. However, they are probably just taking their time and will head north when they want to. They are kind of like those people that get to everything late and keep their own schedule. We'll keep checking on these last remaining cranes to see if they do make the migration.

Tom Stehn
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge