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Mohawk's Story: Fate Unknown
Tom Stehn, USFWS

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In December 2008, a juvenile whooping crane, all by itself, was seen by the refuge boat ramp. Refuge visitors reported seeing this same bird. After mapping the location of all the cranes on an aerial census flight, I noticed that a pair of adult cranes about 2 miles away no longer had their juvenile with them. For some unknown reason, the juvenile had split off from its parents. However, this juvenile often fed on a prairie area that our refuge had burned. (We use fire as a tool to manage the habitat in a good way.) Then the juvenile started looking for food right on the edge of the Wildlife Drive, a road on the refuge. Feeding on the edge of a road and allowing cars to get close to it was abnormal behavior; something was wrong.

We nicknamed the bird “Mohawk” since he still had a lot of rusty brown feathers, and a dark streak down the neck and back like a “Mohawk.” Since sometimes juveniles separate from their parents when they are sick, I was very worried. But Mohawk was alert, had lots of energy, and flew strongly when I went out to look at him. However, he was not getting enough to eat.

After a couple of weeks, Mohawk moved to a pasture just north of Aransas and has not been seen since. What do you think happened to Mohawk? I hope I find out.

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.