North News: Winter
& Spring 2009
Feb. 13, 27, Mar. 6, 20, 27, Apr. 3, 10, 17,
24, May 1, 8
May 8, 2009
first chicks for the Class of 2009 have been born!
See what's ahead for the fast-growing fluff-balls in
our video clip and slide shows. The last
nesting grounds has failed, but there's hope of chicks
from the rescued eggs. How close to the 2020 goal are
the Eastern flock numbers? Meet a brave crane
for Canada through an unexpected
in the celebration of an award for Operation Migration.
The journey north winds down and the miraculous cycle
of life continues. Thanks for joining us this season!
week we had 10 nests; this week there's ONE. What
happened? A new "crane
cam" from Operation Migration may help experts find out.
How did the young Class of 2008 know when they had reached
home? The first cranes have reached the nesting grounds
include Scarbaby and mate. Alabama Public Television gives
us all a terrific look at the Whooping crane reintroduction.
Next week: baby chicks?
the midst of migration, we pause to celebrate our esteemed
contributor Tom Stehn, recipient of the USFWS 2008 Recovery
Champion Award. You'll want to read the USFWS tribute. Another
happy topic is the spectacular dancing done by whoopers in
spring. See our video, study the steps, and try it yourself.
Tom Stehn explains why it's impossible for the whooping crane
population to grow any way but SLOW. He also sends the good
news that most of the Western Flock has left Texas on its
journey north! And the entire Class of 2008 is in WI!
The first ultralight-led whooping cranes from the Class
of 2008 are safely back in Wisconsin, and the first cranes
of the natural flock reached North Dakota and Canada. Experts
are trying to discover why pairs in the new flock have had
limited breeding success. What are pros and cons of those
efforts? A wildlife biologist shares how even he misidentified
a whooper in migration, and Tom Stehn helps us analyze why
whoopers usually migrate in small groups of one to five.
The entire Class of 2008 is
homeward bound. Eight nests with adult pairs incubating have
already been found in Wisconsin. Calculate
to circle on your calendar!
About half the Western flock is in the Central
Flyway, headed for better conditions in Canada. In a week
with some sad news of losses, see the happy story of Al and
Diane, a remarkably productive (old!) crane pair headed for
Canada with their twins. How far, how fast, how high do migrating
whoopers fly? Explore with our lesson as this exciting migration
Rising up and catching their
first thermal, all 7 juveniles left St. Marks NWR together
on March 30. Bev's audio clip describes their departure. Four
of the Chass 7 may be back in Wisconsin when you read this,
but the other 3 are still wintering in Florida. An
"early bird" family group has begun migration from
Texas; see a wonderful video clip at their March 28 migration
stopover. Calculate and compare time spent on the wintering
grounds by the Eastern flock. Make a prediction from a photo
story about crane romance, and count the Wisconsin
Four of the "Chass 7" began migration this week—and
four of the 2008 DAR cranes (still in the company of #216)
completed migration! Close to 30 of the new flock's older
cranes are estimated already back in Wisconsin. Migration
is not yet underway for the natural flock in Texas, but that
should soon change. Discover why very few of the natural flock
wear leg bands, and ponder what biologists hope to learn by
tracking banded members of the new flock. Our photo of a crane
and snake challenges you to decide: which is predator, which
Photo Eva Szyszkoski
Migration is underway for older birds in the Eastern flock
and the first 12 arrivals are already in Wisconsin! The Class
of 2008 remains content on the Florida wintering grounds.
Sara's photos show some of the youngest members' mischief
at Chass. Bev describes waiting and watching at St. Marks.
In drought-stricken Texas, feeding stations are helping the
natural flock, now at 249, fatten for the upcoming migration.
In the worst winter in a long time, Tom Stehn lists the pros
and cons of feeding wild Whooping cranes. What do you
Photo Sara Zimorski
Eating blue crabs is a big part of preparing for migration.
How do cranes eat these things? Our photo study takes a look.
Find out about an important discovery at Aransas NWR this
week, and read Bev's entertaining bedtime story about the
juveniles at St. Marks NWR. View a special map that shows
something about habitat conditions on the wintering grounds
as you ponder how crane numbers and nesting success this summer
might be affected. It's March, and migration is just around
the corner! Photo Sara Zimorski
The young cranes are changing, as our new photos show. What's
new? They're up plenty of mischief as they enter their "teenage"
times. Even the Swamp Monster has a story to tell about the
juveniles! Tom Stehn's stories prove what an important (and
risky) time it is when young cranes separate from their parents.
Stories of some early separations at Aransas prove the point.
Why is it best for chicks to stay with Mom and Dad throughout
migration? Meet Scarbaby, a crane to watch.
Photo Sara Zimorski
The tallest bird in North America has something special to
"whoop" about: safe arrival of the Class of 2008
in Florida last month, and more wild migratory arrivals in
Texas than last year. Tour the wintering grounds of both flocks
with our slide shows to see what's new. Find out what a water
guzzler is and evaluate habitat at Aransas NWR. Why are the
Eastern cranes banded? There's plenty to discover before the
2009 journey north begins! Photo Sara
What endangered species stands nearly five feet tall with
wingspans wider than most cars? Whooping Cranes! Our reports
begin on February 13, when these magnificent birds are on
their wintering grounds. Regular
WHOOPING CRANE SPRING MIGRATION UPDATES will be posted here
on Fridays. (See schedule above.) Download your official
journals, make your map of Whooping Crane habitats, and
get ready for the journey north adventure! Photo