Brian Reports: Nest Checks Coming Up!
May 8, 2009
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As you read Brian's report this week . . .

1. What question is Brian hoping new radio tracking equipment may help answer?

2. Where is Brian going soon, and why?

3. What are conditions like on the nesting grounds? How might this affect adults? Nests? Eggs? Young?

Late News From Nebraska, via Martha Tacha (USFWS): Tom Stehn reports a few whoopers still at Aransas. He will wait until local reports subside before flying to confirm all have departed. In the Flyway, I've received 3 confirmed reports since last week's update. None were south of Nebraska.

How many nests will Brian find?
Photo Brian Johns

Dear Journey North,

We have had no sightings in the last week so either cranes are still to come or they have moved on through. I suspect that they moved through, taking advantage of good migration conditions. It is snowing in Saskatoon today (May 8) so there won't be any birds moving.

You may have wondered where the birds stop at night in the final two days of migration when they are north of the agricultural areas. That is a good question! We only have a very limited amount of information. We have a few records of birds stopping along the edges of shallow lakes and on edges of rivers in northwestern Saskatchewan and north eastern Alberta — but not much else. Very few people live in those areas so there is a real lack of information. Most of what we have is from some radio tracking that
was done in the early 1980's. We are hoping to get another radio
tracking project going in the next few years to help answer the
question of where the cranes land to rest.

From where I am based in Saskatoon, SK, it's 1,000 KM to Fort Smith. That is where I go to be near the the breeding grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park. (For the cranes, 1,000 KM is about a 3-day flight.) Soon I will be starting aerial surveys to look for the nesting pairs. I hope that we will have warm weather in June when the eggs begin to hatch, so the chicks have the greatest possible chance of survival.

Brian Johns
Wildlife Biologist
Canadian Wildlife Service
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Hear Brian describe habitat condtions in Canada. >>
Audio clip thanks to Mark Chenoweth of
Whooper Happenings