Migration Update: March 12, 2010 Ask the Crane Expert
Open March 19-April 2, 2010

Migration is underway! One crane from the Texas wintering ground has made the earliest departure on record, while one '09 chick has her own claim to migration fame. At least 27 older cranes in the Eastern flock are on the journey north. Meet a "Crane Extraordinaire" in our slideshow and test your skill at identifying whoopers in our photo quiz. How could it be useful for a crane to change its crown color?

Today's Report Includes:

Image of the Week

A crane can change the color of its crown from pale to blazing red. How could this be useful?
Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Migration News: Map and Field Reports

Data /Map
Are you ready? Migration has begun! One early bird from the Western flock and at least 27 older cranes from the Eastern flock are northward bound. By our next report some of them could be home! Stay tuned for more departures.

Western Flock
Tom Stehn has more good news. How has " nature's perfect timing" helped the cranes recently? What is remarkable about the early-bird crane that has begun migration from Texas?
Eastern Flock
All but one (which?) of the '09 crane kids are still in place while many older cranes are headed north. Tracker Matt tells how four cranes were captured to replace their broken transmitters.
Sightings: How Will You Know a Whooper?
How exciting to know that endangered Whooping cranes are in the migration flyways! WCEP and Journey North want to hear from you, but how can you be sure you saw a Whooping crane? Good observations include photos if possible; number of birds; type of habitat (i.e., marsh, stream, harvested corn field, etc.); whether any of the Whooping cranes were immature; whether Sandhill cranes were nearby and, if so, how many; if the Whooping cranes were flying, feeding, or loafing; time of day; any field markings that help confirm a positive identification of the species.

See our slideshow to sharpen your observation skills — and keep looking up!

Journal: Confirmed? Unconfirmed?

Imagine you are in charge of reviewing the Whooping crane sightings people send to the Journey North data base. Use clues from these sightings and facts from the slideshow to help you decide if these sightings are positive and accurate (confirmed) or possibly uncertain or mistaken (unconfirmed):

  • Dupage County, Illinois, March 6: I observed two flights of sandhill cranes heading north, one flight of about 50 birds and a second flight of 30 or so. Along with the first flight, which was circling and soaring catching updrafts, was a single very large white bird. Could this single large white bird have been a Whooping crane tagging along with a flight of sandhill cranes perhaps heading to Wisconsin?
  • Canton, Georgia, Feb. 25: For the first time in years I have noticed large groups of cranes passing over. The first I only heard, Thursday night at about 9 pm just south of Canton, Ga. Now for the last 3 days I have spotted small groups of 18-25 heading northwest.
Slideshow: A Crane Extraordinaire  

Hatched in 1978, the Lobstick male is the world's oldest wild Whooping Crane of a known age. He turned 31 years old in June 2009. Thanks to long-time observers, some details are known about his long, productive life. Read his slideshow story to find out more:

  • How do we know the Lobstick male's age?
  • What makes this male extraordinary?
  • Did this male and his mate return to Aransas NWR for this 2009-2010 winter?
  • What might the Lobstick male and Al, the Lamar-territory male you met in last week’s slideshow, think of each other?

Activities: Get Ready to Track Migration
Eyes on the skies! "We haven't gotten any confirmed reports of whoopers back in Wisconsin yet but it should be only a matter of days before they start turning up there," reports tracker Eva. Are you ready to track the cranes?
Make a map of Whooping crane habitat. Download your Arrival Log for the Eastern Flock.
Links: Helpful Resources to Explore

Cranes or not? Photo Quiz

More Whooping Crane Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Whooping Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 26, 2010.