Texas and Canada: Most Cranes in the Middle
April 23, 2010
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1. How many cranes remain in Texas, and why does Tom think they are younger than 4 years of age?

2. Why does Lea say there are usually fewer sightings if the weather is nice?

Tom Stehn Reports from Texas:

On April 20, the Black Skimmer tour boat sighted 4 whooping cranes on Aransas Refuge in Texas. Just as I would expect, all the adult whooping cranes have left Aransas, compelled by the urgency to get up to Canada and breed. Whooping cranes that are less than 4 years of age don't have that same need to get north. Thus, a small number of whooping cranes are still at Aransas. These remaining cranes are expected to initiate migration by the first week in May.

Tom Stehn, USFWS
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Austwell, Texas


Lea Craig-Moore Reports from Canada:

YAY and RAY are in Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP), the summer nesting grounds for the natural flock! As for birds entering Canada in Saskatchewan, it has been extremely quiet. I have only confirmed another pair near Naicam flying with 6 sandhill cranes, and a pair flying with about 75 sandhills over Regina. I have two other reports but have not yet been able to confirm them with the observers.

The weather has been absolutely beautiful with frequent south winds. I would not be surprised if a big push north happened in the last few days, with the birds stopping only for short overnight breaks. If that is the case, the likelihood of anyone seeing them is reduced. The weather in Fort Smith (closer to the nesting grounds) is just as nice as we are experiencing in Saskatchewan, which I would think will make for eager cranes. I'll be back next week with more news!

Lea Craig-Moore

Wildlife Technician | Technicienne de la faune
Environment Canada | Environnement Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada