Tom Stehn's Report: Something to Celebrate!
Feb. 25, 2011
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A new record set!

As you read Tom's report this week . . .
  1. What discovery did Tom make at Aransas NWR when he flew his Feb. 11 census survey?
  2. What and when was the previous high population for this flock?
  3. What age is the flock's oldest crane?

Dear Journey North Kids,

Great News from Aransas NWR
The Aransas/Wood Buffalo population has set a record! On my February 11 flight over the refuge, I counted 238 adults and 42 juveniles = 280 total whooping cranes. With the addition of a confirmed report on February 8th of a single whooping crane in north Texas, the flock size is now estimated at 281. This breaks the previous high of 270 reached in the fall of 2008. The flock of 281 consists of 236 white-plumaged adults and 45 juveniles.

The Aransas/Wood Buffalo flock is the only naturally occurring wild migratory population of Whoopin cranes in the whole world, and this entire flock was down to only 15 birds in 1941. That means every one alive today is a descendent of those 15. Every whooper alive today either hatched at the Canadian nesting grounds OR is a descendant of a whooper that hatched there. Check out the table to see the progress from 1940 to the current winter.

Annual Crab Trab Hunt Helps Cranes
Volunteers in airboats are searching coastal waters here to find and remove abandoned crab traps for the 10th year. So far we have removed 27,562 traps coastwide, and 100 at Aransas! We'll continue until February 28. On page 6 of this slideshow about last year's pickup, you can see how many traps were picked up in years 2002 through 2010. Sharpen your pencil and add them up. How do you think we'll do in 2011?

Meet an Extraordinary Crane

Last time I said I'd introduce you to some of the amazing cranes that return here year after year. We'll start with the story of our oldest wild Whooping crane of a known age. Just how old is he? What makes him so remarkable? The Lobstick Male: Crane Extraordinaire is his story— and I think you'll like it!


Tom Stehn
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Austwell, Texas