Tom Stehn's Report: Early Bird Heads North
April 1, 2011
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As you read Tom's report this week . . .
  1. What explains why cranes didn't leave this week?
  2. What does Tom predict will happen starting today, April 1?
  3. What makes two of the families on migration so special?



Dear Journey North Kids,
Click to see April 1 weather

On March 30 a frontal system crossed the coast in the early morning and brought a little rain. This slow-moving front had created light winds ahead of the front the previous two days, and now with the frontal passage the winds are very strong and blowing from the north. Thus, we've been in a temporary lull for any Whooping cranes starting the migration in the past few days. This weather pattern is forecast to change by Friday, April 1st, and I expect major departures to occur the first 10 days in April. Currently, the Tour Boat captains report still seeing most of the cranes daily that they've been watching all winter.

Moving Fast

New! Wild cranes being banded again! More

It seems a few cranes are hurrying a bit this year. Several groups have been confirmed in Nebraska already. One of them is the family group with the adult female crane that was radio-banded on January 8, 2011 at Aransas. The radioed family group 2011-01 is moving fast. They left the morning of March 21 and flew 635 km to north Texas. From there they flew to Kansas on March 22nd. They took off again on March 24 and encountered snow and clouds after crossing the Platte. They roosted on the South Loup River in Nebraska that evening and have been there since. The family group is with two other Whooping cranes. The rest of the radioed birds are all still at Aransas.

The Lobstick pair (see slideshow) started the migration about that same day. The Lobsticks always seem to be one of the earliest breeding pairs to start the migration every spring, and it held true this spring as well.

Counting Soon
Brad Strobel was unable to get the airplane for a flight this week but is scheduled to fly and count cranes April 6th. I'll have that news next time. Most of the whoopers should be departing in the next 10 days.

Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Austwell, Texas