Whooping Crane Migration Update: February 29, 2000
Overview of the Season
Each spring the entire flock of wild whooping cranes takes the annual 2,700 mile journey from the species' wintering grounds in Texas to its nesting grounds in northern Canada. The cranes usually arrive in late April or early May, just as ice and snow are melting from the marshes.
Tom Stehn, Refuge Biologist at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Austwell, Texas, will provide updates this spring as the cranes begin their journey. When the migration is underway, weekly weather reports and migration news will be shared once again this year by Wally Jobman. Wally is based at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Grand Island, NE. Finally, from the far north, each spring Canadian biologist Brian Johns, of the Canadian Wildlife Service, shares the excitement when the cranes arrive once again on their ancient nesting grounds. We hope you enjoy traveling with the whooping cranes this spring!
Latest News from the Wintering Grounds
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
February 29, 2000
Dear Journey North,
This year has been a struggle for the whooping cranes, with difficult habitat conditions both summer and winter. However, the flock has managed to INCREASE their numbers by TWO to reach 185, a record number.
Why Only Two More Whooping Cranes?
Below is a brief chronology of the whooping cranes' year. I begin on the nesting grounds--with the birth of last summer's young--and go through all phases of their lives leading up to the present. As you read about the many challenges the cranes face make a list, then see if you can answer this question:
Why the Texas Coast?
The freshwater ponds inland, created by rain and ranging in size from puddles
to lakes, are a haven for alligators, turtles, frogs, snakes and birds such as pelicans,
egrets, spoonbills, ducks, and geese. In the winter, the world's only wild flock
of Whooping Cranes lives in the saltwater marshes. Aransas is heavenly habitat for
thousands of migratory birds of more than 389 species.
Here's a photo of Tom and his birds' eye view from a
recent flight over crane country, as well as a map of this 54,829-acre refuge where
Anatomy and Adaptation: Are Cranes' Knees Bending Backwards?
A Story That Sticks
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The Next Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 14, 2000.
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