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In 1993, a color-banded pair of adult whooping cranes established a winter territory in the salt marsh out on the Lamar Peninsula, across the bay from Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and in front of the Johnson Ranch property. That same pair returned together every fall until 2011. Their official name was the Lamar pair, but I call them Al and Diane. The two cranes first nested as 7-year-olds in 1993. They did not bring a chick to Aransas the first two times they nested. That is typical for inexperienced Whooping crane parents. But the record was about to change!

Photo Joe Fischer