Whooping Crane Whooping Crane
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Whooping Crane Migration Update: March 11, 2005

Today's Report Includes:

Migration Route Western Flock

Field Notes from the Western Flock: A Story and a Prediction
The wild whooping cranes in the Western flock are still about 3 weeks away from starting the migration. Tom reminds us: Migration in cranes is a learned behavior from their parents. Whooping cranes are not programmed to come to Aransas by genetics. They are brought here by their parents. Last fall, one juvenile whooping crane on its first migration south separated from its parents during the migration from Canada. It spent the winter with sandhill cranes about 70 miles northeast of the whooping crane winter range at Aransas NWR. How did the youngster know where to go? This juvenile whooping crane was a record 217th bird in the flock. Tom makes a prediction about this bird. See Tom’s prediction, and then watch the next reports to see what happens! Here’s Tom’s story of the 217th crane:

Field Notes from the Eastern Flock: Winter Photos
What have the youngest “ultra-cranes” been doing since the ultralight planes delivered them to Florida in December? Who is watching over them? What are some dangers, and how are they kept safe? Take a tour to their wintering grounds with our photo journal:

A muddy 2003 crane and one wearing a PTT. Photo OM

You’re the Scientist! Challenge Question #2
Compared to the wild Western flock, many details are known about the captive-bred and reintroduced Eastern whoopers. Each been kept track of since it was an egg! This week’s challenge question asks you to take a close look at the hatch year 2004 cranes of the new Eastern flock, which we’ll soon be tracking on their very first journey north:

Challenge Question #2:
" Which 4 birds from the 2004 ultralight migration would you pick to wear satellite transmitters (PTTs)? What are your reasons for each pick?”

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Cranes in Flight: A Beautiful Sight (2 Video Clips)
It’s a rare thing to hear or see a whooping crane, but our video clips make it possible. These were taken at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, where most of the ultralight-led crane chicks have been hatched. The speaker is Dr. George Gee. In Video 1 (15 sec.) we hear and see a magnificent whooper as Dr. Gee reminds us there’s only ONE self-sustaining population of whooping cranes in the world. Why do experts want to change that? In Video 2 (20 sec.) Dr. Gee explains the work of Patuxent WRC. Listen for some ways they help endangered whooping cranes, and watch a beautiful whooper fly and land.

Video 2
Watch It Now


Photo J.Johns

Albuquerque Students’ Crane Projects
Migration is the year-long theme for lucky 4th-8th graders in Albuquerque, NM. They are using Journey North as the springboard for projects and studies. “We made timelines of the chicks’ development, created life-sized models of cranes, including a giant tangram crane the students could put together, followed the migration, and went on a very special field trip to the Festival of the Cranes at the Bosque del Apache Refuge. Although we don’t have any whooping cranes at the Bosque right now, the sandhill cranes were beautiful and really brought to life our studies.” They’ve had a wonderful time learning about whooping cranes. See for yourself!

Are you inspired to join the fun? Our Whooping Crane Activities and Information page helps with your own crane projects, such as Anatomy Study: Draw a Lifesize Crane, or Make an Origami Folded Whooping Crane.

Do you see the Whooping crane among these Sandhill cranes?
Photo Jeff Bahls
Live from the Platte River! Crane Cam Shows You the Migration
Whoopers aren’t there yet, but if you’d like to see and hear migrating sandhill cranes, a live camera on Nebraska's Platte River takes you there! Our thanks to Mrs. Kliewer and her students in Nebraska, who reminded us of the chance to see this amazing migration in real time on the Internet. Sandhills by the thousands are taking off from the Platte, and whooping cranes will soon be in the mix. (Sandhill cranes are the non-endangered cousins of whooping cranes.) Which of the two migratory flocks of whooping cranes will stop on the Platte River as they journey north?

Which of the HY2003 cranes was injured by this aluminum can top? Photo Richard Urbanek, WCEP
Everybirdy's Got a Story: Discussion of Challenge Question #1
Last time we asked: "What has been the biggest risk to survival of the new Eastern cranes? Back up your answer with examples from individual crane biographies."
Most of you said “being eaten” was the biggest risk to survival for the new flock of reintroduced cranes in the eastern U.S., citing #214 death by bobcat attack. Eddie K. of Ventura Park also said getting caught in electrical wires. Roopsi, Brittany, Patrick, Rodney, Melody, Brian, Sohaib, Priscilla, Navdeep, Tapan and Monica from Iselin Middle School/7th grade added “uneducated people shooting them down.”
It was a big inventory to search for causes of death of the 46 Eastern cranes! You did a good job, but there’s more to learn. The Operation Migration/WCEP leaders, who keep details on every single crane in the new flock, answered the question, too. Surprised? You may wish to copy this chart in your journals and use it in our lesson in the next section.

Photo WCEP
Challenges of Rebuilding an Endangered Species: Link to Lesson
Your research to answer the question above was a good start for this week’s lesson. We've said that only 15 wild migratory whooping cranes survived in the early 1940s. The US and Canada have teamed up and worked hard to help the wild whoopers. It took over 40 years for the Aransas/Wood Buffalo (Western) population to reach 100 birds, and another 18 years to reach 200 whoopers. The new Eastern flock is slowly growing too, with gains and losses each year. Why does rebuilding an endangered species take so long? Investigate population dynamics and use this chart to record your thinking:

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question:

IMPORTANT: Answer only ONE question in each e-mail message.

1. Address an e-mail message to: jn-challenge-crane@learner.org
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #2.
3. In the body of EACH message, give your answer to ONE of the questions above.

The Next Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 25, 2005.

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