Whooping Crane Whooping Crane
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Whooping Crane Migration Update: February 24, 2006

Today's Report Includes:

Welcome to the Spring Season!
They stand nearly five feet tall. Their wingspan is wider than most cars. And they're an endangered species. Hear them call! Right now, the world's 280 migratory whooping cranes (in two flocks) are on their wintering grounds. They have just a few weeks to prepare for their spring migration north. We're glad you can join us!

Left: The rare Lobstick twins (named for the family territory) and a parent at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas a year ago.
Middle: Some of the youngest chicks in the new Eastern flock, happily wading at their Florida wintering site at "Chass" (Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge).
Photo by Sara Zimorski
Right: Lara Fondow, crane tracker from ICF, readying her equipment for tracking the radio-banded new Eastern flock. Photo by Wayne Kryduba

Get Ready to Track Whooping Crane Migration
Again this spring, we will track the migrations of both migratory flocks:
  1. The young, new Eastern Flock wintering in Florida—reintroduced with the help of ultralight aircraft and a dedicated partnership of pilots and biologists.
  2. The original, larger Western Flock wintering in Texas—the only natural, wild, self-sustaining migratory flock in the world.
Read highlights about the two flocks at the links above. Then dig in to the season's first challenge question and answer it in your new download-and-print crane journal (below).

Which Flock?
Click to enlarge this photo. Study the photo and you will see the clue that gives the answer to . . .

Challenge Question #1:
"Are the whooping cranes in this photo part of the Western flock or the Eastern flock? How can you tell?"

To respond to this question, please follow these instructions.

NEW! Official Whooping Crane Spring Migration Journal
Keep track of migration news, habitat conditions, answers to Challenge Questions, fun facts and your own questions with an official journal.

Keep a Journal

This journal is designed to help you predict, track, and enjoy the spring whooping crane migration.

Print your copy!

Cranes on the Wintering Grounds: Let's Go!

Western Flock
Today's report comes to you from the Texas wintering grounds of the natural flock. Journey North's Jane Duden joins Tom Stehn for the exciting Whooping Crane Festival! First, Tom got his work done. He says, "Armed with a Cessna 172 single-engine high-wing aircraft and a 74-year-old pilot who has been flying for over 40 years, we go forth once a week and try to find every whooping crane." How many are there? Why are they easier to count at their winter home than their summer home? Tom tells us about one young whooper who doesn’t know where Aransas is since its parents never showed it this fabulous wintering grounds. Why? How many chicks that fledged in Canada have survived their first winter in Texas? How does Tom know for sure? Why was Tom surprised by the last juvenile crane to arrive? Find answers here!

Eastern Flock
How many chicks are spending their FIRST winter in Florida? Is anyone taking care of them? What was new and different about the 2005 crane chicks' Florida arrival? What makes their enclosure safe from predators? What are two reasons why the chicks might be taken into the top-netted part of their huge pen? Is the chicks' island refuge easy or hard to reach? See photos and captions to answer these questions and more when you click on Winter Photo Album. See what the chicks are up to!

Link to Lesson: Making a Map of Crane Habitat
Now all the cranes are on their wintering grounds. As spring advances, they will set off for their northern nesting grounds. For the youngest, it will be their first migration without help from parents (or ultralights!). Making a map will help you grasp the geography of this migration and get you ready to compare the journeys north of the two flocks. We give you the blank maps and instructions. Tuck maps into your journals when you finish!

Next Time
We'll give you clues about individual birds and send you on a mission to meet the flock!
The Next Whooping Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 10, 2006.

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