Whooping Crane Migration Update: April 20, 2007

Today's Report Includes:

Three Wisconsin pairs now have nests! First Family parents #211 and #217 (above) have been sitting on eggs since April 3!

Migration Map and Highlights: Going, going. . .
Departure Log
Click for migration animation >>

Arrival Log
Finish Line
Migration animation >>

The Western flock is really moving! Most of the flock has left Texas, and another sighting in Canada occurred. An unusually large group of 18 Whoopers is flying together, and someone proved it with photos and video. In sadder news, the flock of 237 became 236 when a male with a long and fascinating life was found dead in North Dakota; his story will make you feel good. (He was the 29th confirmed whooper sighting in North Dakota this spring!)

Meanwhile, by April 16 an estimated 50 Whooping Cranes had reached the Wisconsin Finish Line. Three pairs are creating excitement by nesting. First Family parents #211 and #217, pair #213 and #218, and pair #209 and #416 are sitting on eggs. Will more new nests soon appear? Will other chicks join the flock's first crane-kid, now almost a year old?

In the Eastern flock #509, #516, #615, #523, and DAR 27_06 are still in Florida. Wayward female #309 remains in New York state. Crane #318 and DAR 33-05 are in two Michigan locations, and DAR 28-06 is in Indiana. Two cranes (#524 and #202) are unaccounted for, and one more (DAR 26-06) has died. How do we know this? Read on!

Explore: Tracking with Radio Telemetry Tracking Lesson >>

Thanks to the terrific WCEP Tracking Team, we know where most of the new flock's cranes are. Every whooping Crane in the Eastern flock wears a leg band with a radio transmitter. How do they work? Tracker Lara shares the answer.

See photos of Lara’s tracking vehicle, close-ups of the radio transmitters worn by each crane, and a video of Lara's explanation.

Photo Wayne Kryduba
Lara explains how she tracks Whooping Cranes with radio telemetry. >>

Western Flock: A Big Week
Read Tom's report >>

Cranes in the much bigger Western flock don't wear any transmitters. Only a very few of the oldest cranes wear bands. Yesterday, one of those cranes was found dead in North Dakota. This "senior citizen" had a colorful past that helped us learn a lot about Whooping Cranes, and Tom tells us how in his report.

Tom flew over the refuge yesterday and he brought us the latest count. Find out why it was a BIG week for crane migration in the Central Flyway!

More >>

Photo W. Gudgel
A lucky person near Wichita, Kansas, got to see a rare sight: 18 migrating whoopers! See April 11 newspaper story, photos, and video ! >>

Journal: Who's Laying Eggs?

Signals and sightings tell us that cranes #105 (male) and #519 (female) arrived on #105's old territory at Necedah NWR on April 16.

  • (A) Do you think there's hope of this pair having a chick this spring? Explain why or why not. Hint: Think about the age of these cranes (clues are in their numbers), and the age at which cranes breed.
  • (B for Bonus) Experts are a little puzzled that there are so few nests when so many of the flock have reached breeding age. What do you think might explain this?

Write your ideas in your journal. >>

Egg-citing News: "Ultra-Chicks" Coming Soon Listen! ( Bev at Patuxent) >>

Photo Bev Paulan, Operation Migration for WCEP

Next fall's ultralight-led chicks are on the way! The first egg should hatch this week. Some eggs are laid by birds living at Patuxent. Other eggs are shipped there from special places where captive cranes live.

Photo Jane Duden
Eggs from the San Antonio Zoo were shipped in this travel case to Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland April 13th. The crane-rearing buildings at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center are off-limits to the public. The new ultralight-led chicks are hatched here.
Operation Migration requested 20 to 24 chicks for its next ultralight-led flock. Soon we'll meet the first chicks of the Class of 2007. Stay tuned!
This Week's Crane Resources
  • Congratulations: Students Nadia and Eve Raise $2,500 for the Cranes! >>
  • Video Clip: Whooping Cranes Hatching! >>
  • Earth Day Activity: Measure Your Ecological Footprint >>
  • Press Release: 23-Year-Old Whooping Crane Dies During Migration >>
  • Follow Up: WCEP Cause of Death Report >>
  • Whooping Crane Migration Journals (click-and-print) >>
  • Whooping Cranes for Kids (booklets, photos, videos) >>
  • Remembering: Whooper Happenings Podcast Tribute to the Class of HY2006 >>
More Whooping Crane Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Whooping Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 27, 2007.