Whooping Crane Migration Update: March 6, 2009

Today's Report Includes:

  • Where Are They Now? All Is Quiet on the Wintering Grounds >>
  • News: Reports From the Field >>
  • Journal Topic: Drought in the Habitat >>
  • Smart and Safe: Q and A With Tom Stehn >>
  • Links: This Week's Crane Resources >>

How do crane chicks learn to eat their favorite food: big blue crabs? >>
Photo Alan Murphy

Where Are They Now? All Is Quiet on the Wintering Grounds NEWS FLASH! After this report was posted, a sighting of pair #415 and mate #505 in Indiana announce that spring migration is starting! This pair wintered in TN, so they're clearly on their way back to Wisconsin.

The Western (natural) flock's estimated 266 cranes are still wintering in Texas. That will soon change!

The Eastern Flock's estimated 87 cranes are still overwintering in these states. Three "early birds" are likely migrating.
News: Reports from the Field


Photo Mark Chenoweth

Western Flock News>>
What important discovery was made this week at Aransas NWR? Why is Tom Stehn taking this wild juvenile to the vet?

"We've been through these bad winters before. The strong ones will tough it out and pass their genes on."

—Tom Stehn

Eastern Flock News>>
Winter monitor Bev tells another great bedtime story about the crane-kids at St. Marks. (Next time: news about the crane-kids at Chass.)

In Texas with the Western (natural) flock, Tom Stehn tells status and stories of the whoopers he's observed for over 30 years. In Florida watching over the Class of 2008 are Sara, Eva, Brooke and Bev. They share photos, crane mischief, and news from the two Florida release sites.

Journal Topic: Drought in Crane Habitat A Closer Look >>

Read the map title and legend below. Locate the main wintering grounds of the Eastern flock and the Western flock. (Also see: A Closer Look.)


  • What things does good habitat provide? How do you think habitat conditions on the wintering grounds will affect (1) crane numbers and (2) the number of chicks that will hatch on the nesting grounds this summer?

Write your thoughts in your Journey North Whooping Crane Journal. >>

Smart and Safe: Q and A With Tom Stehn

Last week Tom Stehn asked you to think about the two questions below. How do his answers compare to your ideas?

Q.How do whooping cranes stay safe from predators when they are sleeping at night?
A. Whooping cranes always spend the night standing in shallow water out in the open. That way, no predator can approach the sleeping cranes without making noise splashing through the water and waking the cranes up.

Q. How would a whooping crane be able to fight off something as
big as a coyote?

A. The whooping crane is very fast and has a very strong beak. There is a documented record of a whooping crane killing a coyote by striking it in the head. Whenever I see coyotes get close to whooping cranes, the cranes get very alarmed, raise up to their full 5-foot height, whoop loudly, and look very threatening. The coyote always looks for a few seconds and then wisely decides to slink off without approaching the cranes.

Coming Soon: Track the Migration
With the help of trackers' reports , you'll see the migration progress of both flocks — ALL the world's migratory Whooping cranes — live on our MapServer starting in March.
Click for migration animation >>
Click for migration animation >>
This Week's Crane Resources
  • Photo Study: How Do Cranes Eat Crabs? >>
  • Evalute Habitat Conditions: Drought in Whooping Crane Habitat >>
  • Lesson: What is Roosting? >>
  • Listening: How Does a Whooping Crane Sound? >>
  • Meet Student Craniacs: Classrooms in Action >>
  • Teachers: Getting Started >>
More Whooping Crane Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Whooping Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 20, 2009.