Whooping Crane Migration Update: May 1, 2009

Today's Report Includes:

  • News: Reports and Photos From the Field >>
  • Nesting News: From Ten Nests to One >>
  • Nesting Research: Help from New Video Camera >>
  • Journal Topic: Finding Home >>
  • Video: A Look Back With Alabama Public Television >>
  • Year-end Evaluation: Please Share Your Thoughts! >>
  • Links: This Week's Crane Resources >>

Coming Soon?
The eggs of pair #309 and #403 are due to hatch on May 5th at Necedah NWR! In addition, eggs will soon be hatching in Maryland's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center for the Class of 2008.
News next week!
Photo Vickie Henderson

News: Reports and Photos from the Field

Click to enlarge. Do you see the nesting area in northern Canada?

Photo Sara Zimorski
Western Flock News >>

The first cranes are on the Canadian nesting grounds, and only 11 cranes remain in Texas. What's the problem with Scarbaby and his mate still being in Texas?

How many are home now? Who are the Eastern flock's latest arrivals?

Eastern Flock News >>

Of ten nests a week ago, only one active nest remains.
But what's the good news?

Nesting News: From Ten Nests to One 2009 Nesting Chart >>

Photo Heather Ray, Operation Migration
The photo was taken from about a half mile away so as not to disturb the nesting birds.

Look closely at the photo. All hopes are now pinned on this pair of cranes, whose eggs are due to hatch on May 5th if they stay on the nest.

"Can you see the one sitting on the nest?" asks Heather. "Whooping cranes are so stately and beautiful when standing that it seems odd to see one sitting. We got to see 3 nest exchanges while observing this pair, #309 and #403. Here's what happens: The mate will walk very purposefully over to the incubating bird and after a couple of minutes the sitting bird will stand. There's some wing flapping and the pair unison calls together. Then the bird that walked over settles down on the eggs, while the other bird picks up and tosses some vegetation toward the nest and does some last minute touch-ups before walking off to forage. Very cool!"

Next, find out why Operation Migration's Heather and Joe were there:

Nesting Research: Help from New Video Camera About the Crane Cam >>
An eye in the sky: new video camera aids crane research at Necedah NWR. >>
Photo Richard Urbanek, USFWS
Have black flies driven pairs off their nests?

This spring at least 12 breeding pairs of Wisconsin Whooping cranes established territories, built nests, and laid eggs. By April 28, after two very warm days, 11 of the 12 pairs had abandoned their nests. A similar thing happened last year.

WCEP is investigating the cause of the nest abandonments. Experts will analyze data collected throughout the nesting period. They are studying

  • the behavior of nesting cranes,
  • temperature,
  • food availability, and
  • black fly abundance and distribution.

Some wonder, for example, if black flies that emerged on two hot days last week bothered the cranes right off their nests. Operation Migration's brand new video camera, set up by Heather and Joe, is now helping to keep an eye on the nest of #309 and #403 at Necedah NWR.

Journal Topic: Finding Home Listen! Joe Duff's Thoughts >>

Crane #819 was 10 months old when he found his way back to Wisconsin on his first solo migration. How do you think he (and all his classmates) knew where and when to stop? Listen to Joe's audio clip and read Tom Stehn's comments to help you think about today's questions:

  • How do the birds know when they've reached home? How might this week's sighting of #819 in North Dakota be explained?

List your ideas in your journal. >>

Where has #819 (above) wandered?
Video: A Look Back With Alabama Public Television
Link to Video/APT >> 

You recall that last fall, ultralight planes led the chicks south on a new route that passed for the first time through Alabama. The state was a wonderful host. Alabama Public Television (APT) is educating citizens about Whooping cranes through a TV program airing May 17 at 8 p.m. and May 26 at 8 p.m. You can see it NOW online!

Journey North students at Avondale Elementary appeared in the APT video. Better yet, Operation Migration Pilot Brooke and Field Manager Bev visited Mrs. Kelley's Grade 1 during a nearby migration stopover. See photos at Classrooms in Action: >>

By Alabama Public TV:
"Flying Over Alabama: The Whooping Crane Story"

Year-end Evaluation: Please Share Your Thoughts

Will you take a few minutes to complete our Year-end Evaluation?

With your help, we can we document Journey North's reach, impact and value. We need comments like yours to keep the program going and growing.

Thank you! >>

Year-end Evaluation
This Week's Crane Resources
  • Western Flock News: >>
  • Lesson: The Natural (Western) Flock's Nesting Grounds in Canada >>
  • Eastern Flock News: >>
  • The Finish Line: Wisconsin Arrivals >>
  • Current Nesting Chart: Spring 2009, Eastern Flock >>
  • Nesting Research: Crane Cam! >>
  • Scientist's Comment: What's #819 Doing in North Dakota? >>
  • Audio Clip: Finding Home >>
  • Media: Alabama Public Television's Flying Over Alabama: The Whooping Crane Story and Links >>
  • Visit Mrs. Kelley's Class: Classrooms in Action >>

Next time: Will will we meet the first chick in the Class of 2009?
More Whooping Crane Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The FINAL Whooping Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on May 8, 2009.