Whooping Crane Migration Update: February 12, 2010

Get ready! Newly banded and set free, the Class of 2009 crane-kids have begun their final reintroduction steps into the wild at two Florida wildlife refuges. Learn to identify them by deciphering their banding codes. Investigate the outlook for the flock in Texas with the photo story of wild crane Scarbaby. Tour the wintering grounds of both flocks through slideshows. Answer: What will the two cranes pictured here do next in their standoff?

Today's Report Includes:

Image of the Week

Standoff! What will these cranes do next?
Photo: Eva Scyzskoski, ICF

Welcome! Big Adventure Ahead

We're glad you're here for spring's journey north! It will be an adventure, as the tallest bird in North America faces hurdles ahead. What's on the minds of the people who work so hard to save this endangered species?

  • The number of whoopers in the Western (main) flock is likely to go down instead of up. We'll learn more about some of the many threats this natural flock faces.
  • The new Eastern flock has 29 juveniles safely on their wintering grounds. They include 20 ultralight-led birds and 9 Direct Autumn Release (DAR) birds. Unaided, will the youngsters all find their way back north? But a successful nesting season is the biggest worry for this new flock in the season ahead. We'll explore and think with the scientists who are searching for answers.

Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

Fresh drinking water is important to cranes. What is this crane doing? (Enlarge)

Read on to learn how to identify this crane!

Where Are They Now? Visit the Wintering Grounds

An estimated 263 are in Texas. Visit! 

Hunkered down today on their wintering grounds are the world's wild migratory Whooping cranes. The 105 birds of the Eastern flock are wintering in Florida (and 7 other states). Take a visit with our slide shows!

The Class of 2009 is in Florida. Visit!

News: Field Reports from Texas and Florida

Latest News!
The Western Flock in Texas

Ready for Migration?

Latest News!
The Class of 2009 in Florida

Welcome back to the crane experts who bring us the news! In Texas with the original natural flock, Tom Stehn tells status and stories of the whoopers he has observed for over 30 years. In Florida watching over the Class of 2009 are Sara, Eva, Matt, and Richard Urbanek at "Chass," and pilot Brooke with refuge staff at St. Marks NWR. They will share photos, crane mischief, and news all spring. What's the latest word at each wintering grounds? Click on Latest News to see.

Journal/Activity: Those Leg Bands About Leg Bands:Codes and Colors

Attaching colored bands with radio transmitters to the legs of the Eastern flock's chicks is a big event every year. Banding is done by experts during a health check. (The wild-born chicks in the Western flock are not banded.)

  • For what reasons might scientists put leg bands on the chicks of the new Eastern flock? What could they learn from banding these birds? Write your ideas in your Journey North Whooping Crane Journal.

Activity: Try This! Practice identifying birds by reading their bands!

Who Are These Cranes?
•Banding Code Chart for Class of 2009

Coming Soon: Track the Migration
Starting in March, you'll see the migration progress of both flocks — ALL the world's migratory Whooping cranes — live on our MapServer!
migration animation
Links: Helpful Resources to Explore
More Whooping Crane Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Whooping Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on February 26, 2010.