Whooping Crane Migration Update: February 26, 2010

“Things are looking up for this very endangered species,” reports Tom Stehn from the main flock’s Texas wintering grounds where the count is 263 Whooping cranes and plenty of rain. Three Eastern cranes may have begun migration with sandhill cranes. The crane-kids, content in Florida, learned to eat blue crabs. Meet the flock’s most productive pair in our slideshow and compare the two flocks we're tracking. Discover why 929 has a different VHF transmitter (see photo) from all the others.

Today's Report Includes:

Image of the Week

Crane 929 is the only one with a wide, white VHF transmitter. Why?
Photo: Sara Zimorski, ICF

News: Field Reports from Texas and Florida
Migration is Coming!
In Tennessee a few Whooping cranes who were with sandhill cranes began their northward migration with the sandhills.
(See DAR: 27-05, 28-05,
and 33-05.

Latest News!
Western Flock:Texas

Tom Stehn has good news after last year's tough winter for the cranes.
Latest News!
Class of 2009: Florida
Sara has tips for reading leg bands and Brooke tells how the crane-kids first faced blue crabs.
Weather: How Do Cranes Cope With Cold?

Are these one-legged cranes? No. Lawn ornaments? No. They are adult male #506 and seven 2009 Direct Autumn Release (DAR) juveniles trying to stay warm in Jefferson County, Kentucky! They've each tucked one foot into their feathers to keep warm. The group moved to Adair County, Kentucky, reports the tracking team. Is it warmer there?

Are you surprised that cranes can pull those long legs up into their feathers? They do it in flight when it's cold, too. Click to see what it looks like! Pilot Joe Duff shows us a close view. Photo: Eddie and Jennifer Huber

Slideshow: Cranes to Know Slideshow

We don't know as many details about the lives of the wild natural flock as we do about the captive-born ultralight-led flock. But Tom Stehn's memory is full of wonderful stories about the cranes he's come to know over the past 30 years, like the pair he calls Al and Diane. Meet them in the slide show and see why they're so great. Then answer:

  • In 17 nesting attempts between 1993 and 2009, this pair has brought young to Aransas __ times. They have brought __ single chicks and __ sets of twins, for a total of __ chicks.
  • What did you discover to help explain why the crane population grows so slowly?

How many chicks has this Whooping crane pair brought to Aransas NWR?
Journal: Take Stock of the Flocks Survival Research
You learned something about how the Western flock grows in Tom Stehn's report and saw the population graph. How does the number of birds in the Western flock compare to the Eastern flock? What other differences between these two flocks can you list? To help you answer that, first investigate three questions about the new Eastern flock with these pages. How do you think each flock will change during your lifetime? Write in your journal.

How old are the cranes in the flock now? How many males and females are there?
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

Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF
What are these juveniles at the Chass pen doing?

Can you identify the cranes?

More Whooping Crane Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Whooping Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 12, 2010.