Migration Update: April 9, 2010 Ask the Crane Expert!
Answers Coming April 17!

The "Chass 9" crane-kids began migration April 5, and some Texas whoopers have reached South Dakota! Eight nests with adult pairs incubating have already been found in Wisconsin; calculate a hatch date to circle on your calendar. Dig into our interview with the researcher who banded RAY and YAY and ponder this photo to discover what makes crane eyelids unlike yours.

Today's Report Includes:

Image of the Week

Photo: Eva Szyszkoski, ICF

What makes crane eyelids unlike yours?

Migration News: Map and Field Reports

Western Flock News

Data /Map

Eastern Flock News and Finish Line

The northernmost sighting is now in South Dakota! At Aransas NWR, the cranes are going, going...almost gone. What are the remaining cranes up to? When will Tom fly next to count them?

This Spring's Migration
There are about 366 migratory Whooping cranes: 262 in the western (natural) flock and 103 in the eastern (reintroduced) flock. Do you see two flyways for two migratory flocks?

All nine Chass chicks departed April 5! Only two juveniles (#906, #912 at St. Marks) are still in Florida. At least 68 birds have been confirmed back in Wisconsin, and 8 pairs are on nests! See News, finish Line.

Photo Gallery: Time to Dance
Last week Tom Stehn told us that the pair we know as "Al and Diane" began migration March 29 from their Texas winter territory on the grounds of a Bed and Breakfast called Crane House. They are the flock's most productive crane pair. Pair dancing increases as the breeding season gets closer and the dances of crane mates are spectacular to see. This series of photos shows dancing behavior between this pair just a few days before they began migration. Sue Kersey sent Tom the photos, saying, "We were staying at the Crane House Bed and Breakfast and the pair that come to the house really put on a show March 24-25. I saw that they were going over towards the lake and we able to hide in the brush and take these pictures. It was so exciting, and I was glad I was so hidden."


"It was a thrill of a lifetime to see them dancing. The same evening we had a good size bobcat at the Crane House too!"
Sue Kersey

Journal Topic: Nesting News! Nesting Summary

We've been hoping for this announcement, which came from Sara Zimorski, ICF Aviculturist/WCEP Tracking Team and Winter Management Co-chair, who flew an aerial survery on April 5: The exciting news is there are 8 nests already—seven on the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and one on private lands near the refuge. One of the pairs currently nesting is the wild-hatched chick, #W601 and her mate, #310. The other pairs on nests are: 505 & 415, 303 & 317, 313 & 318 (new nest as of April 5), 213 & 218, 309 & 403, 408 & 519 and 212 & 419 ." Here's this week's question for you:

  • If a crane pair started incubating on April 5, on what date will the first egg hatch? Circle the date on your calendar!
  • Which pairs have incubated before? Upon what could the outlook for their breeding success depend this year?
Research/Interview: Telemetry Project

In last week’s slideshow story you met RAY and YAY, two pioneer Whooping cranes who became the first cranes from the western (natural) flock to fly with GPS devices on their legs. This week we tell you more about this important research project in an interview with the project manager, Jessica Rempel. Why is this research happening? What are the goals? How many Whooping cranes will be banded? How do the GPS devices work? How long will they last? What will be done with the data? What hurdles had to be overcome before doing research with an endangered species? What could go wrong? It’s all here:
Whooping Crane Telemetry Project: Interview With a Researcher

Two cranes (YAY and RAY) from the western flock now wear solar-powered GPS devices attached to leg bands. Learn why these cranes are being tracked.

Lesson: Tracking the Cranes  

In both the central and eastern flyways, sighting reports by citizen scientists are helping to track migrating cranes as the number of Whooping cranes grows. But the tracking team assigned to the Eastern flock's Class of 2009 also gets help from technology. In Radio Telemetry: Tracking the Cranes ICF's Lara shows you how tracking works. In Signals From the Sky: About Those PTTs, you learn about another tracking method used. Would you like to be a tracker?

Photo: Wayne Kryduba
How does this radio receiver help crane trackers?
Links: Helpful Resources to Explore
More Whooping Crane Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Whooping Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 16, 2010.