Whooping Crane Migration Update: February 25, 2011

Happy news comes from the wintering grounds of both migratory flocks: A record high number of cranes at Aransas NWR, and chicks maturing at the two Florida release pens. Why are blue crabs so important to cranes, and how do they eat those clawed crustaceans? Video clip, too!

Today's Report Includes:

Image of the Week

Learning how to eat blue crabs is important for juvenile cranes during their first winter in Texas or Florida. Click on the photo and wonder: What will happen next?
Photo: Laura Erickson

News: Field Reports from Texas and Florida

Latest News!
The Western (natural) Flock in Texas

Ready for Migration?

Latest News!
The Eastern Flock's
Class of 2010 in Florida

We are jumping for joy with some fantastic news from biologist Tom Stehn on the Western Flock's Texas wintering grounds. What has Tom discovered since our last report? Who is the oldest wild Whooping crane of known age? At both Florida release sites, more than their voices are changing for the 10 ultralight-led chicks. What new behaviors are the crane-kids showing? Who's the troublemaker? Click on both Latest News links above to find out. There's plenty of adventure before migration too!

Winter Diet: Blue and Crabby! Lesson

How would you like to eat the same thing every day for 5 or 6 months every year of your life? That's what Whooping cranes do on their wintering grounds.

Cranes can eat crabs, clams, eels, shrimp, crayfish, acorns, snails, mice, voles, grasshoppers, minnows, dead fish, marsh onions, wolfberries and snakes. But their top favorite is blue crabs. An adult crane can eat up to 80 blue crabs in a day! How do they get to the meat? How do they teach their young to catch and eat these tasty, tricky morsels? What makes these clawed crustaceans so essential to Whooping cranes now—and forever? Find answers here:

Blue and Crabby: Whooping Crane Winter Diet.

(enlarge photos for more)

Images: Laura Erickson

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
Video Clip: Foraging After Sunset at Aransas NWR
Research Question and Links: Helpful Resources to Explore

Research question: What's a real problem for blue crabs—and also the number one threat to Whooping crane survival? Write your ideas in your Journey North Whooping Crane Journal.

More Whooping Crane Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Whooping Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 11, 2011.