Whooping Crane Migration Update: April 29, 2011

Excitement grows as the annual cycle continues. The first Western cranes have reached their Canadian nesting grounds and Eastern cranes have 16 nests. This photo makes us wonder: how many eggs does it take to make another Whooping crane egg? Next time: baby chicks!

Today's Report Includes:

Image of the Week

Image: Vickie Henderson
How many?

News: Migration Map and Field Reports

Data /Map/Finish Line

Thanks to reports from trackers and citizen scientists, our MapServer shows two distinct flyways as Whooping cranes complete migration to nesting grounds in Wisconsin and Canada.

Latest News: Western Flock
On April 25th, the first radioed crane had arrived on the nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park. Nest searches there will begin May 20. More

Latest News: Eastern flock
Just a few cranes, including 3 of the Class of 2010, are still on migration. (We'll have the tracking report in 2 days.) In Wisconsin, 16 nests now. More

Wisconsin Nests: Now 16

With nests, each season you win a few and lose a few. In past seasons, black flies have pestered the cranes so badly that they couldn't remain on their nests. This year, the cooler weather has prevented black flies hatching yet. Here's the latest:

(enlarge for details)

 Last Year's Young: Now on Their Own

The first birds to arrive are the experienced breeders from previous years, while the last birds to arrive are subadults. The subadults are those birds that are 1 or 2 years of age along with a few 3 year olds that have not begun to nest. The birds usually begin nesting around 5 years of age, but can nest as early as age 3.

Successful breeders from last year will have last year's "crane kid" with them on migration. The young birds will stay with their parents for most (or all) of the spring migration. But then they will separate. Here's how the separation may happen:

In Saskatchewan, or sometimes further south, the adults will begin the process of separation. This begins with the adults, usually the male, going through bouts of chasing the young from the group and then tolerating the youngster for a while before chasing it away again. After several days, the young crane will get used to being on its own and will eventually separate permanently from its parents.

If the youngster happens to stay with the parents until they arrive on the breeding grounds it will be chased away at that point, just as if it were some other intruding bird in the territory. The adults will soon raise the next generation.



Chicks: Coming Soon!
The first chick for the new class of 2011 ultralight-led migration will hatch any day. The chicks will come from captive cranes living at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Other places with captive Whooping cranes will also send eggs there to hatch. Every egg from the world's Whooping cranes is precious. The next generation is coming as the species continues a slow comeback from the brink of extinction. We'll share photos in our next report, the final report for spring.
Annual Evaluation: Please Share Your Thoughts

Will you take a few minutes to complete our Year-end Evaluation? With your help, we can document Journey North's reach, impact and value. We need comments like yours to keep the program going and growing.

Research Question and Quick Links: Helpful Resources to Explore

Research Question: How many Whooping crane eggs does it take to make another Whooping crane egg? (The answer is not as simple as it seems.) What factors might affect breeding success?


More Whooping Crane Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The next Whooping Crane Migration Update Will Be Posted on May 13, 2011.