Whooping Crane Migration Update: March 2, 2012
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The journey north is underway for some Whooping cranes, while other cranes are in no hurry to go. Find out which crane in the eastern flock has made more migrations than any other. This week, think about how cranes prepare for migration. Photos and facts help YOU get ready too!

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Whooping crane with beak open and tongue visible
Photo: Laura Erickson
Chow Down, Fuel Up
News: Migration Begins!
Two Home Already
Eyes up! Two Eastern flock whoopers (unknown identification yet) were already back on the summering area February 28, reported tracker Eva with the International Crane Foundation (ICF). Several other Whooping cranes in the eastern flock are underway too!

Heading North
Alabama's Wheeler NWR had GREAT migration weather last Sunday, Feb. 26: Crane #919, with two young Direct Autumn Release (DAR) cranes #15-11 and #18-11 — and 60 Sandhill cranes — began their northward migration. At Wheeler to monitor the nine Class of 2011 ultralight-led colts, Brooke joked: "Our nine little characters looked up briefly in half interest, then went back to their foraging. Perhaps they were dining on 'It’s all about ME' grubs."

Ultralight-led Youngsters (Yawn...)
The nine young colts (crane-kids) that followed the ultralight planes to Alabama don't show any signs of leaving. The forecast for the next few days does not look like good migration weather. The young ones are content to stay. Click on the photos for more details.

A Head Start For Many

  • Almost half of the Eastern Migratory Population shortened their southward migration by hundreds of miles in this warmer-than-normal fall/winter. Nearly 40 percent of Eastern migratory whooping cranes never flew south of Indiana. Will they linger longer?
  • Many cranes from Canada that would normally  winter at Aransas NWR in Texas stopped short in Nebraska and Kansas. How long will they wait?

We know this for sure: Cranes that haven't left yet are getting ready to leave. Watch the map and stay tuned!

Three Class of 2011 Whooping cranes take fight amid Sandhill cranes on Alamaba wintering grounds.
Photo: Bev Paulan
Good Company
Crane #11-17 (Direct Autumn Release) with Sandhill cranes at Hiwassee State Wildlife Refuge
Photo: Bret Douglas
Colors Are Signals
Male #101 in his Florida neighborhood, not the best choice for habitat!
Photo: C. Reichenbach
Meet The Oldest
Explore: Preparing for Migration
Imagine your family is about to take a long trip. You pack clothes to last for the journey. You make sure the car is fueled. You get the maps or a GPS, and you know where you're going.

What about the world's estimated 400 migratory Whooping cranes returning to the summer nesting grounds? How do they get ready for that epic journey?

TWo cranes take offPhoto: Klaus Nigge

Time to Go!
The Migration: Underway!
Watch the migration progress of both flocks — ALL the world's migratory Whooping cranes — live on our MapServer as confirmed sightings are reported.
Migration Route of Western Migratory Population Migration route of Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) Whooping Crane Map
Western Flock
Migration animation
Eastern Flock
Migration animation
The next Whooping Crane Migration Update: Posting on March 23, 2012.