The following report is forwarded with permission from Tom Stehn, USFWS biologist and National Whooping Crane Coordinator.
CWS stands for Canadian Wildlife Service; USFWS is US Fish and Wildlife Service. Crane monitoring involves cooperative efforts and support by both countries.
Anyone wanting to contact Tom about the report or the whooping crane projects can reach him via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Other information, including archived copies of these reports, can be found at the Texas Whooping Crane home pages at http://www.electrotex.com/aoc/. (Please link to the Texas Whooping Crane pages through the AOC main home page, as the URLs for the special site pages may change over time as updates and reviews occur.)
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December 4, 1999
SUBJECT: Whooping Crane Census at Aransas
An aerial census of the Aransas NWR and surrounding areas made
12/04/99 revealed the presence of 167 adults and 15 young = 182
whooping cranes. The flight was made in USFWS aircraft with Jim
Bredy, pilot/biologist and Tom Stehn as observer. Peak population
this winter equals 167 + 15 = 182. This figure is one bird less
than the record peak of 183 last winter.
Recap of cranes observed: (182)
Refuge Lamar San Jose Matagorda Welder Other Total
74+6 2+1 28+1 42+5 21+2 167+15=182
Remarks: Scattered showers and wind in the morning made for
difficult census conditions.
An estimated 59 + 4 = 63 whooping cranes have arrived since the
last flight on November 17. Newly arrived family groups are from
nests 8, 29, 37, and an unknown. I will need to confirm the
presence of the 15th family group because of possible duplication
on the flight. Pair 13/99 has arrived without their chick that was
alive in Wood Buffalo in August.
Color bands were identified on 4 pairs that were new arrivals.
Based on unoccupied territories at Aransas, a few whooping cranes
are still believed to be in migration because of the mild fall
experienced in the central US.
On today's flight, eight cranes were observed on prescribed burns.
Blue crab numbers have declined greatly in November and are
currently at low levels. Wolfberries are abundant and are being
eaten by both sandhill and whooping cranes. Flights by the cranes
to freshwater to drink and to prescribed burns to feed are making
the census more difficult because of the increased crane movement.
My appreciative thanks go to USFWS pilot/biologist Jim Bredy who
willingly conducted this survey flight despite an extremely busy
- Tom Stehn
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Corpus Christi, Texas