The following report is forwarded with permission from Tom Stehn, USFWS biologist and National Whooping Crane Coordinator.
Where applicable, 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: email@example.com. 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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An aerial census of the Aransas NWR and surrounding areas made
February 11, 2000 revealed the presence of a record 185 whooping
Recap of cranes observed: (174)
Refuge Lamar San Jose Matagorda Welder Other Total
94+11 4 +1 20+1 21+1 20+1a 159+15=174
a The East Welder family may have been overlooked at Welder Flats.
Remarks: Sunshine was present throughout the day. A total of 174
whooping cranes were located, including 15 chicks.
Whooping cranes are continuing to leave their Matagorda and San
Jose territories to utilize refuge prescribed burns. A total of 51
whoopers were seen on burns, including 33 cranes on Unit 41E and 15
on Unit 37. Two were on a recent burn by Matagorda's Panther
Point. Forty cranes were found in open water (bays or lakes).
Four cranes were at freshwater. One crane was observed apparently
holding an eel.
No mortality has been known to occur this winter. However, banded
birds GwG-YbY, YbY-GwG, and R-YbY have left their territories and
have not been seen since December 14. Efforts have been
unsuccessful finding these banded birds in the large groups on the
refuge. Perhaps they have left the census area and are wintering
elsewhere. It is also possible that these banded birds have died
and the remaining mates and chicks moved over to the refuge.
Pairs that had left their territories and moved to the refuge
continued to be the South Matagorda and N. Cottonwood families.
Pairs identified on today's flight that had returned to their
territory for the second consecutive week were G-GwG (Long Reef)
and the unbanded Barge Canal pair at Welder Flats. For the second
time this winter, two cranes were seen on Dewberry Island close to
Port O'Connor. A grouping of 1+1 had moved from the refuge over to
San Jose, but their territorial identity is unknown.
- Tom Stehn
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Corpus Christi, Texas