An aerial whooping crane census was conducted May 15, 2008 at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas. Only a single whooping crane was located. The rest of the flock has migrated north, with most of the birds presumably on the nesting grounds in Canada.
The single crane at Aransas was located on a crane territory I call "North Lamar". It is located on the west side of St. Charles Bay just northeast of the Lamar Unit of the Aransas NWR. This is presumably the same crane sighted April 30th at the Johnson Ranch adjacent to the Lamar Unit.
The estimated size of the flock remains a record 266. The flock consists of an estimated 144 adults, 83 subadults, and 39 juveniles. There is no evidence of any whooping crane mortality having occurred this past winter or in the spring migration.
The whooping crane survey was conducted in a Cessna 210 piloted by Gary Ritchey of Air Transit Solutions of San Antonio, Texas with USFWS observers Darrin Welchert and Tom Stehn. Visibility during the census was very good. The next census flight is scheduled for late October. We will try to monitor the one remaining crane from the ground.
Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 100
Austwell, TX 77950
(361) 286-3559 Ext. 221
fax (361) 286-3722
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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, plus many volunteers and non-profit organizations along the way.