Tom Stehn, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge reports, “The whooping crane migration is well underway. The first two whooping cranes were sighted at Aransas on October 21. Numerous other cranes arrived near the end of October and the first week in November. So far, ground reports from numerous parties have helped me record that 59 white-plumaged and 11 juveniles = 70 whooping cranes are at Aransas. No aerial surveys have been done to date to get a total count.”
Tom continued, “From the 10 radioed whooping cranes, 6 of those 10 have completed the migration to Aransas. Thus, one can estimated that 60% of the flock has reached Aransas. With 290 whooping cranes expected to reach Aransas, that means an estimated 174 could be here already (60% x 290). The 4 radioed cranes still in migration are located in Saskatchewan, North Dakota, and South Dakota.”
The most exciting news it that a pair that winters on Lamar has brought two chicks with them. A second family group with two chicks is currently in South Dakota. I’m hoping that this is a sign that the flock will meet my optimistic hope for a record size that should include 45+ juveniles. The habitat looks great for the returning cranes with blue crabs abundant, wolfberries available, and marsh salinities relatively low.
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