Whooping Cranes Begin Migration to Canada

by:  Chester McConnell, Whooping Crane Conservation Association    

An estimated 115 whooping cranes remain on, or near the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas according the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Aransas Refuge officials report that, “Data from GPS-marked whooping cranes also indicates many of the birds have begun their migration. Approximately two thirds of the marked birds have left the Texas coast. Departure dates for those cranes in migration range between the 5th of March and 10th of April with an average departure date of 29 March. To date, none of the marked birds have arrived at Wood-Buffalo National Park. We continue to download data from the radio-marked birds, as well as receive information from actual sightings.”

Reports of whooping crane sightings made to the Whooping Crane Conservation Association indicate migrating birds are in every U.S. state and Canada along the migration route. The migration appears to be earlier this year and may be due to the warmer weather. Hopefully the nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada will be in suitable condition when the whoopers arrive there. here.

Photo by Daniel D’Auria

For those whoopers currently remaining on Aransas Refuge, habitat conditions appear to be improving. Aransas personnel report that, “As of April 11, the monthly precipitation totals for Aransas National Wildlife Refuge are 1.19 inches. Salinity levels in San Antonio Bay continue to remain under 20 parts per thousand (ppt) and are currently recorded at 16.5 ppt. Increased precipitation and fresh water inflows from Central Texas are helping to improve conditions in the marsh but the refuge is still not to pre-drought conditions.”