Whooping Cranes on the Move!

The following is the latest information on the 2008 Whooping Crane migration from Charlie Luthin, Natural Resources Foundation

March 26

Eleven of the 17 ultra-light led juveniles from 2007 have begun their northern migration! Yesterday afternoon, 6 of the cranes left the pen site area at the Chassahowitzka NWR and flew to southwest GA. This morning, biologist Richard Urbanek saw the birds and noted that they had split into groups of 4 and 2. The group of 4 resumed migration today, but the other 2 have not. Today, another group of 5birds left the pensite and are currently flying north. Only 6 birds now remain at "Chass".

March 25

We received the sad news that DAR 43-07 collided with a power distribution line in a corn field in Fayette Co., IN and died. The photo we received showed a large cut above her bill. 43-07 and 5 other 2007 DAR subadults began migration from the Hiwassee NWR in TN on March 16. They stopped in Adair Co., KY their first night, then moved to Clark Co., IN on the 17th. On March 21, they resumed migration and stopped in Fayette Co., IN, where 43-07 died the next morning. As is the case with all eastern flock Whooping Cranes that are found dead, the carcass is being transported to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison for necropsy.

Whooping crane 1-01 was the first to return to the Necedah NWR, completing migration by March 14. Female 2-01 was the next to arrive, on March 23. Only 3 birds now remain on FL winter territories -- male 16-05 in Marion Co. and DAR 27-06 and DAR 28-06 (both males) in Pasco Co.

Two cranes who had been missing for quite awhile, males 7-03 and 12-05, were reported together in Houston Co., MN, on March 14 & 15. 7-03 had last been reported with 5 other whoopers at a migration stop in northeastern GA on November 30. The signal of 12-05 had last been detected in the Paynes Prairie area in FL on December 29. These birds may have wintered together at an undetermined location in FL. On March 23, 7-03 was back at Necedah.

Another group of 3 Whooping Cranes was sighted in MN (Morrison Co.) on March 18. Biologists speculate that these are males 8-04 and 14-05, and female 19-05, who left FL together on February 26. W1-06, the wild-produced female, left FL by herself on March 9. She spent her first night in Thomas Co., GA, and has not been observed since then.

DAR 40-07 (the female that has associated with Sandhill Cranes all winter) remained with large numbers of migrating sandhills near the Jasper Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area in northwestern IN through at least March 22.

Reports of sightings of migrating Whooping Cranes are coming in frequently now, including sightings in La Crosse Co. (March 13) and Green/Lafayette Co. (March 23).

Keep your eyes to the skies and report your whooping crane sightings to the International Crane Foundation at 608-356-9462. Pay close attention to color bands on their legs and note the sequence these bands are in, as that is how individuals are identified.


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