November 9, 2012

Whooping Crane Update

Whooping Cranes: It is estimated that approximately 35% of the radio-marked whooping cranes have made it to their wintering grounds on the Texas coast. There have also been sightings of the cranes in Oklahoma.

Salinity Levels: The salinity levels in San Antonio Bay were recorded at 26.6 parts per thousand today.

Drought Conditions: The area is still unusually dry but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts south Texas will see a wetter than average winter and spring in 2013.

Food Abundance: While conducting field work during the last few weeks, refuge biologists have come across a lot of whooping crane scat filled with wolfberry seeds. It appears this year’s wolfberry crop is still on schedule and seems to be strong.

Inventory & Monitoring: Refuge staff began using traps to survey blue crabs in the marshes on the Blackjack peninsula this September. Blue crabs appear to be abundant in the marsh with many traps capturing more than 10 crabs per night.

Freshwater Availability: To make certain freshwater is available to the whooping cranes when they arrive, refuge staff continue to work water well sites previously used by cranes on the Blackjack peninsula.

Citizen Science: Texas Parks and Wildlife launched its Texas Whooper Watch Program. This is an opportunity for the public to report sightings of whooping cranes in Texas. This is very helpful in the collection of information regarding the birds’ migration and distribution. Please see the link below to learn more.

Helpful Links:
Texas Whooper Watch Program
Whooping Crane Draft Revised International Recovery Plan (2006)