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Jan
22
Whooping Cranes Continue to Do Well

In 1941 only 21 Whooping Cranes existed in the world and many thought North America's tallest bird was doomed to extinction. Through decades of dedicated and painstaking efforts the endangered Whooping Cranes now numbers some 650 in the wild. At least 500 of those Whooping Cranes survive in the Wood Buffalo Aransas Texas flock that migrates through Saskatchewan, the exact number won’t be available until after counts are completed later this winter.

Each spring and fall Whooping Cranes migrate through Saskatchewan to and from their wintering grounds on the Texas Gulf Coast and Wood Buffalo National Park on the border between Alberta and the Northwest Territories. This past fall, 151 were observed near Marcelin, north of Saskatoon. This is the largest congregation of Whooping Cranes sighted in one bunch in over 100 years. Production of young was lower than average in 2018, with only 6 young being spotted in that large flock, a total of 24 young fledged in 2018.

Over the years captive breeding of Whooping Cranes has been successful, with eggs or offspring being introduced in 4 locations in the United States to create additional populations of whoopers. Two of these re-establishment programs have failed (Idaho and Florida) while two others have achieved limited success (Wisconsin and Louisiana).

Currently there are about 100 birds in the Eastern Migratory Flock summering in Wisconsin and another 50 birds in a nonmigrtory flock in Louisiana. Another 15 remain in Florida. There are about 165 birds in captivity, with just over 115 of those being breeding birds that are producing offspring for the reintroductions. Those birds are located in Wisconsin, Calgary, Louisiana and Washington, DC. About 50 nonbreeders are scattered in zoos and wildlife parks in the United States

  

For further information, contact:

Brian Johns
306-373-1228
Retired Wildlife Biologist  

or

Lorne Scott
306-695-2047
Conservation Director, Nature Saskatchewan

*Both Brian and Lorne are Directors of the International Whooping Crane Conservation Association*

Photo credit: Val Mann

 

 

 

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