Nebraska Ornithologists' Union



Date of this Version


Document Type



"Cooperative Whooping Crane Tracking Project (August 1998-January 1999)" in Nebraska Bird Review (March 1999) 67(1).


Copyright 1999, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


Between 1977 and 1988, 132 juvenile whooping cranes were color-marked on the breeding grounds; of these 37 were accounted for during the winter of 1998-99. Five color-marked cranes were observed during the fall migration. All sightings of color-marked cranes during migration are maintained at the Grand Island office.

One hundred eighty-one cranes began the 1998 spring migration. Forty-nine nests were confirmed on the breeding grounds. Forty-seven chicks were located during June surveys, and the surveys during August determined that at least 24 chicks were surviving. Under optimum conditions about 2,054 birds were expected to arrive at Aransas last fall. The first arrival at Aransas was confirmed on October 28. About 77% (140 birds) of the arrivals at Aransas occurred between November 13 and December 3. A record 182 cranes are believed to have arrived at Aransas, including 18 young birds. On January 4, 1999, an adult plumaged whooping crane was confirmed wintering with sandhill cranes near Sabinal, Uvlade County, Texas. Another crane, observed with sandhill cranes on January 24 near Brazos Bend State Park in Fort Bend County, Texas, could be the crane observed near Sabinal, an Aransas bird that moved north, or a new bird. A total of 182 (164 adult/subadult and 18 young) whooping cranes are wintering at Aransas, and at least one additional is wintering in south Texas. A 1986 color-marked female with a broken leg, first observed at Quivira NWR on November 12, apparently left Quivira NWR on December 29, and has not been reported since. As of February 4, sixteen adult/subadult cranes, of the number anticipated, had not arrived at Aransas.