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  • Evelyn Horn
    Jul 11, 2009
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      I just received my copy of Grus Americana (publication of Whooping Crane Conservation Association).
      Nothing but bad news.
      The Aransas flock had a terrible winter. Feeding stations with corn were even used (along trails where the birds had gone for grit). Mortality: 7 adults and 16 chicks were lost. In addition, 34 Whoopers left Aransas in the spring of 2008 but they failed to return in the fall. A total of 57 Whooping Cranes have been lost in the last twelve months.
         So from the peak of 270 birds, there are now only 247 (225 adults and 22 juveniles).
      Major problem seems to be drought with no indications of that improving. Also human uses of fresh water (from Guadalupe and San Antonio Rivers that feed San Antonio Bay and adjacent bays) has become a major problem with increasing population.
          A main food for the Whoopers it the blue crab. It moves about, seeking its preferred level of salinity (less than 15 parts per thousand). Less fresh water from the rivers means higher salinity (measured at 29 parts per thousand at Aransas).
          It's pointed out that this loss of an endangered species could be considered a "take." A "take" is prohibited by the terms of the Endangered Species Act. So human usage of the rivers' waters is in violation of the Act.
      The non-migratory flock managed (despite the drought) to produce one fledgling.
      The Eastern Partnership continues to lead Whoopers from Wisconsin to Florida, and the birds continue to return. But the nests are being abandoned and at last info there was only one fledgling for spring-09. One of the considerations is blood-feeding Black flies: driving the birds off the nest, or leading them off as prey.Much study is being done!!
      Evey Horn
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