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Shorebird & Whooper Report Below

Canada Birders News

Subject: James Bay Shorebird Report #3
From: Jean Iron <jeaniron AT SYMPATICO.CA>
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2011 18:10:21 -0400
 
This is Jean Iron's third report via satellite phone for the period 26 July
to 2 August 2011 from North Point on the southwestern coast of James Bay in
Ontario. This report also incorporates sightings from Longridge Point and
Little Piskwamish Point. Mark Peck of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
oversees surveys of the endangered rufa subspecies of the Red Knot and
Yellow Rails. Surveys are a partnership of the ROM, Ontario Ministry of
Natural Resources (OMNR), Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and Moose Cree
First Nation. The North Point crew is Mike McMurtry (OMNR), Jean Iron and
Aus Taverner. The Longridge crew is Mark Peck, Roy John, Emily Rondel and
Antonio Coral. The Little Piskwamish crew is Don Sutherland (OMNR), Doug
McRae, Barb Charlton and Ron Ridout. Little Piskwamish is about halfway
between North Point and Longridge. Surveyors will be at all three sites
until 14 August.

SHOREBIRD OBSERVATIONS: 27 species to date. Juveniles of many species
increasing. The high count day is listed for each species. Sightings refer
to North Point unless stated otherwise.

Black-bellied Plover: 3 on 29 July.

Semipalmated Plover: 83 on 1 August included a banded individual with green
on lower right and metal on lower left.

Solitary Sandpiper: 4 on 26th at forest ponds at Longridge.

Greater Yellowlegs: 392 on 27th.

Lesser Yellowlegs: 867 on 27th, half juveniles on 2 August.

Whimbrel: 1.

Hudsonian Godwit: 327 molting and fattening adults on 27th.

Marbled Godwit: 1 juvenile on 29th.

Ruddy Turnstone: 52 adults on 29th. 250 adults at Longridge.

RED KNOT: Famous knot TY on orange flag was still at North Point on 29th but
moved about 35 km north to Longridge on 30th. Studies show that many
shorebirds return to preferred local areas from year to year. 4990 on 1 Aug
at Little Piskwamish, 3 with geolocators. 600 on 30th at Longridge with 190
sightings of individually marked birds. Smaller numbers at North Point with
high of 220 on 2 August. The survey period mid July to mid August is timed
to track the maximum number of marked adults. Data from flagged birds will
give approximate ages and ratios of males to females. Researchers and
birders will re-sight birds showing which populations use James Bay and
their migration routes.

Sanderling: 15 molting adults on 29th.

SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER: This is peak adult migration time with 23,000 adults
on 29 July at North Point exceeding the 14,147 on 21st. Southbound numbers
at North Point are probably the largest in North America away from the upper
Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. Both counts were with a combination of high
tides and strong northeast winds concentrating the birds. First 3 juveniles
on 29th. 4,500 on 31 July at Little Piskwamish.

Least Sandpiper: 47 on 29th. Mostly juveniles, but still some adults on 2
August.

White-rumped Sandpiper: Large numbers stage and fatten in southern James
Bay. 7,710 molting adults at North Point on 29th and 9,300 on 1 August at
Little Piskwamish. These large numbers are not seen south of James Bay
indicating that they fly either to eastern Canada where they are common or
more likely most of the James Bay population flies nonstop to South America.

Baird's Sandpiper: 1 on 27 July at Longridge.

Pectoral Sandpiper: 925 adults on 29th.

Dunlin: 265 adults on 29th.

Stilt Sandpiper: 1 adult on 26th at Longridge.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: 1 on 30 July at Longridge fide Mark Peck.

American Woodcock: 1 on 1 Aug at Little Piskwamish. There are nearby records
for Moosonee and Fort Albany.

Wilson's Phalarope: 1 adult on 26th and 30th at Longridge.

Red-necked Phalarope: 1 adult on 30th at Longridge.

HUDSON BAY SHOREBIRDS: Ken Abraham (OMNR) reports "We worked on the coast
from Shagamu River to the Pen Island area on 27-28 July and observed large
numbers of shorebirds. Of note were several hundred Hudsonian Godwits, and
lots of Pectoral, Semipalmated, White-rumped Sandpipers, Dunlins, both
Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs (seemed everywhere), Whimbrel and others. It
was particularly nice to see two small flocks of Buff-breasted Sandpipers
(14 in total) on 27 July foraging on berries and insects on a ridge along
the Hudson Bay coast. The location was halfway between the Niskibi River and
the Severn River at N56 16.646 W87 46.922.  Other species included Killdeer,
Semipalmated Plover, Short billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe and Red-necked
Phalarope. Absent from the list were Black-bellied Plover and American
Golden-Plover."

YELLOW RAIL: 1 ticking at Little Piskwamish on 30 July to 1 Aug, but none at
North Point and Longridge because of dry coastal marshes which normally have
a 10-20 cm depth of water. Ken Abraham heard a minimum of 2 Yellow Rails
ticking loudly on 27 July at a freshwater marsh about 10 km inland from the
outlet of the Niskibi River on Hudson Bay.

OTHER BIRDS: Ken Abraham reports for the Hudson Bay coast of Ontario and
Akimiski Island, Nunavut, in James Bay. "We banded over 3000 adult Canada
Geese and over 5000 goslings, plus 500 adult Lesser Snow Geese and 800
goslings. We continue to be impressed by the number of bald eagles on the
Hudson Bay coast with many (even most) being observed very near brood flocks
of geese. I suspect they have become an increasing factor in the mortality
of both goose species over the past decade. This year there were even
several observations on Akimiski Island during the two weeks of banding in
late July, which is unusual." Black Scoter, 400 molting males off Little
Piskwamish. Double-crested Cormorant, 2 on 2 Aug at Little Piskwamish. Great
Blue Heron on 2 Aug at Little Piskwamish. Ruffed Grouse drumming on 2 Aug.
American White Pelicans, 71 in supplemental plumage on 2 August. Northern
Harrier, adult female on 31st. Northern Goshawk, adult on 30th by Doug
McRae. Merlin on 30th. Sora on 1 August at Little Piskwamish. Bonaparte's
Gull, 350 on 31st at Longridge. Ring-billed Gull, 2 juveniles on 28th.
Caspian Tern, 3 on 1 Aug at Little Piskwamish. Common Tern, 2 on 2 Aug.
Arctic Tern, 2 on 2 August. Great Horned Owl hooting at Little Piskwamish.
Northern Shrike, adult with 2 brownish juveniles at Longridge. Gray Jays
regular around camp. Swallows migrating south. Tree Swallow, 28 on 28th.
Bank Swallow on 29th and 31st. Cliff Swallow on 29th. Swainson's Thrush with
young. American Robins eating Buffaloberries (Shepherdia canadensis).
European Starling, 65 at Little Piskwamish were unusual.  Cedar Waxwings
eating Buffaloberries. Canada Warbler singing on 1 & 3 Aug at Little
Piskwamish. Chipping Sparrow nest with young at Longridge. Clay-colored
Sparrow nest with young at Longridge. Savannah Sparrow nest with eggs at
Longridge. Savannah Sparrows abundant at North Point. Le Conte's Sparrows
and Nelson's Sparrows (subspecies alterus) still singing. White-throated
Sparrow on 31st eating Buffaloberries. Red-winged Blackbird, 31 on 2 Aug, 36
at Little Piskwamish. Common Grackle on 1 August. White-winged Crossbills,
33 on 29th. Excellent cone crop on White Spruce. Crossbills extracting seeds
from green cones. Some singing suggests they may nest soon as cone crop
ripens. Common Redpoll, 15 on 2 August at Little Piskwamish.

MAMMALS: American Marten on 2 Aug. Beluga (White Whale) 6 on 29 July at
North Point by Doug McRae and Barb Charlton. Two dead Belugas at Longridge.
Cause of death unknown, but possibly individuals trapped in ice late last
fall before they could migrate to leads and polynyas in Hudson Bay where
some Belugas spend the winter. A Black Bear chewed a bar of Sunlight soap at
Longridge; this fragrant yellow soap is an old camp favourite. On the Hudson
Bay coast, Ken Abraham (OMNR) reports "There are a lot of Polar Bears ashore
with several sighted 10-20 km inland in the fens."

HERPTILES: Eastern Gartersnake: 1 on 31 July at Longridge. There are
previous records for southern James Bay. American Toads of the colourful
reddish Hudson Bay population and Wood Frogs are scarce this summer probably
because of the very dry conditions.

BUTTERFLIES: Two additions since last report from Barb Charlton are Common
Branded Skipper and Silver-bordered Fritillary (photos).

ODONATES: No new species since last report. Fewer dragonflies with the dry
conditions. They are eating Bulldog Flies (Tabanidae) which pleases
surveyors because these flies are aggressive biters.
IMPORTANT NEW PUBLICATION: John Riley of the Nature Conservancy of Canada
(formerly OMNR) has just published "Wetlands of the Hudson Bay Lowland - An
Ontario Overview". A hard copy of this scholarly publication with excellent
habitat photos is available from the author.
John.Riley AT natureconservancy.ca

Next update in a week.

Ron Pittaway
Minden, Ontario
Canada
Subject: James Bay Shorebird Report #2
From: Jean Iron <jeaniron AT SYMPATICO.CA>
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2011 23:17:53 -0400
 
This is Jean Iron�s second report via satellite phone for the period 20 - 26
July from North Point on the southwest coast of James Bay, Ontario. North
Point is a vagrant trap - three examples are (1) the first Little Stint
(adult male) for Ontario was collected there on 10 July 1979, (2) the only
Ontario record of Common Poorwill was collected there on 4 June 1982 and (3)
the only Ontario specimen of Western Wood-Pewee on 20 June 1984. This report
includes limited information from Longridge Point. Surveys are a cooperative
effort of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS),
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) and Moose Cree First Nation.
The crew at North Point comprises Jean Iron, Doug McRae, Barbara Charlton
and Kevin Hannah. The Longridge Point crew comprises Mark Peck, Roy John,
Emily Rondel and Antonio Coral.

SHOREBIRDS OBSERVATIONS: 21 species to date. Birds are adults unless noted
otherwise. Counts done at high tide. Usually only the high count day for
each species is given. Reports below are from North Point unless noted
otherwise.

Black-bellied Plover: 1 adult on 21st.

American Golden-Plover: 1 adult on 22nd.

Semipalmated Plover: 31 on 22nd.

Killdeer: 1 on 21st.

Spotted Sandpiper: 1 juvenile on 22nd.

Greater Yellowlegs: 315 on 21st. Some eating sticklebacks (tiny fish). 250
at Longridge.

Lesser Yellowlegs: 682 on 26th. First juvenile on 26th. 400 at Longridge.

Whimbrel: 61 on 24th. 47 at Longridge.

Hudsonian Godwit: 345 molting adults on 26th. 130 at Longridge.

Marbled Godwit:  4 on 21st. Territorial nesting bird chases Common Ravens.

Ruddy Turnstone: 16 adults on 21st. 11 at Longridge.

RED KNOT: Longridge - 1100 adults on 23rd fide Mark Peck. North Point - 160
on 22nd including 33 flagged birds from the United States, Chile and
Argentina.  An exciting find was seeing a Red Knot (TY on orange flag) on 26
July at North Point. TY spent 18 days at Longridge last summer 2010.  It was
first banded in March 2006 in Argentina and photographed in August 2008 in
Trinidad. An aerial survey by CWS in 2009 found large numbers of knots about
midway between North Point and Longridge. Beginning on 30 July a third field
crew will spend two weeks in this area known as Little Piskwamish Point.

Sanderling: 87 molting and fading adults on 21st. 2 flagged birds on 23rd
from Delaware Bay in the United States.

SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER: 14,147 adults on 21 July. This count was at high
tide combined with a strong northeast wind, which concentrated the birds.
Colour-marking in the 1970s by Guy Morrison (CWS) at North Point showed that
most Semipalmated Sandpipers using southern James Bay departed southeast to
the Atlantic Coast before heading over the ocean to South America.
Semipalmated Sandpipers passing through James Bay include many from the
central and western Arctic based on banding, colour-marking and
measurements.

Least Sandpiper: 37 on 21st.

White-rumped Sandpiper: 1117 molting adults on 26 July.

Pectoral Sandpiper: 102 adults on 26th. 500 at Longridge.

Dunlin: 127 on 26th.

Short-billed Dowitcher: 1 juvenile on 24th. 6 at Longridge fide Mark Peck.

Wilson's Snipe: 2 on 22nd still winnowing.

Red-necked Phalarope: 1 adult on 23rd.

SHOREBIRD FOODS: Shorebirds in Hudson and James Bays feed on the abundant
larvae of the bivalve Macoma balthica (clam), and in southern James Bay the
gastropod Hydrobia minuta (snail), as well as a variety of crustaceans
(shrimps/crabs and allies), worms and dipteran (fly) larvae (Ontario
Shorebird Conservation Plan 2003).

SHOREBIRD MIGRATION: Flocks of high flying migrating shorebirds, some in V
formations, were observed moving south in early evening presumably heading
for the Atlantic Coast.

YELLOW RAIL: Canada has about 90% of the Yellow Rail's breeding range. The
coastal brackish marshes of James Bay probably have the largest breeding
population of Yellow Rails in North America. They breed in marshes dominated
by Chaffy Sedge (Carex paleacea) fide Don Sutherland (OMNR). The big news
this summer is that crews have found no Yellows Rails at both North Point
and Longridge Point where they are usually common. In July Yellow Rails
"tick" incessantly and are easily detected. Marshes are very dry this summer
at both North Point and Longridge. Yellow Rails may have moved farther north
along James Bay and Hudson Bay where coastal conditions are more normal this
summer. Or possibly the rails shifted to large freshwater fens well inland
from the coast in the Hudson Bay Lowland fide Don Sutherland (OMNR). Also,
OMNR's Terrestrial Biodiversity crews found Yellow Rails this summer near
Big Trout Lake in northwestern Ontario fide Ken Abraham (OMNR) and Don
Sutherland.

OTHER BIRDS: In rough checklist order: Canada Goose - none at North Point,
however, Kevin Hannah on 26 July walked 7.5 km north along the coast and
found 2620 flightless Canadas including one with a white neck collar 3X57.
American White Pelican, 26 on 24th, it recently began breeding on islands in
James Bay. Sandhill Crane, 68 on 20th, the subspecies rowani breeds in the
boreal forest. Merlin, adult male on 21 July caught a Semipalmated
Sandpiper. Northern Harrier, adult male on 20th is the only report
reflecting very low vole abundance. Bonaparte's Gull, 62 on 22nd were mostly
year old nonbreeders plus some adults, 2 juveniles on 26th. Black Tern at
Longridge fide Mark Peck. Arctic Tern, 1 adult on 21st and 3 on 22nd.
Olive-sided Flycatcher, 1 on 19th was omitted from the previous report.
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, 1 on 23rd. Northern Shrike, a juvenile on 22 July
regurgitated a pellet composed mainly of beetle and insect exoskeletons.
Similarly, Loggerhead Shrikes on the Carden Alvar in southern Ontario eat
many beetles and other insects which form the bulk of their food during the
warmer months. Gray Jay, adult and juvenile around camp.  Boreal Chickadee
feeding young on 24 and 25th. Brown Thrasher still there on 22nd. Northern
Waterthrush, 2 on 24th. Clay-colored Sparrow, 1 on 22nd. 2  Le Conte�s
Sparrow, 12 on 25th including one observed by Doug McRae doing an aerial
display.  Nelson�s Sparrow, 16 on 26th. Le Conte's and Nelson's Sparrows are
singing and in the same general habitat. Both sparrows have moved more
inland to moist pockets because coastal sedge marshes are very dry this
summer. White-winged Crossbill: 20 on 24 July.

MAMMALS: Single Black Bears at both North Point and Longridge camps. Solar
powered electric fences surround food cabins at both sites. No Polar Bears -
they are very rare south of Akimiski Island. Two Belugas (White Whales) at
Longridge plus a dead one. An adult and 4 young Striped Skunks around North
Point camp.

BUTTERFLIES: Bronze Copper is new since last report. Correction to last
report - change Pink-sided Sulphur (typo) to Pink-edged Sulphur thanks to
Alan Wormington. He further said that "They might be Paleano Sulphurs, but
it's hard to tell unless you know them well. Pelidne Sulphur should be there
too, as well as Giant Sulphur - it's not large as the name implies."

ODONATES: List from Kevin Hannah (CWS). In no particular order: Kennedy�s
Emerald, Delicate Emerald, American Emerald , Four-spotted Skimmer, Emerald
Spreadwing, White-faced Meadowhawk, Cherry-faced Meadowhawk, Sedge Darner,
Subarctic Darner, Shadow Darner, Lake Darner, Canada Darner, Zigzag Darner,
Variable Darner (nominate subspecies interrupta), Variable Darner
(subspecies lineata). Kevin noted a large drop in numbers of odonates on
25-26 July which he attributed to the very dry conditions.

Aerial photo showing location of North Point in red on southern James Bay.
www.jeaniron.ca/2011/JamesBay2011/NorthPointmap.jpg

Acknowledgements: I thank Ken Abraham and Don Sutherland of the Ontario
Ministry of Natural Resources for information.

LITERATURE CITED: Ontario Shorebird Conservation Plan. 2003. Ross, K., and
K. Abraham, R. Clay, B. Collins, J. Iron, R. James, D. McLachlin, R. Weeber.
48 pages. Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada.
www.on.ec.gc.ca/wildlife/plans/pdf/plans-shorebird-e.pdf

I'll post next update in a week.

Ron Pittaway
Minden, Ontario
Canada
Subject: James Bay Shorebird Report #1
From: Jean Iron <jeaniron AT SYMPATICO.CA>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 17:04:15 -0400
 
This is Jean Iron's first report via satellite phone for the period 16 -19
July from North Point on the southwestern coast of James Bay, Ontario. North
Point is about 25 km (15 miles) north of Moosonee and about 825 km (512
miles) north of Toronto, Ontario. James Bay is the southeastern extension of
Hudson Bay reaching deep into eastern Canada between the provinces of
Ontario and Quebec south to about 51 degrees north latitude. Its broad tidal
flats, wide coastal marshes and islands are of hemispheric importance to
southbound shorebirds and waterfowl migrating from the Canadian Arctic. Mark
Peck of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto oversees the surveys of
the endangered rufa subspecies of the Red Knot and other shorebirds. Yellow
Rails are also being surveyed. Surveys are a cooperative venture of the
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), Canadian Wildlife Service
(CWS), Moose Cree First Nation and ROM. This summer there are two main
survey sites - Longridge and North Point. Longridge was also surveyed for
Red Knots in 2009 and 2010, but this is the first year for North Point. The
crew at North Point is Jean Iron, Doug McRae, Barbara Charlton and Kevin
Hannah. The Longridge crew comprises Mark Peck, Roy John, Emily Rondel and
Antonio Coral.

GOOSE and SHOREBIRD BREEDING SUCCESS: Early reports from the central and
eastern Arctic indicate that Lesser Snow Geese, Cackling Geese, Canada Geese
and shorebirds are having a good nesting season.

SHOREBIRDS: 16 species to date. Counts done at high tide. Usually only the
high count day for each species is given. Reports below are from North Point
unless otherwise noted.

Black-bellied Plover: 1 adult on 17 July.

Semipalmated Plover: 5 adults on 18th.

Greater Yellowlegs: 332 adults on 18th. Greaters nest nearby in the Hudson
Bay Lowland.

Lesser Yellowlegs: 451 adults on 18th, 3 juveniles on 17th. Lessers nest
nearby in the Hudson Bay Lowland.

Whimbrel: 11 adults on 17th.

Hudsonian Godwit: 176 adults on 17th.

Marbled Godwit: 2 adults (pair) seen daily on nesting territory. There is a
small isolated breeding population (about 1500 birds) on southern James Bay.

Ruddy Turnstone: 1 adult on 18th.

RED KNOT: 35 adults on 18 July. 1 flagged bird (lime green) on 18th probably
from Delaware Bay, United States. About 10% of the rufa subspecies is
marked. 300 adults at Longridge on 19th.

Sanderling: 200 adults on 17th.

Semipalmated Sandpiper: 6355 adults on 18th.

Least Sandpiper: 27 adults on 18th.

White-rumped Sandpiper: 3 adults on 17th. Numbers will increase soon.

Pectoral Sandpiper: 246 adults on 18th.

Dunlin: 86 adults on 18th. Thousands of Dunlins (subspecies hudsonia) stage
in James Bay and undergo prebasic and preformative molts before resuming
migration about mid September. This is why Dunlins are very rare south of
the subarctic until much later than most shorebirds.

Wilson's Snipe: 5.

YELLOW RAIL: Coastal marsh conditions are very dry at North Point and no
Yellow Rails heard to date. Conditions also dry at Longridge. However, Ken
Abraham who is at Peawanuck on the Hudson Bay Coast reports that �Conditions
are great here. The pond levels in the interior look good, while some nearer
the coast are perhaps drier than average, but not significantly.�

OTHER BIRDS: In rough checklist order: Canada Goose. 60 American Black
Ducks. 276 Mallards. 1 Northern Pintail. 1 Green-winged Teal. 7 Common
Goldeneyes. 5 Common Mergansers. 1 Black Scoter. 1 Common Loon. 1
Double-crested Cormorant. 1 Opsrey. 1 immature Bald Eagle. Northern Harrier
and Short-eared Owl � no sightings of these two raptors indicate very low
vole and mouse numbers. 76 Sandhill Cranes on 18th. 10 Bonaparte�s Gulls (7
adults, 3 second year birds � a few year old birds go to James Bay, but most
summer well south of the breeding grounds). 2 Caspian Terns on 18th. 6
Common Terns on 19th. Alder Flycatcher. 10 Least Flycatchers reflecting the
aspen forest around camp. Gray Jay. Boreal Chickadee. Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Swainson�s Thrush. Brown Thrasher on 18 and 19th; it is a regular vagrant
along the coasts of Hudson and James Bays. 8 Cedar Waxwings on 16th.
Tennessee Warbler carrying food. Black-and-white Warbler. American Redstart.
Ovenbird singing daily at camp. Clay-colored Sparrow, 2 singing near camp,
many birders are surprised that this scrubland sparrow breeds around James
Bay. Le Conte�s Sparrow nest with 4 eggs on 17th. Nelson�s Sparrow. Common
Grackle on 17th. A few Common Redpolls. 3 Pine Siskins on 18th.

MAMMALS: One Black Bear is near camp, but it is behaving itself. A solar
powered electric fence surrounds the food cabin. Around camp there is a
Striped Skunk family, a Red Fox family and a young Snowshoe Hare. Vole and
mouse numbers are very low. Similar low vole numbers on Akimiski Island,
Nunavut.

BUTTERFLIES: Old World Swallowtail, Orange Sulphur, Pink-sided Sulphur,
Northern Spring Azure, Atlantis Fritillary, Northern Crescent, White
Admiral, Viceroy and Common Ringlet.

ODONATES: Kennedy�s Emerald on 17 July.

Aerial photo showing location of North Point in red on southern James Bay.
www.jeaniron.ca/2011/JamesBay2011/NorthPointmap.jpg

Acknowledgements: The crews thank Ken Abraham, Rod Brook and Sarah Hagey of
the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for logistical support.

I'll post several updates from Jean over the next month.

Ron Pittaway
Minden, Ontario
Canada

 

CANADA
Subject: SW Saskatchewan
From: M A <dudra.m AT sasktel.net>
Date: Sat, 06 Aug 2011 14:02:26 -0600
 
The weeks of July 18 & 25, going to and from work, we were seeing a 
number of Hawks - perched on power poles, fence posts, and round bales.  
it is nice to see.  We also were seeing a number of shorebirds,  namely 
several Killdeer, a few American Avocets, a few Marbled Godwits, and 
Willets.  There have also been at least 6 or 7 Black Terns flying over 
the water area within a mile east of the Compressor Station.  I didn't 
work this past week.

The weekend of July 16-17, our 5 Barn Swallows at the Compressor Station 
fledged... and by July 19, the parents were building a new nest within a 
couple feet of the other.  Last year, they actually reused their same 
nest, with a couple minor renovations.  July 27, a young Western 
Kingbird fell out of the nest near our office building.  It was quite 
helpless but all-feathered... it could hop a bit, but not much.  The 
parents were feeding it (and swooping anyone who went near the 
youngster).  The next morning, we could not locate it, so hopefully it 
was able to hop to safety.  We have young Red Fox kits in the yard, so 
they may have found it, too.  Who knows.

The morning of July 30, we headed to Calgary - to see our little 
grandson (and his parents.  LOL!!)  We left home just before 8:00 AM.  
Lots of raptors between Swift Current and the SK/AB border, but the 
numbers diminished significantly as we continued west.

 From Swift Current to the SK/AB border, we saw:

Ducks
1 Double-crested Cormorant (a few minutes before the SK/AB border)
1 Northern Harrier (near Tompkins), 53 Swainson's Hawks, 15 Red-tailed 
Hawks, 4 Ferruginous Hawks (2 singles, 1 pair), 9 unidentified Hawks, 1 
Merlin (near Tompkins)
American Coots
2 American Avocets
Phalaropes
a few Gulls
Rock Pigeons, a few Mourning Doves
a few Western Kingbirds
3 Black-billed Magpies, 13 American Crows, 1 Common Raven (just west of 
Piapot)
2 Barn Swallows
a few Western Meadowlarks
Blackbirds (some starting to form flocks of 50-100)
a few LBJ's
1 White-tailed Deer with 2 young

Aug 1 returning home, we hit the SK/AB border just after noon, and saw:

Ducks
1 Northern Harrier (just west of Swift Current), 34 Swainson's Hawks, 1 
Red-tailed Hawk, 8 unidentified Hawks, 1 Merlin (near Tompkins)
American Coots
a few Gulls
Rock Pigeons, a couple Mourning Doves
2 Black-billed Magpies, 8 American Crows
a few Western Meadowlarks
Blackbirds

Happy birding....

- Mary Ann and Larry, Swift Current, SK
50� 17' 00" N - 107� 48' 00" W
http://dudrl.sasktelwebsite.net



[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



------------------------------------


Subject: Swift Current
From: M A <dudra.m AT sasktel.net>
Date: Sat, 06 Aug 2011 13:54:38 -0600
 
Life in our yard now consists of mostly young fledglings - in various 
stages of fledglingship, from recently fledged to bird teenagers.

The House Wrens fledged late last week (4 fledglings) - and we lost one 
to a window hit the beginning of this week (flew right into the window, 
while I was standing at the window looking out.)  The second Tree 
Swallow family fledged 10 or so days ago, and the Purple Martins started 
fledging a week ago - with the last gourdful finally fledgling a couple 
days ago.

We continue to see at least 1 or 2 young Red-breasted Nuthatch young are 
coming to the feeder..  We have at least 2 Gray Catbird fledglings 
hanging around, a couple young Yellow Warblers, as well as several 
American Robins (some still being fed by parents, but most are now 
foraging on their own), and Common Grackle youngsters, many young House 
Finches in various stages of youth (with at least 2 families of new 
fledglings this week again), at least one family of Pine Siskins, & 
several young House Sparrows.  We still have at least 1 young Northern 
Flicker coming to the yard - usually accompanied by the male parent.

Every so often, in the early mornings the past couple weeks, I see 1 - 3 
Common Nighthawks (usually around 4:30 - 5:00AM).  One morning (July 
17), around 7:00AM, one was flying low - over the trees in our 
backyard.  It made a few passes...  Must have been some good bugs 
hanging around just over the tree tops.)

Our daily yard visitors (on most days) include:

1 Swainson's Hawk (occasionally flies over the neighbourhood)
a few Gulls flying over (Ring-billed and the occasional Franklin's)
1 or 2 Black-billed Magpies (occasionally fly over, but not often right now)
5-10 American Crows flying over (some are young ones)
1 or 2 Mourning Doves
1-3 Common Nighthawks (occasionally flying over)
2 Downy Woodpeckers (not every day, but we do see both the male and 
female adults every few days)
1 or 2 Northern Flickers plus at least 1 fledgling (usually hear them 
more often than we see them)
2 Western Kingbirds (the young have fledged from the nearby nest, but I 
only hear them... haven't seen them yet)
1 Eastern Kingbird
at least 16-18 Purple Martins (plus all the fledglings now)
2-5 Red-breasted Nuthatches including the now teenage young
5 House Wrens (2 adults, 3 young)
American Robins (numbers are increasing with every new batch of young 
that discover our chokecherry trees)
2 adults Gray Catbirds plus at least 2 young
1 Brown Thrasher (seen daily August 4 & 5)
15+ Cedar Waxwings
at least 3 or 4 Yellow Warblers plus at least a couple young
at least 4-6 Chipping Sparrows
at least 2-4 Clay-colored Sparrows
a few Common Grackles plus young
3 or 4 Brown Cowbirds
Baltimore Oriole (heard only - almost every morning this past week)
lots of House Finches including many young
several Pine Siskins (including 2 families, each with at least 3 or 4 
fledglings)
a few American Goldfinches (the males have really been starting to sing 
the past couple weeks)
ever present House Sparrows

1 or 2 Nuttall's Cottontails
1 Black-phased Gray Squirrel (August 4)

July 23, we went for a short drive around the City... and noted that 
Mourning Doves were starting to flock.  Along the west end of South 
Railway Av NW (near Burnett's Pond), 25 Mourning Doves were lined up on 
the power line.  On the drive over to the Filtration Plant Reservoir, we 
saw a few Eurasian Collared-Doves in their usual location, and another 
flock of 20+ Mourning Doves sitting on a power line.  As we drove along 
the road to the Filtration Plant, we stopped just west of the SaskPower 
building to check out the Purple Martin condo at a residence along the 
Creek... we saw 3 Purple Martins flying into the condos, so I guess they 
didn't get pushed out by the European Starlings we had seen in the same 
area in late Spring.

July 22 & 23, Larry saw and heard a Merlin near the north end of 1st Ave 
NE.  The evening of July 23, we were coming out of the restaurant across 
from that area, and heard then saw it again.  We then watched it land in 
a tree, joining another one that had been sitting there undetected by us 
until the noisy one joined it.

I was talking to a lady on August 4 - they has a cottage at Beaver Flat 
(north of Stewart Valley, along Lake Diefenbaker).  They have at least 3 
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that just arrived this week, so we mixed up 
the nectar, and put a couple feeders out in anticipation of their 
arrival here.

- Mary Ann and Larry, Swift Current, SK
50� 17' 00" N - 107� 48' 00" W
http://dudrl.sasktelwebsite.net

 

KANSAS BIRDERS NOTE
Subject: mature Bald Eagle
From: Gerald Reeck <reeck AT K-STATE.EDU>
Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2011 19:50:31 -0400
 
Dear All:

Call me naive, but I was shocked this morning to see a mature Bald Eagle below 
the tubes at Tuttle Reservoir. 


At first I could not believe my eyes, but a second look, with binocs, confirmed 
this sighting. 


The bird was flying low, from west to east, about 100 yards below the dam, 
from, say, the outlet river in the direction of the "duck pond." By the way I 
was pleased to see that the blind has been relocated (not sure when) to a much 
more usable location. 


Jerry Reeck

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Subject: Re: Cheney today
From: Jeff Calhoun <jeffcalhoun11 AT GMAIL.COM>
Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2011 15:48:58 -0500
 
There were ultimately two Pileated Woodpeckers along the river channel at
DeWeese, probably representing newly invaded habitat and what is likely to
become regular for visiting birders in that part of Reno Co. Also noted a
"Traill''s" Flycatcher. Kevin and Cheryl did better than I it appears but it
was a nice day anyways!

Jeff Calhoun
Derby, KS

On Saturday, August 6, 2011, Kevin Groeneweg 
wrote:
> Cheryl Miller and I birded Cheney Lake this morning.  More shorebirds are
> showing up on the exposed flats at the upper end of the lake, accessed
from
> DeWeese Park, as well as Yoder Point and the various access points off
Mayfield
> Road (all Reno Co.).  Most sandpipers were Baird's, but also good numbers
of
> Least, Semipalmated and Western.  There were 5 Stilt Sandpipers, a couple
of LB
> Dowitchers, 3 Am. Avocets, 6 Semipalmated Plovers and 3 Sanderlings.  Also
of
> note at DeWeese Park was a Red-Shouldered Hawk (new Reno record) that was
> soaring overhead and calling.  Jeff Calhoun also reported a Pileated
Woodpecker
> there before we arrived, but we didn't see it.  On the road to Yoder Cove
we had
> a young Painted Bunting.  On the west side of the point were two
Franklin's
> Gulls.
>
> On the way home we took a swing by the sod farms north of Colwich for
> Buff-breasted Sandpipers.  We didn't see any on the sod, but had 13 with a
bunch
> of Killdeer in a bare, wet field just west of the Cranmer HQ (along 61st
1/2
> mile west of 119th St. W. in Sedgwick Co.).
>
> Kevin Groeneweg
> Wichita
>
> For KSBIRD-L archives or to change your subscription options, go to
> http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/ksbird-l.html
> For KSBIRD-L guidelines go to
> http://www.ksbirds.org/KSBIRD-LGuidelines.htm
> To contact a listowner, send a message to
> mailto:ksbird-l-request AT listserv.ksu.edu
>

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Subject: Cheney today
From: Kevin Groeneweg <kgroeneweg AT SBCGLOBAL.NET>
Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2011 13:32:03 -0700
 
Cheryl Miller and I birded Cheney Lake this morning.  More shorebirds are 
showing up on the exposed flats at the upper end of the lake, accessed from 
DeWeese Park, as well as Yoder Point and the various access points off Mayfield 

Road (all Reno Co.).  Most sandpipers were Baird's, but also good numbers of 
Least, Semipalmated and Western. There were 5 Stilt Sandpipers, a couple of LB 

Dowitchers, 3 Am. Avocets, 6 Semipalmated Plovers and 3 Sanderlings.  Also of 
note at DeWeese Park was a Red-Shouldered Hawk (new Reno record) that was 
soaring overhead and calling. Jeff Calhoun also reported a Pileated Woodpecker 

there before we arrived, but we didn't see it. On the road to Yoder Cove we had 

a young Painted Bunting.  On the west side of the point were two Franklin's 
Gulls.

On the way home we took a swing by the sod farms north of Colwich for 
Buff-breasted Sandpipers. We didn't see any on the sod, but had 13 with a bunch 

of Killdeer in a bare, wet field just west of the Cranmer HQ (along 61st 1/2 
mile west of 119th St. W. in Sedgwick Co.).

Kevin Groeneweg
Wichita

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Subject: Morton County bird report
From: Ted Cable <tcable AT K-STATE.EDU>
Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2011 14:29:18 -0400
 
I birded Morton County from Wednesday afternoon through Friday morning. Maybe 
the most startling news is what I did NOT see. In three days of birding I did 
not see a single oriole of any species! I know they leave early, but normally 
not this early. Nor did I see a single meadowlark on the grasslands. I did see 
some on private irrigated land in the county but not a single meadowlark on the 
Grasslands proper. One stop at Point of Rocks resulted in zero birds of any 
species – nothing calling from the riparian area below the Point of Rocks 
either. Even kingbirds and Horned Larks were uncommon. 

  
I did see some birds however. I saw a Peregrine on two occasions as well as a 
Prairie Falcon. The sewer ponds held Black Terns and a good assortment of 
shorebirds, including a Sanderling and 100 Wilson’s Phalaropes. Two Solitary 
Sandpipers were at the wooded pond. In the shelterbelt, I had what appeared to 
be a pair of Black-chinned Hummingbirds (well a male and female in the same 
general area). I wonder if they could have nested there. The Cooper’s Hawk 
family is still present too. 


The most interesting bird was a stunning Rocky Mountain race of Hairy 
Woodpecker. It was in the burn area working the dead trees. At first I thought 
Black-backed, as from the side I could see no white on the wings at all and in 
flight I couldn’t see the white on the mantle. Finally I got a good look at 
the back and could see a little white. This was an interesting black and white 
woodpecker that had me excited or a moment! According to Birds of Kansas, two 
of this subspecies were collected from Morton County way back in April 1967. 


If anybody is looking for Scaled Quail, they should drive up to the Finn’s 
ranch house. I have seldom missed them there in my last 6-7 trips there. I had 
them again there on this trip. Often they are in the front yard or driveway and 
seen from the road. This location has been more productive than the old “goat 
pens” in recent years. 


Finally, I had a Willow Flycatcher at Middle Spring on August 2. I have had two 
calling birds there in late June and I believe I have a sighting or two in 
July. I wonder if they could nest there, and if so, which subspecies it would 
be. Could it be the endangered Southwestern one which nests in saltcedar? Maybe 
just very late spring migrants and very early fall migrants, but the habitat 
looks like it could support nesting. - Ted 


-- 
Ted T. Cable, Ph.D.
Professor and Assistant Department Head
Department of Horticulture, Forestry, and Recreation Resources
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506
ph. 785-532-1408
fax 785-532-5894

 

Kansas Notes



Chuck Otte           cotte AT oznet.ksu.edu
Past President, National Association of
County Agricultural Agents
Geary County Extension Office, PO BOX 28          785-238-4161
Junction City, Kansas 66441-0028
FAX 785-238-7166
http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/geary

ksmap.gif (9868 bytes)

   

Oklahoma Notes  Bird Census 2009 

Subject: LakeOverholserShorebirds8-6-11
From: Jim Bates <jim-bates AT OUHSC.EDU>
Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2011 17:39:06 -0500
 
At 3PM , I scanned the edge of the lake from my car starting from the SW corner 
(near the fishing pier) to the north side at the first pullout west of 
cofferdam road for shorebirds. I saw Least Tern, Black Tern and Forster's tern 
just north of the fishing pier at the edge of the water. North of the Rte 66 
park where the road turns west I saw Marbled Godwits (3), Wilson's Phalarope 
(many), Spotted Sandpiper (1), Dowitcher Sp. (1), Stilt Sandpiper (many), 
Avocet (many), and lots of peeps and Killdeer. 

 On the north end of the lake just east of the bridge over the inlet into 
StoneBridge, an island is appearing as the water level continues to decrease. 
On the island, I saw a few Buff-Breasted Sandpipers. I also saw a single 
partial breeding plumage Black-bellied Plover on the eastern most end of the 
newly formed island. 


Good Birding and stay cool,

Jim Bates

 

Bird Census 2009   Salt Plains CBC  
Texas Birders
Subject: Bee County afternoon on the 6th
From: Jim Sinclair <jim.sinclair AT GMAIL.COM>
Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2011 16:01:23 -0500
 
As Brush Freeman would say, I found myself piddlin' around in Bee County
this afternoon.  Thankfully, I had not gone up there to bird.  Boy! Was it
dead!  Granted, it was in the afternoon, but I still saw nor more than about
30 birds.  that's not 30 species - 30 birds!  More than 20 were Mourning
Doves.  By far the best bird of the day was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo that flew
across in front of me.

The primary reason for posting, however, is to add to the concerns others
have voice about how dry it is.  I saw no water anywhere - not even in the
few concrete stock tanks on a couple of private properties.

--
Jim Sinclair (TX-ESA)
TOS Life Member
Kingsville, TX

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of
thinking we were at when we created them." - Albert Einstein

TEXBIRDS help file and Texas birding links at: 
http://moonmountaingroup.com/texbirds 

Subject: Fort Clark Herons: Tri-colored pics, Black-crowned
From: Bryan <bryancalk AT YAHOO.COM>
Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2011 15:44:17 -0500
 
Hello,

Back in Brackettville for the weekend, and spent the morning birding Red
Bridge Park on Fort Clark with Mrs. Stone and Mrs. Bader. It was a great
morning for birding, and it came with a few surprises!

Three immature black-crowned night herons were spotted across the large pond
before the red bridge, and shortly after, three tri-colored herons flew over
us and also landed on the opposite side of the pond.

What timing for a visit home?!

Tri-colored:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bryan_calk/6015730096/sizes/l/in/photostream/

Red Bridge Park, Kinney Co.
Aug 6, 2011
48 species (+3 other taxa)

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  50
duck sp.  1
Wild Turkey  12
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  1
Tricolored Heron  3
Green Heron  2
Black-crowned Night-Heron  3
Black Vulture  8
Turkey Vulture  2
Shore-bird sp.  20 (Multiple species at Water-treatment Tanks. too far to id
for me. I'll try again later.)
Accipiter sp.  1
White-winged Dove  20
Mourning Dove  3
Inca Dove  2
Common Ground-Dove  15
Chimney Swift  1
Black-chinned Hummingbird  20
Green Kingfisher  2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  5
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Black Phoebe  1
Vermilion Flycatcher  17
Great Kiskadee  1
Couch's Kingbird  2
Western Kingbird  2
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher  1
White-eyed Vireo  10
Bell's Vireo  20
Yellow-throated Vireo  3
Green Jay  3
Barn Swallow  2
Cave Swallow  2
Black-crested Titmouse  7
Carolina Wren  12
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  8
Northern Mockingbird  2
Long-billed Thrasher  2
Black-and-white Warbler  2
Yellow-breasted Chat  20
Olive Sparrow  5
Chipping Sparrow  10
Summer Tanager  20
Northern Cardinal  20
Indigo Bunting  1
Hooded Oriole  2
House Finch  20
Lesser Goldfinch  30

Bryan Calk
Fort Clark Springs/College Station

Subject: OK you wanna play tough?
From: Brush Freeman <brushfreeman AT GMAIL.COM>
Date: Fri, 5 Aug 2011 22:29:59 -0500
 
   Id this bird from these feathers...Yes it occurs in Texas...The last
exercise was revealed a bit prematurely, but your welcome to post this to
any venue you like publicly  What is the bird?....What is the age and
plumage for extra nickels.?

https://picasaweb.google.com/BrushFreeman/20110805#5637578308797645314

--
Brush Freeman
361-655-7641
http://texasnaturenotes.blogspot.com/
Finca de Alacranes, Utley,Texas

TEXBIRDS help file and Texas birding links at: 
http://moonmountaingroup.com/texbirds 

Subject: Black Skimmers at Texas City Dike
From: Greg Lavaty <greglavaty AT YAHOO.COM>
Date: Fri, 5 Aug 2011 20:17:43 -0700
 
Over the past week I have made a couple of visits to the Texas City Dike to 
check out the Black Skimmer colony that now has several recently hatched chicks 
.  If you haven’t been out to see the skimmers I suggest going to see it for 
yourself.  I have posted a bunch of photos of areal interactions, chicks and 
other goings on from the colony here: 

 
www.pbase.com/dadas115/new
 
In particular I wanted to point out some behavior that I found interesting.  
In this photo: 

 
http://www.pbase.com/dadas115/image/137000213
click previous to step through the sequence
 
and the several that follow it an adult skimmer tries to protect its offspring 
from another skimmer who was trying to attack the chick.  At the end of the 
series you can see the chick digging in and trying to stay low to avoid being 
hit by the attacking bird’s beak.  On other occasions when an adult bird 
came to feed these chicks with a fish a third bird came in to chase the bird 
with the fish in what appeared to be an attempt to prevent the chicks from 
being fed.  

 
 
 
Another interesting observation was this adult bird that appeared to be playing 
with a piece of wood on the beach.  The bird repeatedly picked up the wood and 
manipulated it in its beak. 

 
http://www.pbase.com/dadas115/image/137000210
 
 
In this series two chicks are fighting or playing.  My guess is that it is 
playing since neither chick seemed very excited when an adult bird flew in with 
a fish and tried to feed them.  On several occasions I observed adult birds 
flying in to their chicks with fish only to have the chicks lay on the sand and 
seemingly ignore the meal.  After coaxing the adult did always get the 
chick(s) to stand up and take the fish.  My guess is that the young are still 
small enough where they are getting food more than frequently enough to keep up 
with their apatite.  

 
http://www.pbase.com/dadas115/image/137000238
 
 
 
Greg 
TEXBIRDS help file and Texas birding links at: 
http://moonmountaingroup.com/texbirds 

Lavaty
Sugar Land, TX

 

NEBRASKA BIRDERs
North DAKOTA BIRDERS NOTES
SOUTH DAKOTA BIRDERS SAY

Whooping Crane Total Population
(Figures as of
January 21, 2010)

 
Subject: Aransas whooping crane census - December 9
From: Tom_Stehn AT fws.gov
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2010 08:17:46 -0700


The second aerial census of the 2010-11 whooping crane season was conducted 
December 9, 2010 in a Cessna 210 piloted by Gary Ritchey of Air Transit 
Solutions, Castroville, Texas with USFWS observers Tom Stehn and Brad Strobel. 
Sighted on the flight were 223 adults and 45 juveniles = 268 total whooping 
cranes. 
Adults + Young 

San Jose 
  52 + 11 =  63 

Refuge 
  62 + 10 =  72 

Lamar 
  15 +   4 =  19 

Matagorda 
  68 + 14 =  82 

Welder Flats 
  26 +   6 =  32 

Total 
223 + 45 = 268

This was an increase of 31 cranes since the previous flight conducted December 
1st. Flight conditions and 
visibility were excellent throughout the flight. A low pressure system that had 
brought howling north winds 
on December 8th had moved off the coast, followed by clear skies and moderate 
southeast winds. With nearly 
complete flight coverage of the crane area, the 268 cranes counted represents 
an accurate estimate of 

the number of cranes present. 
 Although there have been no additional recent migration reports, as many as 
15-20 more whooping 
cranes are hoped to still be in migration. Recent reports of whooping cranes at 
Aransas possibly not located 
on today?s flight include a group of 9 seen flying over the refuge?s back gate 
road on December 7, and a single 

that was observed roosting at Heron Flats Marsh on December 1 and 6 and 
followed sandhills to forage on 
pasture land and/or farm fields north of the refuge. 

To date, 45 of the 46 juveniles found in mid-August on the nesting grounds have 
made it safely to Aransas. The 45 chicks at Aransas include five sets of ?twin? 
chicks, (adult pairs that have brought two chicks each). Five pairs with two 
chicks each had been sighted in Canada in August. This is the second highest 
total of ?twin? families at Aransas, exceeded only by the 7 sets of ?twins? 
present at Aransas in the 2006 winter. The two new twin families found on 
today?s flight were located on Matagorda Island and Welder Flats. 

Crane habitat use observed on the census flight: 
        209 of the 268 cranes observed were in salt marsh habitat. 
          10 were in shallow open bay habitat. 
 8 were on uplands in areas rooted up by feral hogs on Matagorda Island. 

          26 were on uplands with no sign of hog rooting. 
                4 were at a game feeder at Welder Flats. 
          11 were at fresh water sources. 
Habitat use by the whooping cranes has changed some over the past week. A total 
of 78.0% of the cranes were in salt marsh, whereas the previous week it had 
been 89.0%. Upland use observed totaled 34 cranes compared to eight last week, 
and freshwater use is starting to occur (11 cranes compared to zero last week). 
The salinity at a gauge in San Antonio Bay north of Mustang Lake is currently 
14.5 parts per thousand (ppt). Refuge salinities measured on December 6 ranged 
from 17 to 20 ppt, levels where crane use of fresh water sources starts to be 
observed. Blue crabs are still readily available, with 101 crabs counted on a 
1,000 meter transect on December 6. However, the wolfberry crop is nearing an 
end with only 7 berries and no flowers observed on transects run on December 6. 
Tides were also considerably lower this week with exposed mud flats observed on 
San Jose. A string of about 100 commercial blue crab traps were noted in the 
bay edge off of Matagorda Island between Twin lakes and Power Lake. 
 Tom Stehn, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge 
The following report is forwarded with permission from Tom Stehn, USFWS
biologist and US Whooping Crane Coordinator.
The first aerial census of the 2010-11 whooping crane season was conducted

December 1, 2010 in a Cessna 210 piloted by Gary Ritchey of Air Transit

Solutions, Castroville, Texas with USFWS observers Tom Stehn and Brad

Strobel.  Sighted on the flight were 199 adults and 38 juveniles = 237 total

whooping cranes.
December 1 - Recap of whooping cranes (237) found at Aransas:

        Adults + Young

San Jose          51 + 11 =  62

Refuge    62 + 12 =  74

Lamar     10 +   3 =  13

Matagorda         54 +   8 =  62

Welder Flats      22 +   4 =  26

Total   199 + 38 = 237

Flight conditions and visibility were excellent throughout the flight as a

low pressure system that had brought howling north winds on November 30 had

moved off the coast, followed by clear skies and light southeast winds.

With nearly complete coverage of the crane area during the flight, the 237

cranes counted represent an accurate estimate of the number of cranes
present.

To date, 38 of the 46 juveniles found in mid-August on the nesting grounds

have made it safely to Aransas.  The 38 chicks include three sets of "twin"

chicks, (adult pairs that have brought two chicks each).  Five pairs with

two chicks each had been sighted in Canada in August.  The third set of

"twin" chicks to make it to Aransas had spent 21 days (October 29 - November

18) in Brown County, South Dakota observed nearly daily by Jay Peterson,

USFWS District Manager of the Sand Lake Wetland Management District.  Jay
writes:
        "What a treat it was for me to see the birds each time, but it was

more rewarding for me to be associated with the folks I took with or gave

directions to, who did not have whoopers on their life bird list."
The last 3 of the 10 radioed whooping cranes completed the migration on

November 26th, missing their Thanksgiving feast of blue crabs by one day.

All 10 radioed cranes are now at Aransas.  With no recent sightings reported

north of Oklahoma (as of November 29th), it appears the migration is nearing

completion.  I have my fingers crossed that 50 more whooping cranes will

still arrive since I'm hoping for a peak count greater than 285 this winter.

Crane habitat use observed on the census flight:

        211 of the 237 cranes observed were in salt marsh habitat.

        18 were in shallow open bay habitat.

        5 were on uplands in areas rooted up by feral hogs on Matagorda

Island.
        3 were on grazed pasture oak savannah uplands at Welder Flats.
The cranes are feeding heavily on blue crabs and wolfberries this fall with

both of those food items abundant in November.  It is possible that the 18

whooping cranes observed in open bay habitat could also have been foraging

on blue crab.  The largest group size observed during the census was nine

birds seen on refuge salt flats just north of the Pipeline.  No cranes were

observed at freshwater sources since salinities in San Antonio Bay are 14

parts per thousand, low enough for the cranes to drink water directly from

the marsh.  However, salinities have been rising (they were 9 ppt one week

ago) and the area could use rain.  Tides were high on today's flight with

all the tidal flats covered with water on San Jose Island.  No commercial

blue crab traps were found in the crane marshes or within 100 yards of

shore.  Only a few abandoned traps were seen in the crane marshes that will

be targeted for removal during the annual crab trap pickup in February.


The observed proliferation of black mangrove in the crane marshes on

Matagorda Island and at Welder Flats is very disturbing.  The mangrove

completely replaces the former salt marsh vegetation and excludes forage

items used by the whooping cranes including Carolina wolfberry and fiddler

crab populations.  Many acres of marsh have become completely covered with

this native species that is moving north as climate change reduces the

number of hard freezes.  In the past, hard freezes over multiple days

limited the northward spread of mangrove since mangrove can only tolerate

short spells of freezing temperatures.  The last extended extremely hard

freeze at Aransas occurred in 1989.
Tom Stehn   Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Texas Whooping Crane Update

November 11, 2010 - Whooping Crane Update

The whooping crane migration is well underway.
The first two whooping cranes were sighted at Aransas on October 21. Numerous other cranes arrived near the end of October and the first week in November. So far, ground reports from numerous parties have helped me record that 59 white-plumaged and 11 juveniles = 70 whooping cranes are at Aransas. No aerial surveys have been done to date to get a total count.
From the 10 radioed whooping cranes, 6 of those 10 have completed the migration to Aransas. Thus, one can estimated that 60% of the flock has reached Aransas. With 290 whooping cranes expected to reach Aransas, that means an estimated 174 could be here already (60% x 290). The 4 radioed cranes still in migration are located in Saskatchewan, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
The most exciting news it that a pair that winters on Lamar has brought two
chicks with them. A second family group with two chicks is currently in South
Dakota. I'm hoping that this is a sign that the flock will meet my optimistic
hope for a record size that should include 45+ juveniles. The habitat looks
great for the returning cranes with blue crabs abundant, wolfberries available,
and marsh salinities relatively low.
Tom Stehn
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge        
WHOOPING CRANE NEWS

The Aransas-Wood Buffalo population (AWBP) of whooping cranes rebounded from 247 present in the spring of 2009 to 263 in the spring, 2010. With 46 chicks fledging from a record 74 nests in August, 2010 the flock size should reach record levels this fall expected somewhere around 290. Threats to the flock including land and water development in Texas, the spread of black mangrove on the wintering grounds, the long-term decline of blue crab populations in Texas, sea level rise / land subsidence, and wind farm and power line construction in the migration corridor all continued to be important issues.

Two whooping cranes captured at Aransas and nine in Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP) were fitted with GPS transmitters and tracked by satellite. Crews visited migration stopover sites after the birds were present to gather habitat use data. This project is being carried out by The Crane Trust headed up by Dr. Felipe Chavez-Ramirez. It is funded by the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, The Crane Trust, and the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. The tracking is the first done on the AWBP in 25 years and is a top research priority of the Whooping Crane Recovery Team! Since the 1950s, 474 AWBP whooping cranes have died, with 37 carcasses recovered, and cause of death determined in only 17 instances. With the loss of 21.4% of the flock in the 12 months following April 2008, it is imperative that we learn more about whooping crane mortality.

Based on opportunistic sightings, the Cooperative Whooping Crane Tracking Project documented 103 confirmed sightings of whooping cranes in the U.S. Central Flyway during fall, 2009 and 52 sightings in spring, 2010.

A study by Dr. Ken Jones at the University of Georgia genomics lab to better describe the genetic composition of the captive flock got underway in September, 2010. The new genomics technology will derive genetic information from 454 single nucleotide polymorphisms, a substantial increase from the 12 loci used in the past on which most of our genetic decisions involving whooping crane pairings are currently based.

Planning efforts continued for the proposed reintroduction of a nonmigratory flock of whooping cranes at White Lake, Louisiana. White Lake is where the last whooping crane nest in Louisiana had been found in 1939.

Production in the wild from reintroduced flocks in 2010 was somewhat disappointing, though better than last year. In Florida with improved water conditions, 8 of the 9 remaining pairs nested and hatched 4 chicks, but only 1 chick survived to fledge. In Wisconsin, 12 pairs nested, with 3 first nests and 3 re-nests incubated full term and hatching 7 chicks. Two chicks fledged. Nest abandonment consistent with the presence of black flies continued to be a major hurdle for the reintroduction at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).

The captive flocks had a very good production season in 2010. Twenty-four chicks entered the migratory reintroduction program in Wisconsin, and 11 chicks are being formed into a cohort for a possible nonmigratory release in Louisiana in February, 2011. Three chicks of high genetic value were held back for the captive flocks.

Flock sizes are estimated at 263 for the AWBP, 119 for the WI to FL flock, and 25 nonmigratory birds in Florida. With 167 cranes in captivity, the world total (all located in North America) of whooping cranes is 574, up 38 from one year ago.

Wild Populations Adult
Young  Total Adult
Pairs
Western Flock
Aransas/Wood Buffalo self-sustaining migratory flock

244

19*

263**

72

Eastern Flock
Wisconsin/Florida reintroduced migratory flock

76

29

105*

10

Florida nonmigratory

28

1

29***

 8

Rocky Mountains

0

0

0

0

Subtotal in the Wild:

 352

 30

382

91 

Captive Populations

Adults

Young**

Total

Breeding Pairs

About Captive Breeding
Patuxent WRC, MD

64

4

68

15

International Crane Foundation, WI

31

0

31

11

Devonian Wildlife Conservation Center, Calgary, AB, Canada

23

0

23

6

Calgary Zoo, AB, Canada

2

0

2

0

San Antonio Zoo, TX

7

0

7

1

Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa, FL

2

0

2

0

Audubon Zoo, New Orleans, LA

2

0

2

0

Species Survival Center, Louisiana

11

0

11

1

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, FL

2

0

2

0

Jacksonville Zoo, FL

2

0

2

0

Milwaukee County Zoo, WI

2

0

2

0

Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park, NC

0

1

1

0

Subtotal in Captivity:

148

5

153

34

Grand Totals
Wild + Captive

382
Adults

152
Young

534
Total

 

*Until the next updating of Total Populations on this page, every known death in the Eastern migratory flock is reported here.

* Fifty-two chicks hatched in Canada in 2009 but only 22 fledged. Twenty completed the migration, and one died at Aransas in January, 2010.

**The Aransas-Wood Buffalo population is currently estimated at 263 birds after one chick died during the winter.

*** Florida is currently monitoring 26 birds. The other 3 are missing but could show up.

**The captive numbers do not reflect the 29 chicks in 2009 that entered the wild population through reintroduction programs (ultralight-led Direct Autumn Release) in Wisconsin.
Data courtesy of Tom Stehn, Leader of Whooping Crane Recovery Team
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

Whooping Crane News
Basically, the Grand Island Field Office has received NO confirmed reports of 
whooping cranes in the U.S.central flyway as of today. Lea Craig-Moore with 
Environment Canada reported 23 whooping cranes are in Saskatchewan, apparently 
18 of those are at Muskiki Lake. This report was sent to our office on 
September 13th. Lea also reported that the breeding season went well with a 
record number of nests (74) which produced 46 birds including 5 sets of twins. 
The second highest fledged chick production on record. 

We did receive one report of two whooping cranes flying over Northfield, 
Minnesota heading in a SW direction. I have not been able to verify if these 
birds are part of the WCEP efforts. 
Jeanine Lackey
Fish and Wildlife Biologist
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
203 West Second Street
Grand Island, Nebraska 68801
jeanine_lackey AT fws.gov
 

Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

The sixth aerial census of the 2009-10 whooping crane season was conducted
February 16, 2010 in a Cessna 210 piloted by Gary Ritchey of Air Transit
Solutions of Castroville, Texas with USFWS observer Tom Stehn.  Sighted on
the flight were 237 adults and 19 juveniles = 256 total whooping cranes.  No
evidence of mortality was noted on the flight other than the one juvenile
that had died earlier in the winter.  The radioed family on Lamar Peninsula
was overlooked on the flight, but GPS data indicates it was on Lamar before
and after the census flight.  Since it has not been documented leaving Lamar
since being tagged in December, it is considered very unlikely that they had
moved over to San Jose to account for the extra family found there during
the census.  The flight provided a firm tally of the 20 family groups
currently at Aransas.  With one juvenile last seen in Oklahoma December 25th
that apparently separated from its parents during migration and is
presumably okay and wintering in an unknown location, and the S. Sundown
Island chick that has died at Aransas, this accounts for 22 of the 22
juveniles found in Canada during the mid-August fledging surveys.  This is
one more juvenile accounted for than on previous survey flights this winter.
With the one documented mortality this winter, the current flock size is
estimated at 242 + 21=263.

February 16th - Recap of whooping cranes (256) found at Aransas:

        Adults + Young
San Jose          55 + 5 =   60
Refuge    47 + 5 =   52
Lamar     16 + 0 =   16*
Matagorda         93 + 7 = 100**
Welder Flats      24 + 2 =   26
Hynes Bay           2 + 0 =     2
Total   237 + 19 = 256*

*    One family group was overlooked.
**  Ties record high for Matagorda Island set during the 2008-09 winter.

The territories of adult cranes remain difficult to figure out as many of
the crane pairs have left their marsh and are searching for food on the
uplands.  Upland areas on the barrier islands are flooded, with numerous wet
swales on the uplands up to the beach dunes.  Three cranes on Matagorda
Island were in one of these flooded swales next to the dunes.  Overall
habitat use documented included an unusually high 67 cranes (26%) on
unburned uplands, 16 in open bays, two at a game feeder south of the Big
Tree on Lamar, 0 on prescribed burns, and 171 (67%) in salt marsh.  Blue
crabs are at low levels and the cranes are having to look for other sources
of food, although some cranes continue to catch a few crabs.  This is a
stressful time of winter for the whooping cranes as evidenced by all the
cranes on uplands.

No whooping cranes have been reported up the coast at Smith Marsh in
Matagorda County located west of the Nature Conservancy's Mad Island Marsh
Preserve since 1/17/10.  Two whooping cranes are continuing to winter
northwest of Austwell on the Guadalupe Delta Wildlife Management Area
managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
I noted one thing on the flight that I had never observed previously.
Twenty sandhill cranes on the southern end of the crane range on San Jose
Island flushed from the census aircraft and flew a very short distance to
stand in open bay habitat.  I had never seen sandhill cranes before in open
bay habitat.
Flight Conditions:  Visibility was excellent throughout the flight, though
the sun angle on late afternoon transects made for difficult viewing
conditions when heading into the sun at Welder Flats.  Winds were light and
flight conditions were smooth until mid-afternoon, enabling us to travel at
approximately 130 knots for most of the flight.  Due to reported crane
movements, the search area was expanded further out into upland areas.  This
paid off, as cranes were found near the beach dunes on Matagorda Island,
inland in a pasture at Welder Flats and on Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
uplands.  The largest group size observed was 9 birds seen on the uplands on
San Jose and in the marsh on Matagorda Island.

Post-Flight Update
Food availability improved for the cranes during the last week in February
with more cranes observed feeding on 2-3-inch blue crabs.  Upland swales
remain very wet and bay salinities remain moderate < 10 ppt.

Spring Migration, 2010
A single white-plumaged whooping crane was confirmed present at Salt Plains
NWR in northern Oklahoma on February 24th and 26th. Since we did not know of
any other white-plumaged whooping cranes in the Flyway this winter, this
must be a case of a whooper on the Texas coast getting influenced by
sandhill cranes and starting the journey ahead of the normal time for
whooping cranes.  Except for birds that had a history of separating from
their parents as juveniles, I think it would be the earliest migration start
on record.
- Tom Stehn, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Tom Stehn's Whooping Crane Report - February 1, 2010

The fifth aerial census of the 2009-10 whooping crane season was conducted January 21, 2010 in a Cessna 210 piloted by Gary Ritchey of Air Transit Solutions of Castroville, Texas with USFWS observer Tom Stehn.  Sighted on the flight were 235 adults and 18 juveniles = 253 total whooping cranes.  This was 10 birds less than the last flight conducted 1-05-10.  However, flight time was limited by fog that did not burn off until 10:30 AM, so some cranes were presumably overlooked, as search time had to be condensed.   More telling than the total number of cranes tallied was the distribution observed that seemed to confirm the estimated flock size.  However, it definitely appears that one juvenile has died since arriving at Aransas.  This juvenile had been found in the refuge’s South Sundown Island territory.  On today’s flight, a pair believed to be the S. Sundown Island pair was seen very close to their territorial neighbors to the south.  It seemed clear that I was looking at adjacent territorial pairs, and that the S. Sundown Island pair was missing its chick.  It is also possible that the Dewberry Island pair at Welder’s Flats has lost their chick, but it is also possible they had moved over to the refuge’s Power Lake on Matagorda Island where there was an unexpected family. 

The territories of adult cranes remain difficult to figure out as many of the crane pairs have left their marsh and are searching for food on the uplands.  On today’s flight, an unusually high 52 cranes were on unburned uplands, 4 were on the C14 refuge burn, 13 were in open bays, two were at a game feeder south of the Big Tree on Lamar, and 182 (72%) were in salt marsh.  Blue crabs are at extremely low levels and the cranes are having to look for other sources of food.  This is a very stressful time of winter for the whooping cranes.  One additional juvenile that apparently separated from its parents during migration was sighted near Medford, Oklahoma December 14-25 has not been re-sighted but is presumably doing okay in an unknown location.

The flock size is currently estimated at 244 adults + 19 juveniles = 263.

January 21st - Recap of whooping cranes (253) found at Aransas:

 

Adults + Young

SanJose

  58+4=62

Refuge

53+5=58

Lamar

  16 + 1 = 17

Matagorda

  84 + 6 = 90

Welder Flats

  22 + 2 = 24

Hynes Bay

    2 + 0  =  2

Total

235+18=253*

 *    The presence of one chick last seen in Oklahoma makes the current estimated flock size 263, including 19 chicks.  One chick has died since arriving at Aransas.  

One whooping crane was sighted on 1/17/10 by a TPWD biologist on the Smith Marsh in Matagorda County. The Smith Marsh is private property just to the west of the Nature Conservancy's Mad Island Marsh Preserve a considerable ways up the coast from Aransas.

Flight Conditions:  Visibility was excellent throughout the flight, though the sun angle on late afternoon transects made for difficult viewing conditions when heading into the sun.  Winds were light and flight conditions were smooth, enabling us to travel at approximately 130 knots for most of the flight.  Due to reported crane movements, the search area was expanded much further out into upland areas.  However, only three additional cranes were found in the uplands at Welder Flats, whereas 12 had been located there the previous week.  This difference seemed to account for the 10 fewer cranes found on today’s flight compared to the previous flight.  In addition, no cranes were found at the refuge’s Burgentine Lake, whereas seven had been present on the previous flight.  The largest group size observed was seven birds seen on the uplands on San Jose and in the marsh on Matagorda Island. 

      Tom Stehn                                     

Dr. Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Aransas NWR
P.O. Box 100   Austwell, TX 77950
(361) 286-3559 Ext. 221   fax (361) 286-3722  E-mail:  tom_stehn@fws.gov

Whooping crane statistics:Height: five feet, the tallest bird in North America   Wingspan: seven feet
Weight: Males 16 pounds; females 14 pounds.

Call: A trumpeting kerloo ker-lee-oo.    Flight speed: 30-45 mph

All time population low for North America: 21 birds in 1941

All time low at Aransas: 15 birds in 1941

Current size of the Aransas/Wood Buffalo flock:  247

Reproduction:   Whooping cranes mate for life, but will find a new mate if one dies.  

Courtship: Dances appear to keep the pair's bond strong. 

Nesting:   Cranes normally lay 2 eggs, but usually only one chick survives.

Wild Populations

 

Adult

Young

Total

Adult Pairs

Aransas/Wood Buffalo

 247

 0B

247A

      72

Rocky Mountains

 0

0

0

0

Florida non-migratory

 28

1

 29

        8

Wisconsin/Florida migratory

77

30

 107

      11

             Subtotal in the Wild

352

31

383

      91

A  The peak population for the Aransas-Wood Buffalo flock in the 2008-09 winter was     270.  However, 23 birds died during the winter, leaving 247.

B   Fifty-two chicks hatched in Canada in 2009 but only 22 fledged.  They will not be     added to the table until they arrive at Aransas in the fall.

News from Dr Tom Stehn Whooper Leg Bands

The band is engraved with a multi-digit number. If the bird is captured or found dead and the band is recovered, data kept at the USFWS National Bird Band Lab at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center would identify the bird by its band number. It would also tell when and where the bird was banded. Every bander is required to turn in reports of what they banded to the Bird Banding Lab.

Bands with radio transmitters were never used for tracking birds of the world's only naturally occurring population of Whooping cranes, but they are always used for the birds in the reintroduced Eastern flock. In fact, no birds of the Aransas/Wood Buffalo flock have been banded since 1988. (You can read more about what we learned from banding the wild birds and give a try at using the raw banding data with the help of another long-time USFWS scientist named Wally Jobman at this link.) As recently as 2007 we continued to learn about the life of a bird still wearing bands. And who knows what we may learn this spring if a banded bird is making yet another migration to the nesting grounds in Canada's far north? After the bad conditions at their wintering grounds here in Texas, some of the birds may be weak and malnourished despite the 13 feeders set on the refuge. They will soon begin the 2,500-mile migration, and I hope they are ready for the hard journey north.
Tom Stehn
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Austwell, Texas

Thanks to Wally Jobman (retired, USFWS in Nebraska), you CAN "meet" a migrating whooper! Wally sent us all the sighting records for one of his favorite banded cranes. Scientists use this kind of raw data — carefully collected observations and records — to piece together the stories of cranes' lives. It takes a bit of detective work and a lot of curiosity to figure it out. It often results in more questions than answers. But that's what science is all about! We're eager to give you the same challenge and adventure in making sense of raw data. What kind of story will you piece together from Crane RwR-B's sighting data? Before you rush to read the banding data, here's more about the banding program and RwR-B:

Wally explains, "The whooping crane color-banding program was conducted between 1977 and 1988. No birds have been banded since 1988. Therefore, most of the banded birds have bands that are difficult to identify because they're faded, broken, or missing. A lot of valuable information has been collected from banded birds, such as whether the birds use the same sites each migration, the stability of the pair bonds, and the establishment of territories on the nesting and wintering areas.

The bird whose sighting records you will study has been observed more often than the other color-banded birds. It has been a very productive bird. It was banded as a chick at Wood Buffalo National Park prior to fledging. All bands were made of plastic and placed above the bird's knee (tibio-tarsus joint). RwR means red-white-red: the bird has a 3-inch wide red band with white horizontal stripe in the middle on its left leg. The letter B means the bird has a 3-inch wide blue band on its right leg. At the time of this writing, the only band remaining on this bird is a silver USFWS band on the right ankle.

Questions to Consider As You Read the Data:

  • How old is RwR-B?
  • How many times was RwR-B seen?
  • With how many different individuals was RwR-B seen? How many were chicks?
  • During what summer (year) did RwR-B produce its first chick?
  • When was RwR-B's nest first observed? Do you think it was RwR-B's first nest?
  • How many young have been produced?
  • For how many seasons does RwR-B seem to stay with a chick?
  • How long was RwR-B seen staying with chick G-Y? With YbY-Y?
  • Which period of time shows no record of chicks produced?
  • "Most chicks make the spring migration all the way back to Canada's Wood Buffalo National Park with the parents. But once in a while, the parents and chick will separate during migration or even on the wintering ground." Which sighting is an example of this?
  • What questions do you think the scientists still have, even after collecting all of these years of data? What questions do you have?
    Band Data from Whooping Crane RwR-B
     
     
   
   
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