Call Whooper Watch 1-888-3WWATCH (1-888-399-2824) if you have spotted a whooping crane.
It’s time once again to turn our eyes to the skies and enjoy Nebraska’s spring migration season. One of the most exciting things for birdwatcher to find is a whooping crane. (grus americana) That means it’s time to roll out the whooper watch program again this year.
The Whooper Watch program was started years ago to enlist volunteers to help monitor and record information regarding the whereabouts and activities of whooping cranes while they are in the area. The Platte River and rainwater basin area in Nebraska provide a migratory stopover habitat for whooping cranes. Local volunteers are valuable and needed to help scientists gather data.
Why is this important? Whooping crane numbers are small with ~ 263 birds currently known to be in the central flyway region of North America. While birds migrate to and from their wintering grounds at Aransas Wildlife refuge on the gulf coast of Texas to their nesting grounds at Woods Buffalo national park in Saskatchewan Canada. The migration is a perilous time for birds accounting for much of the mortality experienced by whoppers’. Any information gathered about the birds while en route north or south is helpful for many reasons. This is why the program was established.
Whooping cranes migrate through Nebraska in both the spring and fall time frame. Typical spring migration time from is late March through mid-April. In the fall they can be found in the October – November time frame. Weather and other factors play a role in when the birds come through a given area.
If you are interested in volunteering you can contact Dr Karine Gil at the Platte River Whooping Crane Maintenance Trust for training or more information. (1-888-399-2824), or you can contact us at the Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center for more information about the program.
Power point slides below are from a presentation and are courtesy of Dr. Karine Gil.
Click on a photo to enlarge: