MIGRATION DAY 82 – DOWN DAY 2

South and west-southwest winds on the surface and aloft respectively along with imminent rain will keep the cranes and planes on the ground for another day at the new ‘short-stop’ in Franklin County.

EASTERN MIGRATORY POPULATION UPDATE
Here is a summary of the most recent data received from the WCEP Tracking team.

As of January 16th, the maximum size of the Eastern Migratory Population was 103 Whooping cranes; 53 males, 50 females. The estimated distribution of the population at the end of the report period or last record is:

 

39 Indiana
2 Illinois
5 Georgia
7 Alabama
2 S. Carolina
 2 N. Carolina
6 Tennessee
1 Missouri
13 Florida
18 Unknown
6 Long-term missing

 

On reviewing this report it struck me as unusual that as of mid January only 13 Whooping cranes had reached Florida. Curiosity getting the better of me, I asked Caleb to do some research. He checked back through the years of our Field Journal entries to find the tracking reports of previous years that were closest to the mid January date so we could compare. Below is the result.

 

Year/Date IN IL KY TN NC SC AL MO GA FL LA Unknown Missing
2011 – 16-Jan 39 2 0 6 2 2 7 1 5 13 18 6
2010 – 12-Jan 10 0 0 20 0 4 8 0 3 23 0 10 7
2009 – 27-Jan 2 0 0 15 0 4 7 0 4 31 0 6 2
2008 – 2-Feb 2 0 0 18 0 4 2 0 2 23 0 3 5
2007 – 23-Jan 4 0 0 4 0 3 2 0 0 46 1 3 0
2006 – 15-Jan 0 0 0 7 0 1 0 0 0 34 0 2 0
2005 – 12-Jan 0 1 2 1 3 4 0 0 0 23 0 1 0

As you can see, never has there been so many birds still so far north at this time of year, leading of course to there never being so few in Florida by this time. 39 Whoopers still in Indiana? …and we thought our progress was slow!

Later migration departures? Ample fresh water/food sources? Warmer winter? Evolving to more northerly wintering habitats with climate changes? Can a definitive answer even be extrapolated?

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