Last Thursday the Whooping Crane Conservation Association received a Whooping Crane sighting report from birder and photographer  Geryl Mortensen. Geryl photographed two whooping cranes at Lake Ray Hubbard near Dallas, TX on May 2nd.

To confirm the sighting, Geryl was able to photograph them from 2,000 feet away. Lee Ann Linam from Texas Parks and Wildlife confirmed the sighting and added “They are two banded birds from the reintroduced (non-migratory) population in Louisiana. Texas Whooper Watch is recruiting volunteers to help supplement the data that their radio-transmitters provide. Anyone with subsequent sightings can report through our website:

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Judging by the brown remaining in the wings, it appears these are two 2012 cranes, which have wandered. Photo credit:

Judging by the brown remaining in the wings, it appears these are two 2012 cranes, which have wandered. Photo credit:


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  1. John S. Perilloux May 11, 2013 9:48 am

    Claire, biologists and others who have worked with whooping cranes for many years tell us that migration is a learned trait. That’s why so much money, time and work are being put into Operation Migration.

    There was a non-migrating flock in Louisiana until the late 1940s, but hurricanes, gumbo pots and sheer ignorance wiped out the flock. Those birds remained in the coastal area of Louisiana year-round, and it’s this area in which the reintroduction program is now being attempted.

  2. CGJ May 7, 2013 1:08 pm


    I think they have valid reasons… It sounds like historically there was a non-migratory population of the cranes in Louisiana at one time. Population redundancy seems to be a factor too. See this document:

  3. Mary W-D May 7, 2013 12:18 pm

    What kind of study is being done of the LA non-migratory flock? Lots of questions like Claire Timm’s: will migratory behavior emerge on its own from them? Reproductive success? Predation rates? Other benefits/hazards?

  4. Lori (loriearn) May 6, 2013 7:15 pm

    Do they know who they are by their banding?

    • Heather Ray May 7, 2013 5:26 am

      The pair at Lake Ray Hubbard, officially known as L3-12 (male) and L5-12 (female) are juveniles from the 2012 cohort

  5. Dave Sapko May 6, 2013 11:17 am

    Teenage runaways. Fewer gators in Lake Hubbard.

  6. Pat Michaelson May 6, 2013 11:13 am

    Credit also goes to Chris Runk, who first spotted the birds. The news quickly made its way onto the Dallas Audubon site, and many Dallas area birders have delighted in seeing the pair. Happily, they have been spending their time on the far shore: they are easily seen, but viewers keep their distance.

  7. Claire Timm May 6, 2013 8:57 am

    I am no scientist BUT even I can see that these 2 cranes are doing what is bred into their genetic code….MIGRATE!!! Unless the LA cranes are contained in a top closed pen of some kind aren’t they going to want to fly….somewhere….when the urge to migrate kicks in? I do not understand the reasoning or the Science behind trying to make a migratory bird part of any non-migratory flock!!! But then again, I am not a Scientist, just a 3rd grade teacher….but whose children understand the flaws of this idea!!!