According to a blog post on Birder’s World, a record number of whooping cranes from a wild flock that winters in Texas and summers in Canada died last year. Twenty-one birds — six adults and fifteen chicks died, most likely as a result of poor habitat in Texas where a drought effected the blue crab stock, the primary food source for America’s tallest bird.
“‘Total winter mortality is estimated at 6 adults and 15 chicks, totaling 21 Whooping Cranes, a loss of 7.8 percent of the flock that was a record 270 birds in the fall,’ said Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. When added to 34 birds that left Texas in spring 2008 and failed to return in fall, Stehn said 20 percent of the flock was lost during the last 12 months. The upshot is that only 249 birds will make the trip north this year. After an encouraging multi-year comeback in which flock numbers have grown each year, this marks the first year bird numbers have declined since 2001.”
Read the complete blog post.