The Aransas Wood Buffalo (AWBP) and Eastern Migratory (EMP) Populations of whooping cranes (Grus americana) utilize very different landscapes in the non-breeding season. By knowing what the distinct behavioral and habitat use differences are between the two migratory populations, managers can make better informed decisions. To gather this information, we are analyzing 20-minute videos of groups of whooping cranes wintering in and around Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, and locations in the eastern flyway including Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, Indiana and Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama, collected by International Crane Foundation staff and many volunteers from 2018-2021. We are preparing time budgets for each population to determine differences in behaviors and habitat use. Summarized behaviors from six categories (foraging, locomotion, alert, comfort, social, or resting) indicate there are differences between wintering locations, social groups, and habitats. This information will aid whooping crane recovery by restructuring previously held assumptions regarding winter habitat use. Results will help refine management decisions, such as where habitat acquisition should be focused on the Texas coast and outreach efforts in the EMP.
Funding and Partners
- International Crane Foundation
- Texas Master Naturalist Program
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources