Monday, April 30, 2007
By Edie Grossfield
This whooping crane was photographed April 21 at the Silver Creek Reservoir in Haverhill Township. photo by Robert Ekblad
A recent sighting of a whooping crane in northeast rural Rochester has given hope to people rooting for the rare bird's survival.
Avid bird watcher Chuck Krulas of Rochester spotted the whooping crane on April 21 at Silver Creek Reservoir. He said he immediately got on his cell phone and called all the "heavy- duty birders" in town. Eight people showed up to see the giant white bird before it took off, Krulas said.
The consensus is that the crane, fitted with identification bands and a radio collar, is a yearling released last fall from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin, near Tomah.
That yearling, upon its release, migrated to Florida for the winter and returned earlier this month. Researchers already knew it was in the Rochester area.
The whooping crane is now back at the Necedah refuge, said Krulas, who has been in contact with researchers there.
"It's always wonderful to see a bird that you don't see very often," he said. "And, it's kind of nice to see something that's making ground; other (animals) are losing it right and left because of habitat loss."
Whooping cranes are some of the world's largest birds, and the tallest in North America. They typically reach a height of 5 feet, with a wingspan of between 7 and 8 feet, and they weigh up to 17 pounds. They live about 24 years in the wild.
With only about 450 whooping cranes left in the world, the bird is on the federal endangered species list. Of those surviving, about half are in captive breeding programs.
There used to be more than 10,000 whooping cranes in North America before habitat loss, hunting and egg poaching almost wiped them out. By the 1940s, there were only 15 to 20 birds left.
Canadian and U.S. government agencies, along with other organizations, have been working to bring the cranes back. They've had some success.
But there's still a ways to go, said Greg Munson, director of Quarry Hill Nature Center, who was thrilled to hear of the recent sighting.
"When you've only got 450 birds left, you are down to a critical mass," he said.
When Krulas and Robert Ekblad, a Rochester man who photographed the whooper, spotted it at Silver Creek Reservoir, they thought it might be one of 18 birds that were guided by ultralight aircraft on a 1,230-mile trip last fall from Wisconsin to Florida.
Unfortunately, all but one of those wintering yearlings died in severe February storms.
For more information on whooping cranes and other types of cranes, visit www.postbulletin.com/weblinks.
I went for a walk yesterday afternoon. The birds were quiet but the spring flowers were out.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Here are my life bird numbers for the following locations after seeing this bird.
Olmsted County #266
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
With 50° predicted for tomorrow it should disappear fast.
from the Post Bulletin 4/12/2007:
Wednesday's snow might not have looked like much when it landed on city sidewalks, but it was the sixth largest April snowstorm on record with 7.4 inches falling late Tuesday and Wednesday.
Snowfall of 5.7 inches on Wednesday easily was a record for April, said Todd Shea, meteorologist for the National Weather Service said.