Whooping crane use of habitat area surpasses previous high

Every spring and fall the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (Program) implements systematic aerial flights and ground searches to document the presence of whooping cranes within the Associated Habitat Area (AHR) for the Program. This monitoring typically occurs from 6 March – 29 April in the spring and 9 October – 15 November in the fall; however, the monitoring seasons have been initiated early or extended when whooping cranes are known to be within the AHR outside of these ranges of dates.
Between 9 October and 22 November, 2017, a total of 23 whooping cranes were detected by the Program’s monitoring efforts. These birds accumulated a total of 198 whooping crane use days, which surpassed the previous high of 121 that was observed in 2002.

Spring 2018 was a remarkable monitoring season for the Program. Between 6 March and 29 April, 2018, a total of 120 whooping cranes were detected by the Program’s monitoring efforts which surpassed the previous high of 65 observed in 2017. These birds accumulated a total of 489 whooping crane use days which surpassed the previous high of 194 that was observed in 2017.

Whooping crane observation graph

Since Program inception in 2007, the proportion of the whooping crane population observed within the AHR has increased significantly during the spring and has remained fairly steady during the fall.

Map showing whooping crane observation locations

During the fall 2017 and spring 2018 monitoring seasons many of the whooping cranes observed during systematic surveys were located on Program or other conservation organization owned lands.