Western flock (the Aransas Wood Buffalo Population) is the main flock of
the world's endangered Whooping Cranes.
The Western flock is the only remaining wild, self-sustaining migratory population of Whooping cranes. These birds breed and migrate naturally. Wild parents teach the wild-born babies the migration route.
Size: This flock was down to only 15 survivors in the 1940s. Every whooping crane alive today descended from the 15 surviving whoopers of the Western migratory flock, also called the Wood Buffalo/Aransas flock. March 2011 was the last exact count before biologists began using a technique called distance sampling to estimate the size of the flock instead of counting individual birds. The technique was revised again in the following years.
Grounds: Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan
Migration: The birds migrate up to 2,600 miles each fall and spring between northern Canada and the mid-coast of Texas. They travel alone, in pairs, or in small groups.
Until reintroduction of a new Eastern flock began in 2001 with ultralight aircraft to lead the young cranes, the Western flock (Aransas Wood Buffalo Population) was the world's entire wild migratory Whooping Crane population.
This highly endangered species has been struggling to build its numbers from the all-time low of 15 in 1941. It was a joy to celebrate when the Western flock passed the 200 mark in 2004.